Natalie Krystine is an artist; here is a link to her website:
Q: When did you know you were an artist?
A: I honestly think that it wasn’t until about two years ago that I started thinking of myself as an artist.
But I’ve probably always been an artist. When I look back, art has always been a constant in my life. My mom used to do finger painting projects with me when I was a baby. And I began wanting to do my own artwork at about two years old. I wasn’t a child prodigy, so none of it was any good. My dad is actually really talented at drawing and would give me short art lessons as a child. My mom was more into crafts. She was always crafting or making something. Their interests in arts and crafts, paired with their constant encouragement, really helped me to pursue many different artistic endeavors over the years. I appreciate so many things because of them, and want to try so many different avenues of art. This is probably why it’s taken so long for me to adopt the label of “artist”.
Q: Who are some of your artistic influences?
A: I would have to say that I’ve been inspired by Diane Arbus, Frida Kahlo, Wayne Thiebaud, Ray Johnson, and David Hockney. I also really love Marcel Duchamp because he put a urinal in a museum. In general, I’m really inspired by artists that don’t sell out and just do the art they want to do. I think that there is a lot of bravery in expressing a part of you that may come off as weird to someone looking in.
Q: What do you hope to communicate through your art work?
A: If I’m doing commissioned artwork, I just try my best to communicate what I’ve been asked to do.
But when I get to do my own artwork, I find myself trying to express the nostalgia I feel about things, that are honestly, extremely normal and boring. In my general life, I tend to become interested in things that were small footnotes of an experience. The tiny details help me remember a bigger memory or emotion. It’s like a bookmark for me. I also feel color is extremely important to how I express my work. I find myself trying to mix colors until it matches the subject matter on an emotional and visually appealing level. I hope that other people enjoy my work and are able to project their own life experiences onto my pieces.
I also really want people to find humor in my projects. Most of my projects start off with me thinking something would be funny or ridiculous to make. If an idea doesn’t make me laugh or smile, I generally don’t pursue it further.
Q: What made you choose acrylics?
A: I’ve only been painting with acrylics for about three years now. I was kind of bored one summer day, and remembered I had a box of acrylics at home. I’ve never taken painting lessons. But I knew acrylic paint is generally pretty easy to work with. I wanted to paint a very large portrait of my dog to the best of my abilities. I thought it would be funny to give it to my parents as a present. A month later, it was finished. My parents loved it. My mom put a gold, ornate frame around it and hung it up in the hallway. Other people saw it and started hiring me to paint their pets. Because of all this, I realized I really liked using acrylics. And I got a lot of practice from the commissions.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it affect your work?
A: I work in an office as an inside salesperson. It’s a really normal Monday through Friday job. It allows me evenings and weekends to work on projects.
Q: What happens at one of your painting parties?
A: I come to your house with painting supplies and a project for all of us to do together. I stand in front of everyone and demonstrate the steps that we need to do in order to complete the project. Everyone gets to wear an apron. I also wear an apron. But mine is green with strawberry pockets, which indicates that I am the instructor. I walk around and help anyone that needs assistance. Sometimes people eat snacks and play music. I’ve mostly been hired to instruct children.
Being an art teacher was one of my first art-related dreams! I’m really happy that I get to experience that dream from time to time.
Q: One of the services you offer is “Bad Portraits,” how do you go about making them intentionally bad?
A: It has to be bad, but not so bad that you can’t recognize the subject of the portrait. I actually pay attention to what the person looks like. But I leave out most of the details. I think what helps this project is that I hate pencils. I only draw with pens.
I do want to add, that in addition to my dad giving me basic drawing lessons while growing up, I actually did take drawing classes in college. But… My drawing abilities have always been really mediocre. The “Bad Portraits” project is my way of poking fun at that and embracing my subpar abilities.
Q: What do you like about the San Francisco art scene?
A: It’s nice that it feels very open and welcoming. I’m actually really shy about sharing my art with other people, especially face-to-face. But any time I’ve done an art event in San Francisco, my nerves have been eased by how nice everyone is!
Q: What about it would you change?
A: I wish I was more involved in it. I’m trying to change that!
Q: If you could do an acrylic painting of a famous person’s soul, who would you pick and what would it look like?
A: When I really think about it, I’m not incredibly creative nor inventive, so I’d probably just paint a portrait of an obscure Bay Area celebrity, like Jan Wahl, or someone from a commercial that I think is funny. I feel like I wouldn’t know much about them either… So I’d just paint the background with a really vibrant color that I like and be done with it.
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects.