Get to Know Artist Kit Mizeres
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Kit Mizeres (@kitmizeresart) is an American artist and illustrator with no fixed abode. She initially hailed from a small wintery town in Ohio, and then went on to graduate from the Columbus College of Art and Design with a focus on Illustration in 2016. Since then, she has enjoyed taking her sweet time living on the road as she continues to collect and draw inspiration from her new and ever-changing surroundings, as well as the wonderful strangers she has met along the way. Her work often takes on a very maximalist, dreamlike approach that heavily incorporates themes of folklore and personal mythology.
Interviewer Alexi Ueltzen (@alexi) is Ello's Social Media & Email Manager. She lives in Evergreen, CO with her husband, two dogs, and one hedgehog named Ditters who hates everything except for mealworms and tunnels.
First off, tell us a little about your path to becoming an artist. Have you always been a sketcher/painter/creator?
Hmm, I'm not entirely sure! I'd like to say yes, but when trying to re-envision my childhood, I only really recall catching frogs, swimming in muddy ponds, and being chased by angry beehives in the woods as the bulk of my growing up. Art was definitely in there somewhere, but I think adventure always came first. If anything, I was more of a storyteller than an artist as a kid, which developed into a visual form of art as I grew older. It wasn't until school required more sitting around in desks all day and less play where I began to doodle more. And it wasn't until my teenage years where someone told me I can try and pursue it for a living, and that's probably when I began my descent down the rabbit hole, and I don't think I ever climbed back out.
How did you develop your signature style? Because it is fucking awesome.
Thanks! It's actually still developing, but I hope to achieve something more concrete with my style one day. I still view myself as this little dainty plant who's still waiting to blossom (as a friend once put it), and I'm still discovering myself and where I'm going. I think my affinity toward nature certainly inspires the more organic aspects of my art, and the amount of detail I use is just the result of my turning to art as a form of therapeutic meditation. I put a lot of time into art because I really enjoy the process above all else.
You say that folklore and mythology inspire a lot of your work. What are some of your favorite folktales and/or myths? Asking because I really want to read them.
Sure! I'm really into a lot of Japanese folklore as of recently and plan to incorporate more of that into some upcoming work. But past works of mine have related to a lot of Greek mythology (due to my family background) and especially anything relating to Jungian psychology and dream symbolism, which is heavily influenced by the idea of "universal symbolism," which are common motifs that can be found throughout a large portion of folklore and mythology found all over the world. But to answer your question on my favorite, the first that instantly came to mind as a primary source of inspiration is probably the Tibetan Book of the Dead. I feel a little guilty throwing it into the folklore category since the creators of the book consider it to be a real-life recounting of events that absolutely do and will take place (and perhaps it is, who's to say), but the surreal aspects of it are just so fascinating. It's a tough read since it's massive and there are a ton of hymns and mantras thrown in there (like a J.R.R. Tolkien novel, but reverse the amount of text for the amount of song), but the content is quite beautiful. Dark, but beautiful.
Are any of your pieces tattooed on your body? Or anyone else? I just really want to see your work in tattoo form.
Ah yes, I do have two largish tattoos that I designed myself. But I don't know if they're really in my style, entirely. I really like folk art styled tattoos, so mine could fall into that genre, only they're just in the black line-work stage. Maybe one day I'll finish them, but for now, I'd rather spend the money on more important things, like food!
You’re a serious traveler and don’t have a “fixed abode.” Do you live out of a suitcase or do you have a sweet travel van? Asking because I am fascinated by people who live nomadic lifestyles.
At first, I technically lived out of my car, which held everything I owned. It was nice to have my printer, scanner, oils and other junky supplies with me at all times. I didn't exactly live out of it, though, since I would sleep and stay under actual roofs in the places I went to, but there were definitely a few nights where I had to (ha!). And I loved going to a ton of locations where I could camp because I just love camping and America has so many amazing national parks. But a few months ago I decided to expand my travels beyond the United States, so I sold that car and moved into a backpack. So now I just live out of a carry-on, and it feels like one big relief to have fewer belongings to worry about!
What advice do you have for an artist who wants to go on an extended travel adventure?
Well, it's certainly hard to travel light as an artist with all of our supplies, and it took me a while to get it down, but it's totally possible! It's a great way to challenge yourself, to see what limited resources you can work with, and I suggest giving it a try to anyone. Also, we're so fortunate to be living in a time where all we need is an internet connection and all of the sudden you have the entire world at your fingertips. It's definitely possible to make a living on the road as a freelance artist, especially thanks to the internet, and it's also just a matter of being resourceful and utilizing the environment around you, too. Personally, all I need is wifi, a post office, and a place to scan my stuff every now and then, and I'm set. Anyone can do it, as long as their heart is set on it.
What are your must-have tools for making art? Anything from software to your favorite brushes. We wanna know.
Since I have to travel light, I depend on my pens and watercolors! I miss oil paint, but I can live without them (for now). I also really miss having my scanner with me, but you can't travel the world with one of those. So, whenever I finish a project, I have to go about the town I'm in to find a place to scan my finished image. It can be a hassle, and the quality will never match that of my own scanner, but there's something rewarding about going out on this mini adventure in a foreign town to accomplish something like that. As for specific tools...I always get those questions about brushes and brands that I use, but honestly, most of my supplies have been acquired in some obscure way, whether someone gave them to me or I discovered brushes in some tiny mom and pop shop, and they looked usable enough (and cheap enough). Again, I don't know if I'm seasoned enough to have any preferred brands at this point in my career (or wealthy enough!).
Can you tell us a little about how you use social media as an artist, and why you’re on Ello?
I'm not the most tech-savvy person (which is shameful for my generation), so I actually wouldn't have had any sort of social media at all if it wasn't for art! I'm so thankful to have access to all this constant inspiration from so many amazing artists from around the world, now! And that's what is great about a platform like Ello, where you have access to all of this inspiration and are constantly exposed to new and amazing artists. I can't imagine what it was like for artists even just 15 years ago, where they didn't have access to this kind of online exposure. I certainly don't know where my art style would be if I wasn't exposed to the kind of art that I've seen online over the years. I'm so thankful for platforms like yours!
What are you doing when you’re not painting monkeys or foxes or clams?
Usually getting lost in some new place, trying to play charades with the local shop owners who don't speak any English (since my lazy American ass only knows one language) asking them for something silly like having their unused cardboard boxes to use for shipping nonsensical things to my friends and family. Or eating fries and ice cream, I do a lot of that, too.
You can follow Kit on Ello, Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr.