Featured Artist Kristy Darnell Battani
What is your name or the name you go by for your art?
Kristy Darnell Battani
Where do you live?
Austin, Texas USA
What’s your background?
I have always loved art—drawing, painting, whatever. I started in college taking studio art classes, but the truth is I had no idea what it meant to be an artist, so I gravitated towards advertising and design, which seemed a more concrete endeavour to my 18 year-old self. After graduating, I didn’t really see a path forward that appealed to me, so I headed straight to law school, because “smart” people were “supposed” to go to law, medical or business school.
For ten years I was an intellectual property litigator at two large, international law firms before I finally got the courage to go back to school for graduate studies in design—because I still didn’t know what it meant to be a studio artist. For many years I juggled design work, teaching, being a mother, and even returned to practicing law before I started to understand what a studio art practice could be and how much I loved it. Now, I am happily and gainfully employed as a full-time artist and host of the ARTish Plunge podcast.
Which media do you prefer to work with?
These days I am predominantly a mixed media artist, working with outdated print materials, acrylic, ink, etc. Early on I worked almost exclusively in encaustic, which I still use for some three-dimensional work. I love the depth, layers and translucency achieved with encaustic paint and try to replicate those qualities using other media like acrylic and resin.
How did you learn your craft i.e. college, self-taught and what did that entail?
Design school was the two-year boot camp I needed to re-enter the creative world after being a lawyer for so many years. Lifelong exploration and education are critical, so I read (art process, biographies, and business books), listen to podcasts, participate in artist critique and business groups, and attend at least one workshop each year.
What does your work aim to say?
The passage of time intrigues me. As 2020 demonstrated, time can be elusive to quantify, so I use the disintegration and deterioration of materials as the lens through which I consider time. As we age, time seems to speed up, stuffed full of tangible things that can overwhelm, and yet those same things are simultaneously deteriorating and becoming obsolete. I want close scrutiny of my work to reveal the fragments of these deteriorating materials in abundant chaos, while simultaneously offering a sense of order and calm from afar.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
As my artwork has taken on textile sensibilities, I have thought more about the role of textiles, often created by women, and the exclusion of such domestic art forms from the traditional, male-dominated art world. In my work I frequently use old magazine pages, advertisements, manuals and catalogues that contain ridiculous commentary or advice for the “fair sex,” absurdities that I try to highlight in the abstract work that evolves in my process.
Who are your biggest influences?
I love the scale, message, and texture of Mark Bradford’s work. Rauschenberg’s Combines inspired my use of ordinary materials, and now I look for inspiration from talented textile artists like Dorothy Caldwell, Debra Smith, Kathryn Clark and Jodi Alexander.
How do you navigate the art world?
I try to observe what interests me with little attention to trends. I like to combine contradictory or unexpected things, so I often look to art forms outside my own for ideas for tools, processes, techniques and colour palettes. I don’t spend a lot of time entering juried shows or pursuing galleries, although I do look for new art installations or museum exhibits to experience.
How have you developed your career? How do you seek out opportunities?
I have been fortunate to have two studios in high-visibility, high-traffic areas, surrounded by other artists, which has helped me stay aware of opportunities to show my work and collaborate with other artists, to meet new collectors and art consultants, and broaden my reach.
How do you cultivate a collector base?
I use my website and a monthly(ish) newsletter to stay in contact with my followers and to a lesser extent social media like Instagram. I work with several art consultants who have exposed my work to broader audiences in public and corporate spaces.
How do you price your work?
I use a form of square inch pricing, allowing additional mark-ups for special source materials, commission, delivery and rush fees.
Do you have any tips for young artists just starting out?
Treat your work and yourself professionally. Show up each day with discipline, as consistently as you would for any other job. In addition to creating new work, part of your “job” is to get out and see artwork, talk to other artists, read, listen to podcasts, watch videos, write and document in some manner the things that inspire you.
Do you have any exhibitions coming up?
Austin Studio Tour, Austin, Texas / Nov 6-21, 2021 https://www.bigmedium.org/ast
Where can you be found on social media?
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