Illustrator Kristin Gulledge | Inspire Me Monday

McKenna Woolleyart

I’m so excited to introduce you to our first featured local artist: illustrator, photographer, graphic designer extraordinaire…

Kristin Gulledge

I have had the pleasure of knowing Kristin for over a year now…We live in the same city and yet have only met face-to-face once but I’m pretty much her best friend (or so I dream). Well, in other words I Facebook and blog stalk her and silently admire her and everything she does in the art world.

Her style is somewhat similar to that of the late 19th century and looks to have influences of Gustav Klimt, and touches of Odilon Redon with a modern twist. What I love about her style are the textures she uses with the French ‘art nouveau’-esque use of text interplaying nicely with her stylized figures. She’s definitely found her voice and it makes her work recognizable as hers, something that I aspire to and am inspired by.

It’s facinating to get to know more about her journey as an artist as I interviewed her for this feature. She touches on so much that I strive for and what this blog is all about; the process of self discovery. And without further adieu… Ms. Kristin Gulledge

What is your favorite medium for creating a work of art? (describe what you use and how you use it)

“I primarily experiment with the mixture of charcoal, paint and metal leaf on wood. I use acrylic underpaintings and oil for rendering and finishing touches. I generally make my own boards and cradles; the boards are masonite and the cradles are poplar. I’m not really an art purist; it’s just cheaper that way….

“The reason that I use charcoal stems from my love of figure drawing. I first despised figure drawing because it was, well, hard. But after I kept with it (read: took the advanced class 5 times from three different professors), I got pretty decent at it. I realized that drawing made more sense to my brain than painting did. This isn’t to discount painting at all; I simply resonated with drawing. For the longest time, I thought that drawing was only a means to an end; everything had to end up as a rendered painting. I’ve recently decided this isn’t the case. I love the idea of a drawing as a finished work of art. In my paintings, I try to leave some areas unfinished; I enjoy seeing a piece of art where the viewer can point out where the artist laid down the first stroke and just left it there, and can see layers of paint in other places. I guess that’s the idea of visually explaining the process. I try to play with that finished/unfinished spectrum to varying degrees in my pieces.”

Who inspires you and what is it about them or their work that touches you? 
“I’m inspired by so many artists! When I was getting ready to create my final BFA project before graduating, I realized I didn’t even know what style to incorporate. I realized though, that through my pinterest art board I sort of started to understand what I like. There are too many to list here, but James C. Christensen’s work sort of captures what I realized I like about all the others: his work provides layers of meaning. His art can be taken at every level; children could enjoy how “pretty” the paintings are and adults can understand a general greater meaning. But it’s those who really study an art piece of his who are the ones who find the greatest value in his work. On a practical level, I admire the fact that he can paint both realistically as well as stylized and both read as his
On another note, I remember looking at one of his paintings when I was in grade school and loving it right away. It was a pretty fun discovery years later to realize that I still admire him, so apparently some of my tastes haven’t changed that much.
Brad Kunkle inspired my fascination with metal leaf. The way that his paintings play with light and how they look different under different circumstances is wonderful. I had a chance to meet and chat a bit with Sterling Hundley, and some of his art and especially theories on art-making really resonated with me.  I like the graphic quality of Mucha’s work, and I can never get enough of DaVinci’s sketches
Also, I’m daily in awe of my past professors and fellow artists in the Illustration program. They are continually coming out with phenomenal stuff.” 
“Sleepyhead” is a limited edition print for sale at next week’s show as well as on her online store, here.


What is it about the process of creating artwork that gives you joy? (describe your artistic process)

“Honestly, I think I need to enjoy the actual art-making process more, because I fight perfectionism and art-making can be terrifying. Never knowing if the next mark you make will enhance the piece or ruin it is scary. But that’s part of why it’s so fun: it constantly takes me out of my comfort zone and sometimes I surprise myself (both in bad ways and in good) with what I can do. It can make me feel great, but it can definitely humble me for sure. I guess it keeps me grounded. 
As a bonus, when I make art that really resonates with me, I get really excited and I’ve started to process things better through art, which is kind of a fun self-discovery type thing. 
However, I find the most joy finding out that my art that has impacted others. Some of the most gratifying and humbling experiences have been when people, whether they be friends or strangers, have told me that something in my art has positively impacted them in some way. Sometimes it’s simply that they don’t quite understand my work and actually want to learn more, then take the time to ask questions or explain their thoughts. Other times, something in the art resonated with them and they express that to me, or find meaning in it that I hadn’t intentionally put there. Any type of response that shows that someone cares about what I do and actually appreciates it for one reason or another means the world to me.

How would you define your individual style, how did you find your artistic voice? What makes your style different or recognized as yours? How have you evolved as an artist? Where did you get your beginnings?
“Honestly, at the end of college I realized I wasn’t sure if I even wanted to be an artist. I’d tried my hand at a lot of sub-genres of illustration and hadn’t found my “niche”. I felt like I have skills that I could use to help other people and I didn’t feel like my art was adequate enough for that. I was determined, though, that because I had to make a closing art statement for my college career (meaning my BFA show), I should have something worth saying. I realized that most the things I had worth saying, I had communicated in words rather than art. I’ve been a closet writer for a lot of years and have kept a personal blog since 2008, so I went to my blog and started searching for ideas. Eventually, I realized that I wanted to include the words as well as images to accompany them. Because of my graphic design background, I have a love of typography and decided that I wanted to include the words right onto the paintings. I wasn’t sure if that would work at all, but with my final show just a few months away, I was out of time to deliberate; I needed to just make art! So I stuck with what I knew I was good at–drawing and writing–and used that as a foundation for this body of work. I added a few limitations on myself based off of similarities in art I liked so I’d have some sort of framework from which to build my art: 
1. Everything would be drawing-based.
2. The color palates would be monochromatic or very limited. 
3. Each piece would incorporate texture.
4. Each piece would incorporate metal leafing.
5. The pieces would all include some sort of typography. 
6. These pieces would be diptychs.
Everything in that show was kind of an experiment for me, and that’s honestly how I found my voice. I came to really love that framework as well, and have since used those six points as rough guidelines in the work I’ve generated since. Since my BFA show, I’ve had a few shows in which I’ve branched out into more stylized figures while trying to maintain the “fine art” look. Picasso said it best: “I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
What other things are you passionate about in life that inspire your work?
“I am most passionate about people, in all aspects; I guess that’s why I paint them most. I’ve always taken an interest in both psychology and physiology. The human brain and how we relate to one another is fascinating to me, as well as the physical body and how it functions. I’m also passionate about music. Growing up and especially in high school I was in choirs and loved singing and playing around with the guitar. Music has a magical quality to me that I can’t quite understand, which is why I suppose it’s magical. I’m also passionate about my religion and promoting positive principles in general to help better the lives of people.” 
“Muse of Music” limited edition print for sale at next week’s show as well as on her online store here.

Did you or are you study(ing) art in school? And what made you choose to go into the program that you did?

“I graduated from BYU with my BFA in Illustration with an emphasis in Concept Art (for animation). Honestly, it was just sort of a whim that I applied. Illustrator Guy Francis lives in my home neighborhood and I was his assistant when I was 16 years old. Working for him gave me some good insight in what it takes to be an artist and people always told me I’d be good at it. When I applied for the program at BYU, I probably figured it was more of a temporary commitment until they would surely turn me down but hopefully it’d buy me time to figure out what I “really” wanted to do. I was a little surprised when I got accepted to both the illustration and graphic design tracks and after an aggravating personal debate, decided on illustration. The next year, I got a job as a graphic designer and photographer on campus for the College of Life Sciences. I stayed there for 5 more years, so I’m grateful to have emerged from college with those skills as well. Looking back, I can understand that this is exactly what I needed to be doing.” 

Thank you again Kristin for your words.  Your journey is such a motivation to keep on keeping on! 
Don’t forget to go to her art open house THIS WEEKEND!!!

(*If you’re interested in being featured on Inspire Me Monday feel free to contact me here or at mckennawoolleyart@gmail.com)