Hey Hey Creatives!
In this blog, I want to share the voices and perspectives of other creative minds, not only mine. I am very interested in artists’ and other creators’ stories, their journeys, and what drives them. Recently I’ve made an interview with Kirsten Meinert, an amazing artist that I’ve met through Instagram, and immediately got enchanted by her beautiful works. She has this powerful ability to transform us into her realms. Every time I meet Kirsten’s characters I sense this mysterious and melancholic atmosphere around them as if they were longing for something. Little snippets of poetry complement the story and make us wonder. Kirsten seems to me like the kind of person who just can’t stop creating, even if she’d want to. She lives in the worlds she’s making and care deeply about each character. I can see it in stories she shares on social media. I admire her rich imagination and creativity, it’s just fascinating to observe. Kirsten is an inspiration. Without further ado…
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background. How did you end up in the place you are right now?
I went through a lot of confusion before ending up where I’m now, which still seems to me like just a place in-between places, like I’m still searching. For a time I thought I would become a seamstress, then I thought I might become a costume designer. This is what I studied for and it’s still a craft I cherish a lot.
During my studies though I became restless again and started to look for something that allowed me to built small worlds beyond just designing the clothes, which led to Illustration and Animation. Both art forms that feel near and dear to my heart and which I’m trying to both do justice in my own small way
It’s very interesting. I observe that this happens to many artists, including myself. We are seekers, we keep searching and changing the way we express ourselves. I started as a tattoo artist, studied fine art and now I’m finding myself more in illustration, fantasy realms, and storytelling. Why do you think is that? Why do so many of us can’t settle for one form of expression, perfecting it over time, but keep looking for a change every now and then?
I think the way most artists start out is as children driven by curiosity, to me it makes a lot of sense that artists, in general, have a hard time settling. Later in life, we start making the choice about which mediums we use, thinking about how „marketable“ our skills are and what we have to include in our portfolio. It becomes a job in a lot of ways, confined by certain limitations.
But being drawn to the arts in the first place is about exploration and a sense of freedom and self-expression. For me personally, it also took me a while to even understand the different aspects of art I was drawn to. Still on that road of discovery for sure.
Did you have a moment in childhood when you knew you wanted to be an artist? Were your parents supportive in your artistic endeavors?
I think I knew from early on I wanted to be an artist, but I don’t think I knew what that meant. It felt right though, like the only thing that could possibly fit me. Before I showed any kind of talent in drawing or crafting I wrote a lot of pretty melancholy poetry. I write to flesh out the world of my sketches, nothing spectacular that could ever stand on its own. For me it feels like just a natural thing to have both of these happen at the same time. So the first pieces of art I remember are actually small text snippets I would gift my parents.
My parents didn’t meddle much with my and my brothers’ interests, I’d say they were neither super supportive nor against it. It was just something I could explore on my own, which I am actually quite grateful for. There was never any pressure to become an artist nor was there the desire for me to follow a more traditional career. They just wanted me to be ok.
What is your biggest current struggle regarding your artistic path and how you are attempting to deal with it?
It’s actually kind of hard to identify just one major struggle, maybe that is just the artist’s life but I’d say there are several big ones. One of them is predictably just making a living. But beyond that for me, it’s probably combining and finding the right balance in all the different artistic fields I work in and love so very dearly. I feel stretched thin a lot, with one foot in illustration, another in stop motion animation, and my hands still reaching for other things like writing and poetry.
My professors used to chastise me for this indecision, but I’m trying to accept that all of these are part of my practice. My attempt to deal with this is to see projects more as little worlds to explore through different mediums than being bound to one. So an illustration of mine could become an animation, could be combined with sound or words that resonate with me and the way my brain seems to think of all of these as interlinked is more like a pool of different possibilities even if my own time is too limited to make all of them happen.
This resonates a lot with me, both struggling regarding making a living as an artist and trying to combine different interests of mine. In one of our conversations, you’ve mentioned that you wouldn’t be able to sustain yourself without a day job. I know so many people struggling with that. How do you juggle your time between all the duties and making art?
It’s an ongoing challenge. But part of it is definitely the kind of privileged position I’m in, my day job pays my bills, but it’s a part-time thing and it’s an artsy job, as well. I approached finding a job with the mindset that it had to give me the freedom to explore my own art on the side, which this one does. But I also feel like at least for me being a full-time self-employed artist could become very lonely, I enjoy working with others, so having a day job is a good thing for me in more than one way.
But showing up to my own work is still a struggle, I only have myself to answer to and a lot of times it’s just the ritual, the discipline of sitting down that gets my mind working. I’ve learned over time that I can’t force creativity, but I can nudge my mind in the right direction.
What is your “why” behind everything you create? (imagine that you are going through a big artistic crisis and nothing seems to work. So you ask yourself, why did I go to art in the first place? What drives me? What are your core and motivation)
What an interesting question. For me, it’s mostly coping with a lot of information, both in what I see in the world and in what my mind makes off it. It feels like a process of translation. But I do know moments of intense frustration, especially with my craftsmanship.
What always grounds me is my need and want to tell stories, to give shape and form to things I’m feeling and thinking about, to make something physical and real out of an idea, a thought, a vague and shapeless thing. I can never stay away for long, there is something about storytelling and just pouring emotions into physical representations that fascinates me like nothing else.
You’ve mentioned once in our conversations that you wish you could give up on art. This is intriguing. Could you expand on that?
Sometimes I struggle with being an artist for numerous reasons and I doubt myself a lot. Those are the days where ich deeply wish I could quit art and pursue a more stable profession, one that makes more sense, is less chaotic, and more defined.
To me doing art is a lot about making decisions based on ground rules that I myself have to lay down, It really all comes down to me. There are some guidelines I can follow but the line to what is „good“ and „worthy“ is muddy and uncertain. Even beyond the financial stability aspect of it, there is a lot of uncertainty and self-doubt. But I know in the end I could never really stop, making art is too necessary for me, too precious.
I am fascinated with the characters and worlds you are creating. Are they part of the same Universe or rather come from different realms? Can you tell us a bit about your creations?
Thank you, dear, so kind of you. You hopefully know I admire you and your art a lot! My characters don’t necessarily share the same world, but they could totally exist in the same universe. I think I tend to gravitate to fantasy worlds and characters with a kind of melancholy and wistful tone and atmosphere. I love giving them backstories, struggles, and yearnings. It probably represents how I see the world and people around me through my own weird little lens.
I think there is something powerful in surreal and intuitive world-building and storytelling. Something that (to me at least) makes things feel true even if they don’t always come from a place of hard logic, fact, and reason.
Tell us a bit about your process and the materials you use. Is there one in particular that you enjoy the most? why?
My process is pretty much all over the place to be perfectly honest. I wouldn’t call myself a neat artist at all.
Most important to me probably is conceptualizing, I love thinking of ideas, linking them, and just existing in that space of possibility for a moment. I am an avid sketcher and my sketchbook is traveling with me always, to the point where it’s already falling apart. I fill it with graphite, gouache, cheap markers, and whatever else I can get my fingers on, lots of bad drawings and thoughts in there to pick apart.
When I decide one of these little things is actually worthy of developing I write a lot, trying to find out what this piece (be it a place, an animation, a creature) is actually about. When I feel like I’m grasping what I mean to do with it I search for references, which I’m using tons of. A lot of the time the images I reference aren’t even visible in the finished thing, but they help me to immerse myself, to feel like for a moment I am living in that space, they are often more about atmosphere than anything else.
My favorite mediums in illustration at the moment are graphite, gouache, and ink. Graphite feels like the best baseline, like something artists just gravitate towards. Ink is more about focus and really deciding how the lines are supposed to be. And gouache is my favorite painting medium cause it’s so versatile and it allows for indecision cause I rarely am happy with my first layers, it can be watery and soft as well as opaque and it has a lot of different shades to explore.
If you could immediately absorb the skills of one artist, who he or she would be and why?
As cliche as it is it would probably be Hayao Miyazaki. He is someone I admire since childhood for his wisdom, his storytelling, and the beauty and imagination behind the worlds he builds. He combines a lot of different crafts and links them in a meaningful way. I hope that I have something I am able to learn along the way. The second choice would probably be Shaun Tan for similar reasons, I love how thoughtful, humble and interesting his approach to making art is, he is a wonderful storyteller, someones whose work I don’t need to understand with my mind because my heart already gets it.
Imagine yourself 10 years from now… what would you say to Kirsten from this time you are right now?
This is probably the hardest question for me, really. I rarely imagine myself in the future. I hope in ten years I have found more peace regarding the different things I do and I feel a little less frayed around the edges. I hope future Kirsten says to this one: “You did alright, Kiddo. I know you tried your hardest. I know some things better now, but you did well.“
Thank you so much Kirsten for taking the time and giving such great answers, it was a pleasure. I wish you all the very best on your artistic journey and I will always be a fan of yours!
Thank you so much for having me Marta, sincerely! You are such a badass kindhearted art magician and I really admire you as an artist and as a human being. I’ll always cheer you on and am so happy to see you thrive and grow.