As part of a summer long series called Meet the Artist, I am introducing you to all the artists that will be teaching at this years Create Explore Discover Retreat to be held October 12-14 at the Cedar House Sport Hotel. So far we have met, Lisa Congdon and Jen Lee. This week, I am honored to introduce you to a returning instructor and friend, Liz Kalloch. Liz is quite special to me as I believe in life that you can be blessed with kindred spirits, people you were destined to meet or might have had some sort of connection with even though you have not met in person. Liz is one such person. We have known each other for about 2 and 1/2 years and met in person in San Francisco at the Renegade Craft fair where she was helping another friend, Marisa of Creative Thursday whom I have mentioned many times in this space. I felt as though I had known Liz my whole life and feel this way each time we meet in person. Liz is a truly gifted artist and teacher and it is my honor to share her wisdom with you today.
Tell a little about yourself. Where you have lived, what type of creative work you have done and how you came to build Liz Kalloch Designs.
I am a girl who grew up in Europe and South America, speaking French and Spanish, with American roots and a penchant for mark making tools. I am a painter whose favourite medium is colour. I am a writer who has an endless curiosity about the way people think and feel and process and create things. I am a designer who loves paper and books and sending cards by the post. I am a talker, a sharer, a problem solver, and a word lover; and if my grandmother were still around she would share with you a funny story about how I spoke my first full sentence when I was 10 months old.
With the exception of a few temporary office work jobs, and one ill-fated waitressing job, I have earned my living with a wide variety of creative jobs: ceramic painter, net mender, newspaper layout, catalogue designer, faux finish painter, print designer, singer, jewelery designer and painter. Liz Kalloch Designs was born out of all those experiences and encompasses most all of my favourite things: communication, collaboration and colour.
Do you think most people are living their creative dreams? Are you living your creative dreams? How?
Unfortunately, I think the answer is no. I think that there are definitely people who are living their dreams, but their numbers are quite small, and I think that’s because most of us don’t know that it’s even an option. We live in a culture where goals and objectives are runged like a ladder–clearly defined and upward moving–and most creative endeavors just don’t follow that prescription. There is no clear map to follow when one is living their dream, you make it as you go, and the tools for doing this can be hard to find. I also think that there is a fair amount of anxiety for most of us about the bottom line and money, and to live a dream doesn’t always seem feasible in the face of paying rent and managing finances.
Most of the people that I know that are living their dream are doing it because they must. There is an internal imperative that guides them to create, that guides them to the work that they feel they must do, and to do anything else is simply not an option. And I’ll also say that when they try to fit themselves into a more traditional workplace, a more traditional job description, they feel lost and even less sure of where they are going.
I would say for myself that I am living parts of my creative dream and there are other parts that I am working on bringing out into the open, and making real. It’s a never ending process, partially because my interests and goals constantly grow and change, and partially because with each new endeavor there are the butterflies and there is soul searching and there is doubt and there is joy and there is possibility. For anyone who has a dream, but are not sure how to put it into practice I would say don’t wait for approval, don’t wait to be told it’s okay to do what you most want to do, just start, start anywhere and see where it takes you.
How do you conquer fear? How do you encourage others to conquer their fears?
I circle for a bit, and then I put a foot down on the ground and start. Just start somewhere. I think fear is a part of being courageous, and I think fear keeps us honest with ourselves when we are most attuned to our own inner self. When I start a new project, or begin a new series of paintings, or start working on a new creative endeavor I work in fits and starts, kind of like putting my foot into a pool of water, finding it cold, and pulling it out again. At some point, the testing has to stop and I just have to dive in and see where I surface. Am I in the shallows, am I in over my head? Either way what matters most is that I’ve taken the plunge, and I’ll acclimate to the water temperature. And the swimming? It’s always divine.
So to anyone feeling fear, know that it’s part of the process and you don’t need to push it away–it can be one of your greatest guides, and one of your closest allies, so hold its hand and take the plunge together, you’ll be amazed at how far you can swim when you aren’t using up your energies pushing it away or trying to banish it forever.
How does family and life experience play into you achieving your goals? Who around you encourages you?
I grew up in a creative family: musical and artistic endeavors were always encouraged, and I was lucky to have a grandmother who always told me that I could do what ever it was that I most wanted to do, and a mother who proudly supported my creative decisions. My husband is also one of my biggest supporters; he’s a professional musician and our life together is wrapped around creating and living lives that are dedicated to our artistic mediums.
I also have a community of kindreds and soul partners who are artists, and performers and writers and journeyers of all kinds that both support me and my work, and also are a sounding board for the failures and the successes, for the joys and the confusion and for all matter of things in between. I don’t know what life would be like without them, and am grateful that I don’t have to experience any aspect of my life without them. This creative life is a solo journey in part, and it’s also a celebration of the collaborations and creative partners that I am blessed enough to find along my way.
Here’s where you can find more about Liz and her work:
Next week we will meet: Mati McDonough