Whitney Kitty

:: AGE

25

:: LOCATION

Santa Cruz, California, USA

:: MEDIUM

illustration, photography (using film and old cameras)

:: IDENTIFIES AS

Queer, multi racial Japanese American

As a womxn or womxn of color, why do you think it is important to create?

“To put it simply, representation matters.  When I was a child creating art, I remember that the only female artist ever mentioned was Georgia O’Keeffe, so a lot of my childhood art heros had been (white) men because my childhood self was made to believe that the greatest artists ever were all white men. I didn’t begin to learn about other female, non white, and queer artists until my freshman year of college, then my art began to take a different direction. We have such a rich history of creating, in yet our stories are not shared in mainstream media or classes. As a queer woman of color who makes art, I want to be a part of that change where our stories are constantly celebrated. So when future generations of creators are in their after school painting class, they can see people who look like them, who share the same feelings as they do, and they might feel like they are being represented.”

What has been your proudest moment as an artist/creative?

Some of my proudest moments so far is when someone comes up to me at a show, event, or some other random time and tells me that my art has made them feel less alone. Sometimes when I’m in a dark place, one of the things that keeps me going is the thought that maybe someone can learn from my artwork or it can make them feel like they can do it. That they can make art too. I am extremely grateful for all of the festivals that have invited me to be a part of their events, galleries that have taken a chance on me, and for the connections being an artist has created. I am very proud of the fact that my art has taken part in creating genuine connections.

What does art mean to you?

For me, art is a process that helps me with ideas I have about identity in what it means to be queer, to be a person of color, plus the relationships that I have with myself and others. For me, art is a tangible object that was created from feelings and has the potential to invoke other feelings in the hearts of anyone who comes across it.

What is the space you create in like?

I am lucky enough to have a home studio. It’s a cozy room with books in different languages and art supplies on the floor. There’s a desk with a lot of pens, paint, at least 2 cups of tea, some photographs, a printer, a couple of half finished pieces, and some cloth. Love letters, postcards from pen pals from around the world, flea market trinkets, and more photographs decorate the walls. Finished art pieces from college (which I like to call “little victories”) and more recent work hangs on the front wall by the door. There’s also a cube like comfy green chair for the cats or anyone who wants to hang out in the studio with me.

What do you do with art that you aren’t particularly fond of?

“Sometimes when I feel like a piece isn’t doing what I want it to do, I’ll put it aside and let it live with me for a while. More often than not, they get reworked a different month, repurposed, or one day, I fall in love with it and say ‘HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO WRONG ABOUT YOU?’ and it becomes one of my favorite pieces.”

Do you have any words of advice for young artist/creators out there?

“Only you can create the art that you make. When you are starting out, it is okay if your art looks like another’s. Many of us have tried on the voices of others in order to find our own. Art is a constant learning process. There are times when you will throw out the first few drafts of a piece, waste expensive materials or forget that one idea you had that would have been your masterpiece. When this happens you have to learn how to cope. Build a community or try to join one. Be a good citizen of the community you wish to join. You don’t need the approval of anyone to create your own truth. Lift up other artists and support their work. Realize that nobody creates in a vacuum.”

Whitney, we love the vivid + colorful details of your work. I feel like I keep noticing new things in your illustrations that make me smile. We especially love how you say “You don’t need the approval of anyone to create your own truth” #TRUE. If you’re ever in the Bay or San Diego, let’s draw together!