Spotlight Interview: Kelly Larson

Kelly Larson: Account Manager/Digital Marketing & Strategy, af&co

San Francisco CA

WFU Class of 2012

Double Major: Studio Art & Communications

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Kelly Larson catches us up on life since her graduation in 2012. Working for hospitality consultancy af&co as digital marketing strategist, Larson charts the course from Winston, to NYC, to Cali, including tips on life in San Fran + invaluable networking advice.

DeacLink: What did you study while you were at Wake?

Kelly Larson: I was a double major in Communications and Studio Art. I knew I wanted to go the advertising/marketing route after college, but was sort of making up my own creative path (vs. business marketing). I took any available classes in advertising/pr and marketing, as well as interning at Vela Communications my senior year. Some of my most formative classes were Communication Ethics with Dr. Michael Hyde and Management in the Visual Arts.

DL: Since you’ve graduated, how has your career unfolded? Can you walk me through your path from graduation day to your current job?

KL: After graduation, I moved to New York City without a job. I found my first post-grad internship through a tweet from Ken Kraemer (Deep Focus CCO and now good friend) that MadDeacs had retweeted and was at Deep Focus for nearly 5 years. As an advertising Account Supervisor, it felt pretty cool to be doing the job I had set out to do in school, but as you’d expect, that vision changed (you can only work on potato chips for so long). I realized I needed a better connection to my personal passions: creating experiences for the food & booze obsessed. My next role was a Senior Digital Strategist at M Booth, a communications agency where I helped lead digital and social media strategy. My clients were spirits & alcohol accounts, which was my pivot into the food & beverage hospitality space.

DL: What led you to transition to af&co, and how’s the new role?

KL: More so, it was my journey to San Francisco lead me to af&co. I had hit my New York expiration date and wanted my next city to be more outdoors focused and have a better work:life balance – the California weather didn’t hurt either. Moving to a new city a second time without a job, I doubled down on meeting everyone in SF in the niche field of restaurants, hotels, and hospitality marketing. I was looking for a job that was also specifically digital and was introduced to af&co’s founder, Andrew Freeman, where he basically created that position during our first meeting. Restaurants can be pretty old school about PR & Marketing, so being smart digitally is where I could make an impact and knew I had to get them up to speed. I couldn’t be more excited that my new role, Account Manager, Marketing & Digital Strategy at af&co is a perfect fit and allows me to work with fellow food nerds and restaurant, brewery, and hotel clients.

DL: What advice do you have for readers interested in breaking into the industry?

KL: Rip off the bandaid. If you want a new job or to make a big change in your life, consider that the options that feels drastic might not be so crazy. Taking uncomfortable steps becomes easier after the first one and enables you to take charge of the change. That ‘big thing’ ultimately will happen because of your network. Keep in touch, grow your contacts, and don’t be afraid to use them – you have to ask for what you need to actually benefit from ‘who you know’. And also, always follow up with a thank you – it’s basic, but essential to close the loop and show that you really want the job.

DL: How did you find and apply to the various positions you’ve held (online, inside reference/rec, networking in person, WFU resources, other)?

KL: All of the above! The easiest transition into securing a new role has been through former coworkers at the new company. Otherwise, yes – you have ask people to introduce you and to meet with people in person – especially if you are new to a city. Consider that while they might not be the person that gets you the job, they might know the person that does. Also, never leave a lead open – the further you get in your career, the smaller the circle gets. Don’t let lack of effort or self-doubt make you miss the opportunity to follow through. I’ve made that mistake.

DL: What do you think Wake could have done better to prepare you for life after graduation?

KL: While there is a lot you can learn in the classroom about how to do good work, having practical industry knowledge is so essential to even figure out what the job title is for the type of role you are interested in. I knew I wanted to be in advertising, but was I going to be a Project Manager? Account Coordinator? Associate Strategist? Community Manager? Should that be at a digital agency, traditional agency, media agency? Understanding the landscape, especially explained in real terms from recent grads would have helped a lot. Hearing from a CEO at a notable company is great, but that’s not the job I’m applying for right out of school.

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

KL: Talk to people. Anyone that offers to connect you with someone – take it. Maybe their field doesn’t feel like it relates to what you think you want to do, but you may find out about a great fit for a type of job that you didn’t even know existed. Ask them to explain the landscape of the industry they are in to you – those are the constructs you can’t google, but really only understand by being part of it. You’ll learn more about what you might want to do (or not do) and how to get there, as well as made a new connection in the process.

Spotlight Interview: Rehana Abbas

Rehana Abbas: Director of Philanthropy, Oakland Museum of California

San Francisco Bay Area, CA

Major: Art History

Minor: Anthropology

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Rehana Abbas was certain of one thing upon arrival at the Forest- she wanted to work in the arts. From graduation, she completed internships, PR roles, an MBA at Yale, and development jobs for museums. Now Director of Philanthropy for the Oakland Museum of California, Rehana speaks about her experience getting to this position, and drops major tips for those aspiring to roles like hers.

DeacLink: What did you study at Wake? How has your career unfolded since?

Rehana Abbas: I studied Art History with an Anthropology minor. I knew I wanted to work in the arts before I got to Wake. In high school, I took a trip to Italy, and I fell in love with museums and the way that art related the story and ethos of the time it was created in.

My first museum internship was at Reynolda House, and I loved it. When you’re in an academic environment, you don’t have exposure to all the roles within a museum like marketing, education, and development. My internship exposed me to the many varied roles that made a museum work.. After graduation, I worked in an art gallery for a few months. From that experience, I realized I loved the arts, but I didn’t love the art market. I realized I was interested in the in arts because of the educational aspects and how a museum bring people together, not the intricacies of the art market with pricing and creating demand for an artist’s work. When I realized this, I knew that a museum would be a better fit for me than a gallery.

With that realization, I did a public relations internship at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Going in, I really didn’t know what a PR professional did on a day to day basis, but I saw the internship as a way to get my foot in the door at a great museum. I ended up really enjoying PR. I really appreciate that most of us who graduate from Wake Forest develop very strong writing skills. That ability to craft a narrative is essential to PR, and it helped that I could write about something that I was passionate about. After that, I got a job in PR at the Peabody Essex Museum. At PEM, which to this day is one of my favorite museums on the planet, I realized that a lot of the people making big, bold decisions had an MBA. I had never really considered a business degree but as I started to understand the skills needed to be a leader in a museum--management and leadership skills, understanding of how to balance what is important to the art field and what will drive attendance, and understanding finance, I realized that an MBA would help me achieve my goals. So after 2 years at PEM, I began my MBA.

I got my MBA from Yale. They have a great nonprofit management program. All of the nonprofit executives at school said, “If you want to be a leader in an arts organization, you need to know how to fundraise. Even if it’s not what you want to do long term, get some fundraising experience.” With that in mind, after graduating I moved to San Francisco and started working at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco in development. It turns out that I really love being a museum fundraiser!.

I did briefly step out of the art world to fundraise for the UCSF Foundation. Fundraising for such a large hospital was like Development bootcamp, and it was a great experience, but . I missed the arts and wanted to go back to a museum. I found a job at SFMOMA. They were undergoing a huge expansion and campaign and I was part of the team that raised $665 million for SFMOMA during that time.. In 2017 I became the Director of Philanthropy at the Oakland Museum of California.

DL: Would you mind telling me more about this new role?

RA: In my new job, I am responsible for overseeing the team that manages fundraising from foundations, individuals and corporations. I also oversee membership and fundraising events.

The Oakland Museum of California is unique in that it is not only an art museum--we show the art, history, and natural sciences of California.his museum has a really bold and ambitious vision, and it is doing interesting work in terms of how museums can be a catalyst for social impact and really be meaningful to the communities we serve. It’s thinking about how museums can bring people together and create dialogue. Our country is more divided than ever, so creating safe public spaces for civic discourse is more important than ever. We have a bold vision that is pretty revolutionary for the museum field. Part of my job is to make sure we have the support to achieve this ambitious vision.

DL: What led you to get your MBA? How has that altered your career trajectory?

RA: There were two main reasons. One was that I was getting a little bit impatient. In museums, there is often not a lot of room for upward mobility unless you are in a very, very large museum, so you sometimes have to move out to move up. I saw a long path to get to a leadership role in a museum. Business school enabled me to jump a few rungs up the ladder more quickly.. And, as I mentioned, at the Peabody Essex Museum I saw that many of the innovators and collaborators all had MBAs. Those people were doing what I want to be doing.

DL: How have you found the different jobs you've had?

RA: Persistence! In the beginning, I didn’t have a strong network in the museum world, so I had to be very persistent.. When I was applying to my first PR job at the Peabody Essex Museum, I had applied online and didn’t hear back. But I felt strongly that the job was a great fit, and I knew that PR people will always open a FedEx envelope. So I FedExed my resume and cover letter directly to the PR manager, and from that, I got an interview, and ended up getting the job.

With SFMOMA, I reached out directly to the Director of Development to apply. He told me I wasn’t qualified, but I followed up with him when I noticed the role was still open a few months later. He gave me an interview, and I got the job. With in a few years I had received 2 major promotions. Because I was persistent, I got that interview and unparalleled career opportunities.

Networking is also very important. I found a great mentor at the Peabody Essex Museum, and he has been instrumental to my career. When I worked for him I had no idea that I would ever live in San Francisco, but it turns out that he was at SFMOMA earlier in his career. And, he worked for my current supervisor, the Executive Director at the Oakland Museum of California. Even though I haven’t worked for him in over 10 years, he’s still my strongest reference. I always make time to see him when I’m back on the east coast to maintain that relationship. Establishing a strong network and maintaining your professional reputation is so important as you continue on in your career.

DL: Development seems to be a very popular career path for art alums. What is the hardest part about breaking into this field?

RA: Development is a lot of fun because you get to work across all areas of the museum. The work my team and I do enables our colleagues to make brilliant ideas turn into realities, from access for underserved communities to exhibition development. All ideas need financial resources to become realities. I love that my role is to help bring those bold ideas to life.

DL: How do you like living in the Bay Area? How is the art scene out there changing?

RA: The art scene here is blowing up. Some very large galleries, like Gagosian and Pace, are opening locations here. We have the FOG art fair here in January.. With that fair, we have amazing dealers from around the country coming to town. When fairs are successful, satellite fairs pop up. Untitled San Francisco popped up in 2017. Those two fairs go on at the same time... plus two galleries opened last week as a part of San Francisco Art Week.

One big issue with the arts in San Francisco is that this city is so unaffordable. Artists and smaller galleries are being priced out. But the good thing is that there are newer organizations like the Minnesota Street Project. It’s a donor funded space that has more affordable space for galleries and art programming.

SFMOMA’s reopening last year was huge in the art world. The museum is an incredible contemporary and modern art museum. And all of these things have been happening in the last 12-18 months. San Francisco arts are having a moment. For museum employees, one challenge living here is that the city is so expensive and the pay doesn’t always make it possible to live here comfortably.

DL: What do you think Wake arts could do to better prepare students for life after graduation?

RA: At the highest level, running a museum is like a business. I wish I would have had a better understanding of that when I was at Wake, and of really understanding how a museum works. I wish that within the department requirements, there was something business related. For example, I think that it is so great at Wake that business majors have to take liberal arts classes--in hindsight I wish as a liberal arts major I was forced to take economics. In order to develop these skills at the level I wanted, I pursued my MBA and it was a very steep learning curve when I started my MBA program. My advice to art history students would be to take some econ or accounting classes as that knowledge will be very useful, no matter what career path you pursue.

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

RA: I have a few things I would pass on as advice, and some I mentioned earlier. Build and maintain your professional network. Diversify your knowledge by taking classes that are practical and outside of your major, such as business classes. And for current students, if you can, study abroad. As an art history major,why learn from slides when you could learn by seeing art in person? I studied abroad in Florence through a UNC Chapel Hill program and loved every minute of it.Studying abroad is also one of the greatest things you can do for yourself from a personal development perspective.

Spotlight Interview: Megan O’Sullivan

Megan O’Sullivan: Engagement Editor, Lonny Magazine

San Francisco, CA

WFU Class of 2015

Major: Business Administration with Arts Marketing Concentration

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Megan O’Sullivan shares the experiences beyond Wake Forest that led to her current position as the Engagement Editor at Lonny Magazine. The 2015 arts marketing alumni shares the importance of understanding personal strengths and pursuing goals with persistence.

DeacLink: What did you study while at Wake?

Megan O’Sullivan: I studied business, specifically arts marketing. I took this incredible class at Wake that combined business and studio art. As part of the course, we went on a trip to New York over spring break to make gallery and show visits. That class really sparked everything for me.

DL: Since you’ve graduated, how has your career unfolded? Can you walk me through your path from graduation day to your current job?

MO: I started the Executive Development Program at Neiman Marcus after graduating. I always thought I wanted to be working in the retail industry, and the program was awesome because it exposed me to so many different corners of the business. At Neimans I learned what an amazing leader is like — a few are still my mentors today. After a year there, I wanted to learn more about how retail was evolving and changing, so I took a job at Everlane and moved to San Francisco.

Everlane was also an awesome experience, and moving to S.F. is one of the best choices I ever made. At Everlane, I was working in operations and supply chain analytics. It was great to learn about the production side of retail and understand how it touches every part of the business; however, I knew that I would need to flex both my creative and business muscles in my career, and as a supply chain analyst, there is little room for creativity. As a side project, I was interviewing artists in San Francisco and publishing these interviews on a website I created called The Context. While doing this, I couldn’t help but ask myself, why am I not doing this thing that feels much more natural to me?

That led to my career transition into the editorial world. I took a job at Lonny as an Associate Editor, and knew I was in the right place immediately. I really loved (and still love) the team, I love the job every day, and really enjoy getting to cover design and art. Now, as an Engagement Editor at Lonny, I’m managing audience development and social media. I’ve learned so much about the design world, the editorial world, how to manage a brand, and more.

DL: How did you find and apply to the various positions you’ve held (online, inside reference/rec, networking in person, WFU resources, other)?

MO: Networking is so underrated, and strong persistence in following up is even more underrated. Every job I’ve ever had came from finding people on LinkedIn, finding their emails through weird email search engines, cold emailing, following up with people when they don’t answer. Fun fact: I applied to Everlane 3 times before landing a job there. I wrote very persistent emails and tracked people down before I was hired. It works!

DL: What made you want to go into the magazine industry, and what advice do you have for readers interested in breaking into the industry?

MO: I love storytelling, creating content, and great writing. I get joy out of reading great articles that capture a concept or thought or feeling so accurately, so I really enjoy being part of that world. I guess my advice would be: ask yourself why you want to be in the industry, and what exactly you love writing or reading about. Then, find the editors who work in those spaces, and ask if you can freelance (you can do this while you’re a student!). Editorial internships are great too.

I ultimately decided to move away from writing and into social strategy on the marketing team, because there is a part of my brain that really loves being analytical and strategic. So I think it’s important to think about what your natural skills and tendencies are, and what position makes the most sense for you!

DL: What is your favorite part about your job?

MO: Learning about the design world is my most favorite part of my job. To be completely frank, I didn’t know a lot about design before working at Lonny. I love the subject matter and meeting new people within the space, too.

DL: What do you think Wake could have done better to prepare students for life after graduation?

MO: I wish Wake pushed me to think more about my natural skills and tendencies when planning my career. I knew that business school was right for me, but I felt bad about myself when finance and accounting didn’t feel natural to me. What I’ve since learned is — that’s okay! We all have things we are good at, and things we are not so good at. When thinking about your career, lean into the things you are good at.

DL: What attracted you to San Francisco, and how’s it compared to your time in Dallas?

MO: San Francisco is incredibly progressive, in every sense of the word. I feel very stimulated in San Francisco and surrounded by forward-thinking people, both in terms of business and culture. That is all really important to me! Dallas is where I grew up, but personally, I feel much more connected to the mindset here in California.

DL: What's the best kernel of advice you can think to pass on to current students and recent alums?

MO:

  1. Never run from a job, run TO a job.

  2. Think about what job excites you and stimulates you to your core. Some might say that is a very privileged way of thinking, but I truly believe that if we are aligning our careers with our personal values and skills, we are much more likely to be successful (and happy and mentally well!).

Spotlight Interview: Betsy Rives

Betsy Rives: Strategist, Google

San Francisco, California

WFU Class of 2008

Major: Studio Art

Double Minor: Art History & Women and Gender Studies

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Betsy Rives launched into an MFA program only a year after graduating from Wake. After time in DC and New York, Betsy took the advice of a mentor from Scales' art faculty and moved to Los Angeles. Now a Strategist at Google's San Fran HQ, Betsy catches us up on her current role and the path which led her there.

DeacLink: Working at Google is a dream for many- what's your role in the San Fran office, and what sort of duties does it entail?

Betsy Rives: I am a Strategist at Google within the Real Estate and Workplace Services team, the group that helps design Google’s built environment. Our organization touches everything from desk spaces to transportation and from the food program to local ecology. I am one of 6 Strategists, and we act as internal consultants for the org. We help to solve a wide variety of problems by designing research methodologies, organizational structures, internal technology platforms, and systems guidance. My day to day includes meetings with lots of different people throughout Google in order to carefully understand user needs and identifying areas for growth.

DL: We understand you got an MBA from Yale. How was that? Did you enter hoping to achieve a particular goal?

BR: I actually have two graduate school experiences. I received my MFA in Interrelated Media from MassArt in 2011, and I finished my MBA in Design and Innovation from Yale in 2017 (last May). These were two very different programs, and I entered each for different reasons and with different mindsets.
I entered the MFA program only 1 year after graduating (which was too soon, Professors David Faber and Page Laughlin warned me as such). I started my MFA in the painting program and had the goal to simply make work and make connections. I did just that. I had a wonderful and intense experience, as David said, MFAs are like making 10 years of growth in only 2. The program was mentally challenging and played a huge role in how I think about problem solving, materials, and critical dialog.
After my MFA, I took advice from Page, and moved to Los Angeles. In LA I was fortunately to
land an incredible role at LACMA (the LA County Museum of Art). At LACMA I worked in
Membership and then Education. I worked closely with artists and the public, and I started
developing a new skillset .. data analysis. I was able to use basic data interpretation to increase
the number of students the museum could serve, improve our educational programs, and assist
artists with the challenging process of budget creation. I didn’t know best practices around this type of work, so I decided to go back to school for my MBA. I did not have the slightest idea of what to expect in business school. Yale was a big culture shift for me. I quickly learned that there is a huge world of business leaders that highly value creative thinkers. My art background allowed me to quickly stand out within my cohort. I led the Design and Innovation group at Yale, which allowed me to leverage all of my Wake Forest skills in a new setting.

DL: Did you feel prepared for life after undergrad as you exited WFU?

BR: I graduated from Wake in 2008, at the height of the financial crisis. Page, David, Jen, all of the wonderful crew at Wake, cautioned me against going straight to grad school for my MFA
(rightfully so), but I was a bit lost. I moved to DC because my sister lived there, and I soon found administrative work. I worked at George Washington University as a receptionist until I found a job as a Director of a gallery in Georgetown. I only worked at the gallery for a few months before the owner announced we would be closing due to the economy. I then found another role as an event planner in the legal field. All of the stress of job hunting and job hopping in the first 9 months after school motivated me to apply for grad school, despite not being fully ready.
I don’t know if anyone or anything could have fully prepared me for life after undergrad
(though all of the rock-star professors at WFU tried). However, the greatest gift I have received
from all of the art faculty at Wake was the confidence to take chances and embrace the
unpreparedness. I have had a lot of not-so- glamorous jobs since graduation (from scooping ice cream to crowd-control), but the terrific experience I had at Wake instilled a resilience in me and the assurance that everything will work out.

DL: Throughout your journey, you've picked up tremendous amounts of experience; what advice sticks out to you the most?

BR:  The faculty in the art department provided some of the most stabilizing advice for my career. For example, I remember talking to Jen about how your 30s are so much better than your 20s. It seems silly to say, but I clung to that conversation as a promise that things would get better if I pushed myself throughout the uncertainty my 20s. Likewise, when I was finishing my MFA, I ran into David and Page in New York. Page suggested I move to LA because I was completely lost, and she responded to my skepticism by confidently saying that I could make it work. I followed Page’s advice, and I frequently told myself throughout that tough transition to Los Angeles that I only needed one person to believe in me and I had Page. In fact, I knew I had all of the WFU community supporting me through the wisdom and personal support I received throughout my time at Wake.

Spotlight Interview: Kristi Chan

Kristi Chan: Artist

San Francisco

WFU Class of 2015

Major: Studio Art

Minor: Art History

Artist Kristi Chan is a vivacious soul, characterized by an even balance of optimism and tenacity. The recent graduate and travel pro explains how she ended up on the opposite side of the country from her North Carolina home, pursuing what she loves most: creating.

 

DeacLink: What are you up to right now?

Kristi Chan: Right now I teach elementary and middle school art at Presidio Hill School, three days a week. I was also recently working for photographer McNair Evans in the city, which was really great. In addition to these, I do commission works on a regular basis and write/shoot for an online magazine called The Bold Italic. I have always had side projects, or ‘hustles’ going on. 

In my spare time, which I feel there’s never enough of, I’m working on personal painting and photography projects. I’ve just been accepted as a studio resident at ArtSpan, a local arts organization in the city which provides studios for applicants who have never had a space to work in before, or have been displaced from their studio. I move in the next couple weeks, and can’t wait to get started there. Prior to this, I’ve been carving out two areas in my apartment to create work- one in my room and a corner of the shared living room. Most studios I had looked at were more expensive than my apartment, so I had to make it work! 


DL: Take us through your journey since graduating from Wake.

KC: I graduated in 2015 with a teaching job lined up in Argentina for that summer teaching a high school study abroad course on photojournalism and social change. Afterward I came back to the States, but didn’t go home to Charlotte. I had applied for journalism jobs up in DC and New York, so spent time interviewing there to understand the environment and how life would be if I were to go that route. I realized I wasn’t ready for an office job, and neither city was really for me. I participated in a photography workshop in Provincetown, Cape Cod where a few friends of mine were already. Once the workshop concluded, I was beyond inspired to continue my work, but had to face the facts- I had no money, no ticket home, and no car. I caught a ride out West to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I was working on hot air balloon rigs for two months to have an income, until the opportunity to catch another ride arose. My friend picked me up on his way to see family in Montana. From there I hopped to Seattle, and trickled down the coast via train until I landed in San Francisco. I’ve been here for a year since.


DL: Did you consider a graduate degree after Wake? 

KC: Yes, and I’m still considering it. I don’t think I’m ready just yet, but with more time I’ll have a better grasp of how things work in the crazy art world, and then return to school. I want to have a few more shows and publications under my belt before applying to programs, and a more complete portfolio in general.


DL: Did your studies or Wake in general inform or drive your career path?

KC: Yes, very much so. I was encouraged by my professors to pick art as a major while at Wake, though most people were worried about a potential future in the arts, and advised against it. Despite the voices in my ear saying, ‘You won’t be able to do anything with art,’ I chose what I loved and felt all the more motivated to prove that opinion wrong. Wake’s prevalence of Business and Science, and more directly career-oriented majors can create the pressure to be boxed in, but the professors in the Art Department were so supportive that I chose something I knew I would love doing even if the path was really undetermined.

The best skill I acquired while in undergrad was the process by which I learned to make artistic decisions. Having to make and defend the reasoning of my decisions with each image and painting I produced helped create a process that taught me to consider the intention and impact of each of those decisions, a process that carried over into my life. It's also probably a big reason behind why I like to travel, and have worked for opportunities that allow me to do so. I learned to be comfortable with the constant ambiguity in an art career or while traveling, which I've learned is a pretty valuable transferable skill! I apply the same process I use when painting to navigate the extreme uncertainty of life as an artist now. There is no one to tell you how to make decisions in painting, and life is the same- both are very open and up to the individual. I feel extremely free and capable to take the steps I need to, and time my decisions with confidence.


DL: Do you think Wake’s art program prepared you for life as an artist in the real world?

KC: While there are many wonderful things about our art program, I don't think it's really designed to train career artists. It’s pretty uncommon for Studio majors to graduate on to careers as artists. I loved my classes, and while I acquired a great amount of studio skills, I didn’t learn enough business skills to know what it would take to be, say, a small business owner or sole proprietor. As an artist you have to be your own business, which of course requires business skills- something I felt that I was lacking in. I had a little knowledge of budgeting and business basics, because I took entrepreneurship classes, but if you look at how Business majors are prepared across their time with resume reviews, internships, mock interviews, etc... you'll realize where there are some potential gaps in our program. The closest simulation to networking I had was gallery openings where the artist would visit, and you try to get a moment with them. 


DL: What’s the hardest part about breaking into your field?

KC: I think it’s really easy to see how big the art world is. It’s hard to avoid comparing yourself to other artists, and equally difficult to devote the required time, money and space to create work you believe in.

It can be discouraging when you’re producing work that no one is seeing or buying. But you have to wholeheartedly believe that what you’re doing is worthwhile, and pick yourself up by the bootstraps. It’s already been a year in this city, and I understand that I have a far way to go. But I know this is what I should be doing, and that keeps me going.


DL: How do you like living and working in San Francisco? Do you have any advice for students wanting to move there?

KC: I love living in San Francisco. The Bay Area is really vibrant culturally, and there’s a rich history in the arts here. While a lot has changed with the growth of the tech industry and many artists have been pushed out of the city, there remains a creative, can-do spirit that I draw a lot of motivation from. I meet artists, makers, and creators everywhere I go, and the arts are something that people really value here.  The outdoors are also a big part of my life, and so being able to climb, surf, and backpack on any given weekend is a huge plus. SF has surprisingly good surf, and I can be on a trail outside the city within a 30 min drive.


As far as advice for students wanting to move here--it is a really challenging city to live in. They say it takes about a year to feel like you live here. This isn’t news to anyone, but it is extremely expensive. I feel like I won the lottery with my housing situation, but for the most part average rent for a room in an apartment with roommates is about 1200-1600. A lot of artists have moved to Oakland across the bay, but even that area has gotten really expensive. Some days I think to myself half-jokingly that I probably picked the worst city to decide to be a “starving artist” in, but most of the time I couldn’t be happier to be where I am now.


DL: What piece of advice do you currently go by, that you can leave with us?

KC: Say yes to every opportunity until you can’t… if you aren’t challenging yourself then you’re just making excuses. No one’s gonna do it for you.
 

Visit Kristi's website here

Follow her on Instagram @kristi_chan