Flair |fler| 1. A special or instinctive aptitude or ability for doing something well.

Hello Everyone! Today's Creative Flair consists of a pretty talented lady with artistic skills in all tools of the trade. I'd like to give a huge thanks to her for guiding us through her creative endeavor. Seeing her work and her responses from the interview, I say she knows a thing or two about design ;) 

In a few sentences describe yourself and what you do.

I'm an independent Creative Director, Graphic Designer, and Stylist. I work with a variety of clients on projects ranging from business cards and advertisements to larger branding projects, magazine spreads, etc. I also serve as the Art Director of the San Diego-based magazine 'West Coaster' (though I live up in San Luis Obispo, CA). 

How did you first get into design + styling? What's your favorite part about it? 

I grew up making all kinds of art - painting, drawing, printmaking, collage, you name it - and then studied Art at UC Santa Barbara. I graduated not really knowing what I wanted to do and not really feeling like an expert Fine Artist in any one field. I spent my school years so hungry to try new mediums that all of a sudden I graduated without ever really settling into a specific area. It took me a couple of years to discover that through design, I could use different mediums, techniques, and aesthetics for each client and get that variety I was attracted to. After another few years of working daily at a desk I discovered I could migrate this aesthetic sense into the "real world" with Styling and Photo Art Direction. That's a more recent adventure for me, and I've had so much fun putting together photoshoots and dreaming up styled scenes, wardrobe ensembles, etc. I've always been very into the curation of my own clothing and the objects around me and their particular arrangements - it's almost surprising that practicing styling wasn't on my radar a decade ago. My favorite parts of my job are the satisfaction that comes from seeing something you once dreamed up come to life, the chance to help others with their businesses and help their dreams come to life, and the variety of working on all these different projects with different people. 


Do you have any creative heroes that you admire & have inspired you? Who & How? 

I was fortunate to have wonderful art teachers that exposed me to so many different types of art and artists. I still think about that Fine Artwork a lot, even if what I do now is more commercial. Sally Mann's photography struck me at my core. I think about the work of Ellsworth Kelly all of the time. I also studied abroad in Paris and was swimming in inspiration from the architecture, the fashion, and the museums. When I was younger I was obsessed with those chunky, raised brushstrokes of Van Gogh but now I'm more fascinated by modern works - I'd love to go back to the Palais de Tokyo and Pompidou. The experience of that education and traveling is priceless; much different than simply gathering inspiration from Pinterest. It's part of the fabric of my identity. 

I don't think my work really looks anything like his, but I just love the work and the philosophies of James Victore. I'm a devoted water of his YouTube advice series Burning Questions. He makes amazing art and has such a healthy mindset. I can stress about the quality of my work, the path of my career,  and he helps put it all in perspective. He's helped me realize that the best thing I can do for my work is to have fun with it. 

I've also been so fortunate to make friends in creative fields that are a bit more experienced than me and that I can always go to for advice and understanding. That camaraderie has been invaluable. Business-wise my mom is my number one resource; she's been running her own business for nearly 30 years. My grandfather was also a successful business owner - that urge to do your own thing seems to run in the family. 

What inspires your designs? Tell us about your process. 

Like I said, my experience in the Fine Art world has been a huge influence on my work creatively. I also love fashion, architecture, food, nature - those are the images constantly swirling around in my brain. I'm extremely sensitive to the images and scenes around me, and I've learned to not just find myself affected by those outside forces, but to absorb them and put them to use. That's a skill I'm constantly working on. 

My process has changed a lot over the past year; I spend much more time taking notes, gathering inspiration, and sketching. Even stepping away from the computer, I now consider an important part of my process. This is related to James Victore's influence too; the desire to make work that's smart and thoughtful requires these steps. I used to stress so much about getting work for my clients done quickly, and making the work I thought they wanted me to, but that wasn't producing work I felt lived up to its potential. Another important part of changing that dynamic was simply the willingness to take risks and not charging by the hour. Maybe that works for some, but I couldn't shake the pressure of the ticking clock. The result of these changes is work that I have much more fun making, and both my clients and I have been excited by. Not saying that every step of every project is 100% smooth-sailing, but the end results have been paying off. 

What is your favorite piece of work you have done and why? 

This is SUCH a tough questions because like I alluded to in regards to my art history and education, I have a bit of a short attention span and tend to move on quickly. Basically, my favorite project is always my most recent one, HA! I feel like my work has evolved at lightening speed the past few years, ever since I charged into doing design full-time on my own....And this makes putting a portfolio together extremely challenging. 

Doing the magazine West Coster is wonderful. Each month I get a chance to improve on what I see as a part of a one grand multi-year project. The founders of the magazine give me an amazing amount of creative freedom - basically any idea is fair game, and luckily my curveballs have gotten positive feedback. Having co-workers and clients with an open mind is something I'm grateful for with every issue. The fact that the publication is an established authority on the San Diego beer scene is pretty cool - so many people are looking at a magazine filled with my layouts, my art, my illustrations every single month is kind of a trip. 

Do you have a dream/goal that you wish to aspire? 

I've mostly been working with small businesses, which I do love because the work is mostly one-on-one with another business owner. I love the intimacy and I relate to them, so I can tackle a project with their point of view in mind. But I'd love to work on larger-scale projects for bigger companies. Especially with photo shoots, I've been mainly bootstrapping it, which does breed creativity and can be fun! I'd love to do a bigger photo shoot with a wardrobe budget, hair & makeup, the possibility of traveling a bit father, etc. 

You've worked for big brands such as GAP, any advice for those starting out wanting to hit up the big time clients? 

With GAP I was actually assisting on the project with a friend of mine, so my advice would be to make friends that are a bit more experienced than you, and then help them. You'll get a perspective that you wouldn't necessarily get on your own and get invaluable experience. I can be a bit of a lone wolf...but finding good people and co-working, collaborating, assisting, etc. with them can open you up to so much more. Make friends, offer to help with projects that excite you, work on personal projects, don't just hole yourself away and work alone 100% of the time even if you are an "Independent _______".


If you could live and work anywhere in the world, where would you go and why? 

I'm really enjoying San Luis Obispo at the moment. When I first moved here, I was feeling pretty isolated, and it took me a while to warm up to the area. But now I'm so grateful to live in this smaller city that's just surrounded by nature. I can walk to multiple trails from my house and hike with my dog. It's about a 10-minute drive to the beach. There's wonderful people here too; I love that I walk into town and run into people I know at the local coffee shop. It's small enough that (at least for me, originally from the Bay Area), it feels like a charming small town. It's close enough for a quick, spontaneous getaway to Big Sur or Santa Barbara. When I do feel like living the big city life, friends in SF or LA are just a few hours drive away. 

Early bird or night owl? 

I'm like a mid-morning and afternoon bird, haha. I like to have a relaxing morning, drinking coffee, and reading a bit. Then I dive into work and I do try to tackle the more challenging things first. Then I take a generous lunch break. Then I'm back to work until evening, then I'll go for a hike. It's a luxurious and flexible schedule that I relish and Im grateful for every single day. 

Thank you so much for sharing Kayla!


You can follow more of Kaylas' creative flair below

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