Cal Patch Interviews Kayte Terrycomments (6) May 29th, 2009
Since we are signing off this week, here's my interview with the amazing Kayte Terry, so you can find out more of what she's all about!
I've known Kayte for many years, and always admired her great taste and creativity. When I first met her she was a window display designer, and she concocted the most wonderful scenarios. Her blog is always turning me on to something new and cool, and her projects sparkle with a fresh mix of vintage and modern style. Let's find out more about Ms. Terry...
Kayte, you might just be the most crafty AND stylish person I know. So this has been a perfect place for you! Did you ever expect to be doing what you do for a living? And what exactly do you do for a living?
No, I never thought I would be doing this for a living! I guess I never thought there was a living to be made doing crafty things. I was raised crafty and I always made things but it wasn't something I thought I would do for work. I wanted to be an actor/singer/dancer until I went to college, then I got deep into academia and planned to be a professor and write lots of difficult-to-grasp theoretical articles. Obviously, that never happened. One summer, I worked at a store and the merchandiser let me help him do windows. I loved it; merchandising was the perfect blend of art and commerce for me. I started doing merchandising and display full time after college and I found that a lot of my crafty skills really came in handy. I think that's when I knew that craft would always be a huge part of my life and that it could actually be a career.
I do a lot of things! My business card says Writer/Stylist/Crafty Lady for Hire and I think that describes what I do pretty well. I write books and articles, contribute projects (to places like Craft Stylish for instance!), do some prop styling for magazines and sell my own handmade goods. It's hard for me to do just one thing so I like that every day for me is totally different. While I have loved being a freelancer, in July I am off to make a very big change: I'm moving to Philly to go back to Anthropologie full-time. I think I thrive on change so I'm really excited about it!
Wow, a full-time job; that really is a change! But it sounds like such a fun creative opportunity. And a steady paycheck definitely sounds alluring to me! I've known you for years, but I am shocked to hear you once dreamed of being on the stage, and then actually planned to be a professor!
You have amazing taste. What do you do when you need to get inspired or come up with an idea for a job? You seem to have an endless supply of brilliant projects under your wing!
Awww shucks! Well, I guess you could say I am like a sponge for inspiration. I am always on the lookout for something cool, a new artist, a new fashion designer. I read tons of magazines and blogs, I go to museums and galleries a lot and when I travel, I do tons of research on the best shops, restaurants and neighborhoods to visit. This is both a blessing and a curse. One one hand, it's great to be so tuned in to so much inspiration and influence.
On the other hand, it's hard to turn my brain off and just experience things without thinking about whether it would make a good blog post or article! Also, I don't want my work to be too derivative! It's important to try to develop your own style.
As far as coming up with new projects, I always keep a little sketchbook and pen with me because I never know when inspiration will strike. I've learned the hard way that just because it's a great idea doesn't mean I will remember it! Also, I tend to get some of my best ideas on long walks. I never learned how to drive so I walk everywhere and it's when I really get a chance to let my mind wander. I have resisted learning how to drive just because I'm worried that I will never have any more good ideas!
Oh, but you can get good ideas while driving too! Driving can be very zen. But walking is my favorite way to get around too; i like things to move at a slow pace in general.
I'm sure you're right! I think I mostly use that as an excuse.
You have written two books now, right? Tell us about them, and do you hope to do more?
Yes, I have one book, Complete Embellishing, out now and Appliqué Your Way comes out in November. They are both really about the idea that you can take something boring, an old t-shirt or a plain pillowcase, and make them really special with embellishments. I have been re-working and embellishing my own clothes for years and it's so much fun. Sometimes, I embellishing and re-embellish over and over again as trends and tastes change. That's part of the fun.
Appliqué Your Way focuses specifically on appliqué but there are really a lot more things you can do with appliqué than people think. You can do reverse appliqué, you can do traditional quilting appliqué, you can work with sheer fabric, leather, doilies and felt. I'm also excited to have twelve awesome contributors in my book including you!
I have a couple of other book ideas and projects in the works that I can't really talk about yet but things are happening. I really love writing books; I think my most creative side really shines in books because you have much more time to brainstorm and work.
I can't wait to see the new book! I am a huge fan of embellishment and applique myself.
Describe how you would spend a perfect day, anywhere, any way with no restrictions.
Oooh, good question! Despite my Northeast upbringing I am actually happiest in tropical climates. When I lived in Brazil during college, it was like waking up in paradise every day. On the weekends, we would drive out to the beach and it was just worlds away from Connecticut beaches I knew as a kid: there were always bands with crowds of people dancing and we would gorge ourselves on fried whole fish and icy cold beers or caipirinhas. The only thing that was missing was that my loved ones were back home in the States. So my perfect day would be me, my husband, family and a few good friends in an amazing house in some tiny beach town in Brazil just hanging out: good food, cocktails, talking, dancing and laughing into the wee hours of the night. That sounds pretty perfect to me.
It's a tumultuous time in the publishing/craft world; what are your thoughts on the changes that are happening, and what do you predict for the future?
I wish I had a good solution but I don't. I think it's really hard right now in the crafty publishing world because people can get so much for free and they don't want to pay for a magazine or a book. There are so many great websites out there now that supply really good information for crafters. I honestly think that the crafty audience really needs to think about who is giving them this information. When all this information is free, writers, crafters and editors don't have a job anymore.
I don't think a shift to the web is inherently bad, (less paper waste is always a good thing) but I think that it needs to be remembered that this is a business, a way to make a living for many people and many of us just can't do it anymore. Plus, I guess it's really similar to what's going on in the music business: while it's awesome to have access to so much information, the industry needs to figure out a new way to support artists.
What's next on the horizon for you?
Next up for me is my big move to Philly! I am really excited to get to know a new city and move into my giant apartment. As you are well aware, rent in NY is so high and apartments are so small that, when you leave NY, everything looks like a palace!
Besides that, Appliqué Your Way, plus a fun Sewable Stationery Kit also by Chronicle will be out in the fall so I'll be doing a lot of events for that. Also, I'm selling at Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn on June 6th and 7th with Treehouse. Stop by and say hi!