Today's artist interview is with Hollie Chastain - a collage artist from Chattanooga, Tennessee. I do believe she is the first artist I've featured from Tennessee, which is special for me since I was also born and raised there. I love Hollie's way of combining papers, drawing, and vintage collage materials, and I'm sure you will too. Enjoy!
Hollie's blog: drkennedyjones.blogspot.com
Hollie's website: www.holliechastain.com
Hollie's shop: www.etsy.com/shop/drkennedyjones
Why did you decide to become an artist and could you imagine doing anything else? If so, what?
I can't remember a moment where I ever really decided to become an artist. It's always been my favorite thing to do my entire life so seemed like a pretty natural progression even though it took some time to be able to do it full time. There are 100 things I would love to try but I can't imagine feeling fully satisfied at the end of the day if I can't create.
Do you still believe "do what you love and the money will come?"
I do in a way. The statement sounds so carefree but really it's so much work. You have to be prepared to push and move constantly towards your goals but it's the love for what you're doing that makes it worth it and fuels the energy to accomplish those tasks every day even if they aren't the fun creative tasks.
How has blogging and the Internet influenced your work as an artist?
The handmade blogging community is a whole world of support and inspiration and a real feeling of work mates when so many of us are alone in the studio for the majority of work time. It's nice to share and see what fellow artists are up to every day. Even though it's not quite the same as popping over to the next desk to look over someone's shoulder you have the advantage of so many work mates all over the world. Seeing so many viewpoints and opinions and techniques, both in the blogging community and the internet in general, helps keep my mind open and thinking in new ways.
Please name three of your favorite blogs and tell us why these blogs are special.
The Nonist – This one might be a bit of a cheat because it's no longer an active blog (that fact makes my heart weep) but the archives are still accessible. It's a completely fascinating look into so many eye and mind opening subjects and I can't drink it in fast enough.
A Journey Round My Skull – When I don't have time to go out and explore the bookshelves of thrift stores and junk shops then I get my fix here. He always finds the most amazing vintage illustration that makes my heart race.
NotPaper – The very best collection of collage artist information and introduction. It's a source of constant inspiration.
What is your greatest fear and what do you do to overcome it?
Fire! I'm kidding. But I do think about it sometimes as I'm sitting surrounded by dry and dusty paper. I think my biggest fear is losing my own view as an artist. As great as the internet is for inspiration and discovery it's a constant bombardment of a million and two things a day. It's a balancing act to let those ideas and images and feedback inspire and motivate without allowing it to carry me in an unnatural or inorganic direction in my work. I follow design and studio blogs but try to match that exposure with discovery sites; science and “found item” and history blogs.
Who would you like to trade places with for one day? Why?
I've always been completely fascinated with Emma Kunz. Her work is the perfect blend of art and earth science and mystery. I would love to see things the way she did for a day.
What are your secrets for managing your time wisely?
There is a lot of advice out there about how to juggle and organize but I think that everyone's life and circumstances are different and you just figure out as you go. If I try and set a daily schedule then I drive myself crazy trying to stick to it as unexpected things pop up then I end the day a ball of anxiety. I try and keep a loose schedule, more of a to-do list, and complete the task that means the most to me right in that moment. Nothing good comes from forcing a creative task to meet a deadline but if I can knock out the clerical parts of running a business when I find a free minute here or there then it opens up larger blocks of quiet time during the day to work in the studio without feeling scattered mentally.
If you could live anywhere in the world – all expenses paid – for one year, where would that be? Why?
I would love to explore Iceland for a year. Everything about it appeals to me (except the cold but I can deal with that) and it seems to have a very distinct and strong personality. The folklore and music feel so specific to the country as if they couldn't have come from any other place. Also it has some of the most beautiful landscapes I've ever seen and very different from the landscape here at home so I wonder how that might affect my creative process with such different visuals around.
How do you maintain a healthy balance between your professional and private life?
Setting my own studio hours and having a wonderful supportive husband makes this easy most of the time. If I give up weekday studio time to volunteer at the school or if sick little ones stay home I am thrilled to get to drop everything to devote all my attention to that and know that I can make up the studio time if I need to in the evenings or a quiet Saturday morning. It's never a complete balance but we have a pretty great routine worked out that works for us.
What are your top five goals that you’d like to accomplish within the next five years?
Being slightly obsessed with early stop-motion animation I am dying to give it a try with some paper dolls I am currently working on. Next year an attempt at an animated short will be made and we'll see how it goes. I would like to continue adding retail locations where my work is available and get together a solo show every year. Putting out a small self-published book of found book pages and photographs and artwork is quickly moving towards the top of the general long-term To-Do list. First and foremost I am moving into a bigger work area the beginning of 2011 and that will make all other goals that much easier to accomplish!
What is your advice for someone who would like to turn his or her creative dreams into reality?
Don't compare yourself to others, don't get discouraged, take the product seriously without taking yourself too seriously and work work work!
Thank you Hollie for your words of inspiration and for sharing your beautiful artwork!