By Rick Polo (Editor-in-Chief)
Down time is a strange concept to Katlyn Jackson. At just 18, she runs both a successful photography and custom jewelry business, holds a steady day job and manages to trip out in her own unique artistic vision. And she’s quite the accomplished artist, having gained a good amount of notoriety locally.
“I love everything I do and it’s hard to do all those things with having your daily job to support yourself and hobbies you absolutely love. I plan on my projects throughout the year due to seasons and when I’d have the most free time to work on certain projects,” said Jackson.
Although she doesn’t have the ample abundance of free time to spend on her art that most her age would, it doesn’t stop her from taking advantage of any and every moment to find that spark.
“The hardest part is finding inspiration with having so much to do and only so many hours in a day. I’m always scrolling Instagram, Etsy, Facebook or Pinterest to find my own ideas to put on paper when I have 10-15 minutes. It’s best to make a list and come back to it when you’re ready,” Jackson said.
The Raw Alternative recently spoke with Jackson at length on how she began her artistic journey.
The Raw Alternative: How long have you been at this?
Katlyn Jackson: Honestly, since I can remember. In high school I took it more seriously and put a lot more focused time into my pieces when contests and scholarships were important.
RA: How did you discover your love for art?
KJ: Just growing up I liked to draw similar things in different positions and sceneries. Of course they were kids drawings still, then I learned how to really apply my skills in school.
RA: What does art mean for you?
KJ: Art is very expressive. Looking back at it now, I never played sports and kept to myself mostly in school. I was always spending extra time in the art room. It was my escape, I guess you could say. Something I put effort into and felt proud of.
RA: What inspires you? Do you pull from certain emotions?
KJ: Honestly, being in a positive mindset. I get so many ideas and eventually spin off those ideas from there. Personally, I have a lot of anxiety, so it helps keeps my mind occupied to work on something and when I’m done, feel accomplished.
RA: Are there any other kinds of art/artists specifically that inspire your art? Or perhaps any music? And have any one piece of art directly inspired one of your works?
KJ: I have a couple pieces that are inspired from other works. For example, the really intricate works are recreated in my own form. I love watercolor paintings, city photos, abstract graphics. I’m drawn to many different pieces of art not specifically by any artists but I’m very supportive of all forms of artists out there. My favorite is recreating a piece of art as another art form. For example, taking a photograph and sketching and shading it out or recreating it as a stipple photo.
RA: What are some of your achievements so far? What are YOU most proud of?
KJ: Looking back now, I’m pretty proud of how far my photography has gone. There’s no going backwards so in free time I’ll look for contests, other local photographers to collaborate with and my freelance. Today, all the work I did starting at 14 landed me a studio job for Robert Senn, now at 18, making a decent wage. Sometimes I get blind-sided and forget how hard I worked to get where I am with opportunities still awaiting. It just amazes and also frustrates me all the different directions I’m pulled in with photography and art. There’s just so much I want to do!
RA: You’re also a photographer. How would you say those talents inspire your art? Is there any crossover?
KJ: Most definitely. I started off with photography first and got more interested in trying out new art forms and got hooked on seeing what I could do next. There’s so many different art forms, I wanted to see what I was good at and some things, I learned on my first try. Every piece amazes me, “Wow, I made that?” It’s always a surprise to see your own ending result starting from scratch and what things can turn into. I’m more visual, like a see-it first kind of person and go from there and spiral into something of my own. Soon I’d like to create new art from my own photographs.
RA: Tell us what you’re working on now? What are some of your short-term and possibly long-term goals?
KJ: I have some ideas and photos stored away when I have a fair amount of free time at once from my jobs. Right now I’d like to experiment with modeling with the help of a few close people and take the photos in my own hands. Not exactly a main focus for now but something to have on hand when I decide it’s something I might want to pursue. After that, I plan on picking up the pencil again and work on booking a month long gallery at Branch Street Roasters in Boardman. I’m very excited to work towards that and hopefully something exciting comes from that. I love selling art and having a variety of forms to show.
RA: What advice can you give to aspiring artists like yourself?
KJ: Just. Keep. Trying. Always have fun with what you’re trying to do, otherwise it feels like a chore and it’s not as fun. Don’t forget where you come from and what you really want deep down. I tried putting things I enjoyed aside and always came right back to doing it again. There are always different routes to take and try so never be afraid to experiment and fail because it will happen sometime and you’ll also succeed from those attempts.