As her solo show Pet Store comes to a close, our gallery manager Lyndsie Fox sat down with artist Kristina Micotti to talk about her ideal pets, the Renegade Craft Fair and keeping things loosey goosey... baby.
I remember first seeing your work years ago at Renegade Craft in San Francisco, and immediately fell in love with your style! The subjects and their narratives are bright, funny, whimsical, and rendered so playfully loose. How did this particular style develop for you?
It really started at my first Renegade Craft Fair in SF. I had just graduated college and had a portfolio filled with intricate pen drawings and made them into prints to sell. I was worried that my booth would be too empty so I decided to do some quick ink paintings to fill up the space. Little did I know that I would sell all the quick ink paintings that I did the night before and only a fraction of the prints that took me a whole semester to create.
That was when I started to primarily paint with india ink and I started to get recognized for my ink paintings. Over the past 6 years of doing shows, my paintings have really developed into the style I have now. I used to only use black ink but slowly I have allowed myself to use more color in my work. I still like to work last minute and normally don’t create the paintings for the shows until a week before. It allows me to work in the moment, keeping things fresh, and helps me not to overthink it.
This style embodies such childlike freedom—a purity uninhibited by exact form and strict rules. The marks just fall where they fall, and you make something whole and happy out of them no matter what. Are your free-flowing style, subject matter, or funny narratives influenced by your work with children?
Since teaching, I find myself experimenting more with new mediums as well as playing with different colors and patterns. However, I wouldn't contribute my overall style to working with children, since teaching is still relatively new to me.
You tend to work fairly fast and, seemingly, without any revisions. Do you actually create work within that sort of “one-and-done” process, or is there a lot of drafting and re-working behind the scenes that you don’t share?
This is true for my ink paintings! I like to keep those loosey goosey baby. However, when I work with other mediums or designing a new product, I do a sketch on my iPadPro and then play around with different color combinations until I find one I am happy with. That way when I start my painting or doing my final design, I know the colors I’m using and a rough placement of things.
The majority of your work focuses on animals. Why do you gravitate toward animals as subject matter? What are you expressing through them that you can’t express through, say, humans or inanimate objects?
I have always been drawn to animals since I was little. I would always just observe the animals in our yard - I grew up in a farming community where there was a plethora of wild cats, deer, lizards and quails and I was always down to see what bugs were on the sidewalk. I also had a huge affinity towards monkeys and I wanted to be Jane Goodall when I grew up. I was that kid with waaaay too many stuffed animals on their bed and I would wear those stuffed monkey toys (the ones with the velcro on their hands and feet) from the rainforest cafe around my neck as a necklace, like it was normal.
My fascination with animals only grew as I got older and it has really transferred over to my artwork. Animals allow me to be more playful and I get a big kick out of drawing them. I just think they are more fun and entertaining as a subject matter. I mean, wouldn’t you rather see a cat in sunglasses or a frog with a mustache?