Art That Pops: An Interview with Krista Perry
With illustrations that pop in color and emit playfulness, Krista Perry achieves a range in her style that can vary between zany and spooky. “The more craziness there is to look at, the better,” Krista thinks, and that maximalist concept is certainly clear in her work. Hailing from the small town of Uxbridge, Massachusetts, she is a recent graduate of MassArt.
You may have seen her art on Threadless, where she won a competition in March 2014 for her piece ‘Pass the Catnip,’ which was “…a bunch of really odd cat heads with multiple eyes. It was just really fun. And I remember making the design and it was one of those things where I wasn’t planning the art and I just kind of made it because I wanted to have fun. It was really amazing to be able to get copies of that shirt and hold it in my hands and think, ‘not only did I make that, but now people can wear it.’ Ever since high school, I always wanted my art to be tangible and be on things that people can interact with or wear, or use as a notebook or something.”
On Halloween, she participated in an event called “Trick or Treat Yo Self” at the Firebrand Saints Bar in Cambridge, MA where she drew purposely ugly portraits of bar-goers in their costumes. This was right up her alley in terms of style. Originally, she was asked to show her art at the bar, but that turned into doing live drawings during the night. “A lot of people were dressed up so that really added to the interesting things that I could add to the portraits.”
What draws her to the 1960s American pop culture style that she finds so interesting? “I don’t know,” she admits. “It’s weird, because I used to hate the 60s. The 60s were, like, my least favorite era when I was younger. I thought it was stupid. I mean, I kind of hate that generic hippie thing, where it’s like, if you Google image search ‘hippie,’ it’s all rainbow and weird stuff like that – I kind of hate that. But as I learned more about the culture, I really appreciated it. And not just hippie culture. I’ve always been interested in the lifestyles back then and how everything was simple, but also how everything was so well-designed. People seemed to spend a lot more time with details and things like placemats for tables, or floral patterns for chairs. I love looking at stuff like that because everything is so colorful and well-thought out.” It was definitely a time of experimentation in America. Her interest in this era also grew after studying The Manson Family for her senior thesis project.
Remember when Mad Men started to make the transition into the late 60s, on the verge of the hippie era? The psychedelic ads with the paisley background had caught Krista’s eye. In the series, “a lot of the ads they did show were images that I’ve either seen through research or in some of the books I own. It was really exciting to see the stages of planning that went into the advertisements.
Social media has been a huge tool of exposure for Krista. She is a frequent user of Instagram, where she regularly posts her artwork. “I noticed that a lot of illustrators used Instagram for art promotion, and it was working for them and they were getting a lot of attention. I think as people started liking my art more, I was more willing to showing it off online. There are illustrators from all over the world that I’ve been able to connect with because of the Internet. And even if I don’t meet them, I still know their name and they know my name. It’s interesting to build that network system, even if it’s small. And now that I’m done with college and way more serious about art, I’m starting to connect with illustrators I look up to. They know how the crazy world of illustration works. They’re professionals. Even if it’s just a small interaction of saying hi to each other, it’s still really exciting to me. It’s weird. It’s so weird, because otherwise they wouldn’t know I exist.”
“I make art almost every single day. I’ve made so much art since graduating. It’s the biggest thing that I do, so I spend a lot of my time, money, and effort on that. I really want to make it as an illustrator and I want to be able to devote all of my time and energy to it.”
What’s in the future for Krista? Some of her work will be shown at Giant Robot, an art gallery in Los Angeles, in December as part of the Post-It Note 11 show. She plans to draw floral patterns and expand upon more ugly portraits. Krista has a “super long list floating around somewhere” of projects she’d like to do next. “Sometimes I’ll be in public and I’ll just get a silly idea and jot it down in my phone’s notepad. Right now I have 54 notes in my phone and all of them include a list of crazy ideas I’d like to turn into something.”
Find Krista at: http://www.kristaperryart.com/
Zach Benard is a filmmaker, photographer, and writer. He is the writer/director of Consumer Beware and the author of The Lost Islander. His work can be found on Maudlin House, The Lonely Crowd, and Saturday Night Reader.