LA Artist Spotlight: Katlin Evans

Katlin Evans’ work takes shape in the form of drawings of everyday objects. She conveys these random objects, like Christmas lights, boxes, or needles in a way that reads as an unfolding experience to the viewer, where the object is recognizable yet hard to identify.

Evans also relies on the intensity of emotive obsession, one where time is a major player. In some of her recent work, she made a drawing of 1,134 sewing needles. In the process she calculated she could draw 200 sewing needles in seven hours. The result was a swarm-like cloud of overlapping sewing needles on matte finish Dura-lar. The obsessive quality involved in creating this work is simultaneously absurd and meditative. These contradictions represent the conflict related to daily living while also acting as a signifier to the passing of time.

BELLA sat down with this SoCal talent to find out more about her passion for art, life, and beauty….

How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
I would describe myself as being a self-motivated, efficient, and engaged person who prides herself on giving 150 percent to everything I do.

When did you begin pursuing drawing and sculpting? What initially attracted you to it?
I started making work at a young age, around kindergarten probably. When most kids were setting up lemonade stands, I was selling my art on the street outside our home in New Jersey. One day I grabbed my art, a table, and my stuffed animals (to keep me company) and tried to sell my work. My mom bought them all. I guess I never stopped from there. I think what initially attracted me to creating was the valued time alone to think and the desire to understand myself through making art. I just found myself doing it, like a requirement, like breathing.

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Where do you get your inspiration? What subjects or themes do you address in your art?
I mainly get my inspiration from walking and looking at the world around me. I use the visual world around me as fodder for my art. On my walks, I always stop to document what I see, like a visual log, like a diary. I compile these photos in terms of content, then I go from there, never knowing where it might take me. It’s always an up and down ride, much like life.

Generally my work is inspired by the evolution of plant growth cycles, this being a trope for our own growth, both as individuals and as a collective. Each new bloom makes room for the next. In this way I am inspired by the idea of being fully present in every moment, not always easily achieved, but if we work at this notion we might be reminded that the growth cycle requires our full attention in order to move forward.

I find the overlap of my own personal experiences combined with that of our greater community directly affects my work. The result may take on varying forms (i.e., sculpture, drawing, installation), but this is always the underlining drive of the work.

The notion of opposites also informs my art. For me, one cannot experience renewal without deconstruction. Nature is juxtaposed with manufactured structures. My work attempts to expose conceptual contradictions, consciousness and unconsciousness, and the conflicts of daily life through the passage of time.

So, back to the idea of “being present.” To me, the past seems to affect the present and the future relies on our current moment both as individuals and as a collective. In my art, I attempt to combine these two binaries that may never fit together. I do this visually by utilizing great amounts of negative space; this empty space then acts as a vacuum or room to breathe (depending on the viewer) .The positive space (the drawing of plant life or varying objects ) is the conversation or perceived inner dialogue of the individual within the collective. The pulse of the work relies on these contradictions, a constant play between conflict and harmony.

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There are so many ways to interpret and create art. Is there a signature technique or type of material/paint you like to use?
My materials and approach are always changing. So, maybe my signature style is change. Change is a constant in all our lives. There are just so many ways to express ourselves that I find myself wanting to explore it all! I think art should be ever evolving like us.

What is the best advice you have received throughout your career?
The best advice I ever received was from my art professor at the University of Montana, Maryann Bonjorni. She said, “If you keep creating, someone will eventually notice.” All careers go through ups and downs and you have to be committed to art for many years.

What challenges did you face to become the artist you are today?
Gosh, there are so many, but I’ll choose two that stand out. There was a time when I thought it would be good to open a flower shop. I was tired of being broke and reliant on sales of my art to get by. I thought I could balance creating art with running a full-time business. But as a stubborn artist, I decided not to hire anyone to help me run the business. After nine months of ownership I sold the business and went back to being broke but happy, making my art once again. Being free of the business felt like I was breathing for the first time.

Another challenge came in the form of success. I was working with a gallery in LA and found out (the hard way) that contracts are crucial to a mutual understanding between artists and gallery owners. In the end it wasn’t the gallery’s fault I felt taken advantage of — I should have known better — but they don’t teach that in art school. Afterward, I wanted to hole myself up in my studio and never show my work again. I quickly got over that notion and kept putting the work out there. One has to keep going. Like my professor said, “If you keep creating, someone will eventually notice.”

I know you have performed and taken part of 23 different exhibitions. What is your proudest moment or greatest achievement in your career thus far?
I’d have to say graduating from grad school with a broader understanding of who I am as an artist and where I need to take the work is a big one. Having commercial success is fabulous, but when the day is done, being excited with what I make is more important. I either come home elated at my new visual discoveries or totally frustrated. However, sometimes there is a happy medium where I feel like I’m reading a really good book, nice and steady, and just work on my art and fully engaged in the process.

How do you balance your personal life and your career?
Life can easily get in the way of creating. People constantly think you have free time because you have a day off. My free moments are spent investigating my art. I guess one could say, I work so I can work (on my art). Keeping a steady pace of visual investigation is important to maintaining a consistent studio practice and generating a fresh flow of ideas. Getting used to saying “no” to unnecessary engagements is crucial. But it’s really hard; one usually takes the other over. Being mindful of my needs as a professional artist and as human being is important for knowing when to call either or quits.

What kind of legacy do you want to leave with the world and future generations?
I suppose my desired legacy would be one where I never gave up on my work as an artist. That I was willing to work until the end no matter what successes or failures I experienced in my lifetime. Tenacity is vital to success. In my view, failure leads to success. If one doesn’t fail, one cannot succeed — they go hand in hand.

What advice do you have for aspiring artists?
My advice is to continue making work! As they say, “life happens” — just keep making and allow yourself the freedom to fail. Through mistakes we learn, and sometimes can apply those mistakes to future success. Be free with the work and enjoy the process. Don’t think too far ahead.

BELLA’s tagline is “Beauty Defined by You.” How do you think this phrase plays into your artwork?
I think this phrase fits into my work through my own individual perception as an artist. I make what I perceive as beautiful and thought provoking and put the work out there for others to decide. Then beauty can be defined further through the viewer’s discretion.

 

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