ARTIST FEATURE: Q&A with Kika


1. Let’s start out with the basics, what is your job, where do you live, and what is your favorite outdoor activity?

A. I’m a full-time graphic designer for Stio, and I also do freelance illustration and animation on the side. I live in Jackson, WY, and like most people in this town my favorite way to be outside is on a pair of skis!

2. Five years ago, where would you have imagined yourself?

A. 5 years ago, I actually thought I wanted to be some type of engineer! I loved problem-solving and math, but I also had this passion for art that I thought was separate from my engineering brain. I hadn’t yet realized that design was the perfect combination of problem-solving and art, and that a career in art and design was even possible. When you’re graduating high school or just starting college there are so many other voices telling you what to pursue and what is worth your time. I’m so glad that I stopped listening and started pursuing what actually makes me happy!

3. What do you do if/when you’re at a roadblock or lacking inspiration?

A. This is a great question! I have a couple of methods because this happens to me a lot. The first is I go outside. It feels obvious, but I always get my best ideas when I’m hiking on a trail or skinning up a mountain. 
The second way is I look to other artists and creators for inspiration. I’m always saving things I see that I like so that I can come back to them, and whenever I see colors I like in the real world or on a screen I photograph them to use in my art. Sometimes I’ll find a piece I really like, even if it’s in a completely different style than what I normally make, and try to mimic it exactly. I’ll never credit that idea as my own, but just the act of thinking like someone else can jog new ideas or new processes and can be a total refresh.

4. Is there anything specific you would like to accomplish this winter season? Have you been dreaming of any particular outdoor expeditions? 

A. Yes, so many goals related to skiing – this is my second season living and skiing in the Tetons, and I have plans to do longer tours into Grand Teton National Park and ski some steeper lines. I am also hoping to land a 360 and continue working on airs! 

Other things I want to accomplish this season is fostering a more healthy relationship with my body and a work-life balance. This past year was so important in reminding me that even though I am so passionate about design and outdoor pursuits, the slow moments in life are just as vital to prioritize. Looking forward to doing puzzles, spending time by the fire, and sharing meals with my roommates and family.

5. Have you faced any barriers in the outdoors? If so, what was it and how did you overcome it?

A. Absolutely. Even though I grew up in Colorado and learned to ski from a young age, I still faced barriers feeling like a part of the “in-crowd” and trusting in myself. Skiing, like a lot of outdoor sports, is notorious for baseless exclusivity. It exists in the language we use to talk about the sport, in the way we shame beginners, and in the culture of gear and having to “look the part.” I used to be an incredibly nervous skier, and what I didn’t realize at the time was a lot of my fear around the sport was socially constructed. I was more nervous about how I was presenting myself than anything else. It was a huge breakthrough when I was able to separate the fears I had in skiing into three categories – the social nervousness of fitting in, adrenaline butterflies, and actual fear that I’m in a dangerous situation. Once I did that, I was able to recognize the fears that didn’t serve me, and let them go. 

I also credit the incredible and supportive womxn I met who helped me feel comfortable in the ski space. In a white and male dominated sport, finding ski partners and mentors who looked like me and could empathize with my social barriers was huge.

These experiences were monumental in helping me progress in the sport, but also made me realize what a stark inclusion problem there is in the outdoor space. If I, a white and privileged person who grew up in a family that skied, still felt ostracized and othered in this sport, it means there is so much work to be done on how we treat beginners and how we make the outdoors accessible for everyone, especially for BIPOC skiers and riders and differently abled people.

6. If you had to eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A. Love this question. My mom’s family is from Italy, so I have to go with a caprese salad and fresh pasta. Is that two answers? Am I cheating? (Might as well throw gelato in there too if I’m gonna cheat about it.)

7. Did you find any silver linings in 2020? 

A. Yes! Being in quarantine and able to work from home gave me a lot of time to focus on personal art and learn new skills. 
I also feel like this past year helped me form a new relationship to social media. I began sharing not only more of my art, but also more of my personal experiences related to inclusion in the outdoors. It was amazing to see the response, and I feel like I found a new community of artists, activists, and athletes that shifted how I used the internet and turned it from an often negative space to one of positive inspiration and change making. So many valuable conversations, listening, and learning occurred in that space and I will always be grateful 2020 fostered that.

8. Where is your favorite setting to wear a beanie?

A. Hmmmm, living in a mountain town I feel like there’s rarely a day I don’t wear a beanie! But I love to throw them on after skiing to hide the helmet hair, and I always bring beanies camping in the summer for when the temps drop at night. I feel like you can never have too many!

9. What advice would you give to people who are interested in pursuing a path similar to yours? 

A. A great way to start getting into design is just to throw yourself into it- working on real projects is the best way to learn. Start with your community- see if any of your friends or family needs logos or design work and go from there! Another great way to find projects is Catchafire.com. You can digitally volunteer your design efforts for non-profits for any cause, simultaneously helping the world and learning and growing as a designer.
And most importantly, don’t be afraid of a career in art! Creativity will always be valuable and the more you believe in yourself, others will too.

Your opinions matter. Let your voice be heard.


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