When I met artist, Kate Roebuck, she had just moved to Oxford, Mississippi, where my shop is and it was instantly one of those connections that you don't have often. We. Hit. It. Off. Music, art, style, everything. We just spilled our guts and become fast friends. She was working for the amazing Hable Construction at the time and was traveling to Athens, GA for a week each month, so our time, when she was around was special and we made a point to get breakfast together and just talk ideas, art, projects we were working on. A true meeting of the minds. I knew her time here was limited since her husband was in law school and those years were quickly coming to an end, before they moved to Chattanooga, TN.
Kate is one of those self employed working artists that I have learned so much from. She pushes me to show my photography more, encourages me when I have an idea and is the person I run to when I have a problem. Aside from all of that, she is just so talented and the advice that I will take away from for the questions below is invaluable. Please get to know Kate Roebuck a little more...
1. What does 7 AM look like to you? However, I know you well enough to ask you what 5 AM looks like to you. I love starting my day early. I realize some people are slow starters and end their days late, but for me— morning is easily the best time of day. I try to get to my studio pretty early, enjoy a cup of coffee, enjoy the diffused morning light, and do something inspirational. I used wake myself up by my looking at my phone, checking social media, seeing if anyone has emailed me. Recently a friend told me about a study regarding social media. Some smarty-pants-brain-scientists studied the effects of looking at images and deduced that without realizing it, we start to compare ourselves with what we are seeing each time we flick through instagram or twitter. Maybe this doesn’t happen with everyone, and I can absolutely see GREAT value in social media— but for me, starting the day by comparing myself to someone else or another artists work seems like a bad idea. Now, I TRY ( I am certainly not perfect and there are mornings I wake up to the blaring phone light in my face!) starting my day with something that will build me up— so I can be on my own team— like writing, or thinking of a prompted question, or having a few minutes of quiet. I find that the way I treat myself when when I wake up, has a great effect my mood and my productivity the rest of the day.
2. What's your favorite part of the day? Well, obviously I love mornings, but I think each part of the day has its sweetness. After I leave the house in the morning to go to my studio ( currently I live about 25 mins away— but in a month or so I will live 5 mins away!), I always call my mom and talk to her while we both commute to work. Despite the fact that we live hundreds of miles from each other, I love this time of day because it feels like I am right there with her, gabbing about whatever. Once I am at my studio, it is quiet and I am able to think and breathe and create. I love later in the day when my studio mates get there— because they have become some of my closest friends. They are my co-workers, my best critics, my therapists, and my coffee-break dates. After work, I love the evenings because this is family time. My husband and I will cook dinner, read, watch something, or just talk and enjoy some down time and the beauty that comes with dusk. Each moment is one to be enjoyed.
3. How do you find "me" time, since you work for yourself, how do you separate work and personal down time? This question is usually a favorite of mine to answer— not because I have it all figured out, but because I was once given some very good advice and I LOVE sharing it. When you work for yourself, one of your biggest assets is your time— you must endeavor to protect it. I have always been pretty great with a schedule, I try to keep pretty regular hours and unless I have a deadline to meet— I try not to work on the weekends so I can keep that reserved for my family. Amazingly, by keeping weekends and evenings for family and fun— it makes me WANT to be in the studio working even more! When Monday morning rolls around, I am excited to get into the studio and work until its time to put down the paint brush, so to speak. With that being said, I try to be open to visitors though out my day because, in the end— I believe that we are all hard-wired for relationship and investing in those around you makes life worth it.
4. With so many things going on with different channels of your work (gallery shows, One Kings Lane sales, your online store, free lance print work, etc... ), how do you juggle it all? An invisible secretary? A robotic calendar keeper? Google-something-or-other? I WISH! The busy that I am juggling is similar in nature so it is easy to keep all the balls in the air with a really great calendar and a chalkboard list system! The chalkboard hangs in my studio and it is large — so I can see what I have got going on, and then scratch out what I have completed each day. Every Friday— I try to make sure the chalkboard is updated ( I also clean my studio every Friday to some great tunes— I call it “clean Friday” and I have roped the other studio mates into the same craziness!)In the spring, I coach lacrosse at a local girls high school— which is when it gets complicated because it is a totally separate job from the full-tie one I have being an artist. I try not to take on more than I can handle— I am learning S-L-O-W-L-Y that saying NO! is loving to myself and to others. I have a few rules for myself, and this works because I have an idea of the speed at which I work: at most ONE big thing per month, its OK to ask for more time, be CLEAR about deadlines before you say yes, and that whole “ it will be great exposure” thing is really only “great” if it works for you. One day— I will be Beyonce and not get out of bed for less than a million dollars— but until then, I have a calendar and a few rules to govern my time!
5. What is your favorite family tradition and what does it entail? Because I don’t yet have any children— my bigger “traditions” are still those developed with my parents and in-laws— which I love, but really hope to have my own some day! On a smaller scale— my husband and I try to reserve a few nights each month for a date-night and I love those times. No phones, just us. We usually go to a bar near by that has a two-for-one beer and a burger night each week. It's not pretentious, just some good food and drink for cheap in a divey restaurant where we can talk and connect. Other than that— one thing we do is stay on the same sleeping schedule. I realize this seems simple and pretty basic— but we try to go to sleep and wake up together everyday and that is a sweet tradition that I hope lasts for as long as it can!
6.What are your "can't leave home without" items? I can’t leave home without a book in my purse ( NERD) and my headphones! I can’t work without listening to something— it helps my mood so much. When I want to feel something deeply— I put on The National or Alt-J. When I want to feel upbeat I put on Lucius or The Cults. When I want to dance I put on Katy Perry or Nikki Minaj, and keep tap shoes in my studio for this reason. I always keep a book on hand because sometimes I need a break and I try to limit looking at images throughout the day so I don’t get overwhelmed visually— I am learning to care for myself by stepping-away-from-the-
7. What's your next step in growing your brand? My brand is really an umbrella for my sister-in-law Laura and I to work and grow something together. It's a place for us to be in community with each other and help build one another up. We work independently— but critique and push one another, and exhibit our work online together. Our brand is ever-evolving, but thats the beauty of growth. I think both of us would love more gallery representation, we would love to have an excuse to travel more, we would love to have our art made into product so that anyone could have it, but also what we have works for us right now. Where we are in life, navigating our gifts and our current responsibilities and wives and mothers and soon to be ( but not in the immediate future!) mothers is enough to handle and growth from there will hopefully happen naturally.
8. What did you find as some of the biggest hurdles when taking the leap to working for yourself? THE biggest hurdle when working for yourself is working through the moments of doubt, self- criticism, judgement, comparison, and questioning. My friend describes the artistic process to me as a slowly evolving slope ( hopefully) moving upward. In between the “I AM AWESOME!” moments and the moments when you are in “the groove” there are moments when that slope dips down into judgement, thinking you are terrible, thinking you have nothing to offer, an questioning why it is you do what you do. The best way to combat this is by having a great community of people who love you that can pick you up when you are down, and to kick the crap out of the devil on your shoulder telling you that "you suck!” For me this is family, my husband, my sister-in-law, my studio mates Mia and Addie, and my bestie Erin. I think the creative process was maybe designed this way— it makes us better to go through the swamp a little bit and it also forces a very introverted career to rely on something outside of yourself to get you out!
9. Favorite downtime activity with your family? My husband and I are relatively simple people. We love having dinner parties with friends, which can be elaborate or everyone bring your own take-out because I am tired out! We love reading together, same couch…different books. Watching very highbrow shows like Parks and Recreation, New Girl, and Project Runway. It doesn’t take much to have fun with the people you love, its the company not the activity right!?
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