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Conversations with Kristen Oyer

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Oyer.

Hi Kristen, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve been an artist. I’m a born-and-raised St. Louisan, so my favorite outing growing up was a trip to the St. Louis Art Museum and the London Tea Room, which is true still! I became a huge fan of Degas, Cassatt, Morisot, Monet, etc… I always knew I wanted to do art for as long as I lived, and then one day I rounded the corner in SLAM and finally saw – no, experienced – “Burning Rods” by Anselm Kiefer. That’s when I knew I wanted to BE an artist.

In 2018, I graduated just across the river from Principia College, where I received my bachelor’s degree in studio art. For my capstone, I produced an installation piece which consisted of numerous bedsheets, arranged together as a large quilt and painted with white house paint. Various objects such as baby shoes, human hair, and ceramics were placed throughout the piece, illustrating the process of letting go of physical objects which heavily influence one’s life. During my capstone, I also choreographed and directed a dance film titled “RUE,” filmed by Vince Lomascolo. These two projects helped me realize my passion for creating collaborative and contemplative work.

Since March 2020, I’ve released six collections of work. My mediums range from digital design to abstract multimedia canvas paintings. My last collection, titled “The Poésie Collaboration,” was a partnership between myself and 10 selected poets from around the world where I created work inspired by their submitted poems.

My studio and following has been growing slowly and organically, and I’m so grateful for the members of the St. Louis art community for being such fierce advocates for their fellow makers! Most of my online audience and collectors are nonlocal, due to the nature of the pandemic, so it’s been exciting to get to know more of the local scene over the past few months.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Oh GOSH. Well, I didn’t begin selling my work seriously until after the pandemic had started, and it has been an experience. I think I can say that this year and a half has held more collective grief, pain, anger, relief, and frustration than any other, and artists, with our pretty brushstrokes and beautiful studios, were in no way exempt from that. Thankfully, I’ve had heaps of help from family, friends, online courses in marketing, and my amazing partner. My cats also always know what to say.

I would never in my life express gratitude toward the circumstances we are in now, but I will say that I am incredibly grateful for the amount of encouragement I have gotten while creating work during a pandemic. Art must be made during challenging times. It always has and it always will, and I’m proud that mine helped at least one person to see some light during this dark time.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a multimedia artist, which I love because I can’t really be pinned to one thing. I love thick paint, I adore fabrics, I enjoy smashing bisque clay and dipping it in varnish. What happens on my canvas usually comes from a place of cautious experimentation rather than sophisticated expertise.

I’d say what people most appreciate from me, at least from my online presence, is my sense of humor. I’m not afraid to poke fun at myself or my practice. You can make people laugh online about burnout and still be a respected artist! Having a deep appreciation for laughter has gotten me through the most difficult times in my life and, since incorporating the funniness of life into my Instagram account, I’ve found so many others who would say the same.

I’m incredibly proud of releasing the Poésie Collaboration in early August this year, which took just under 4 months to create. The connections that have been built because of that project are priceless, and the pieces have inspired so many collections to come in the next few years.

Is there a quality that you most attribute to your success?
Consistency is the first valuable habit that comes to mind. When I’m consistent in my artistic practice, showing up every day or every week, good things happen with my art. If I actively show up online, more good people come to see my work. On the other end of that, though, is being able to set boundaries — “No, I can’t do this for free” or “I shouldn’t be on Instagram today for my mental health.” I can only be consistent if I set limits!

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