We had the good fortune of connecting with Kari Breitigam and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kari, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I guess my decision to keep going rests in three questions – do I have passion for what I am doing? do I believe in myself and my work? and do I get satisfaction from doing the work? If the answer to all three of these is yes, then I know I should keep going. It can be difficult to keep at it when it feels like the work isn’t getting the attention, financial payoff, or whatever it is you’d ideally like to see result from the work. But I don’t think a lack of results is reason enough to give up on something you love to do. You may need to re-strategize – keep a day job for the time being, take some classes to hone your craft, do your market research, figure out supplemental income, etc. – but as long as the passion is there you keep going. I think that’s the only way to live a fulfilling life. You have to pursue your passions and follow where they lead. If I lose the passion for something and no longer get satisfaction from doing it, I know it’s time to decrease my investment of time and energy into that thing to make room for what I truly enjoy. This isn’t always easy due to a sense of obligation or whatever it may be, but I really believe we have to put ourselves first, and it isn’t selfish to do so.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My current jewelry collection includes both formed rope and hammered metal pieces, mostly earrings. I’m attracted to bold, simple shapes. In the past, most of my jewelry and artwork were fiber-based, but recently that has changed. As a jeweler I am self-taught (thanks, YouTube), but I have a master’s degree in painting. After several years focusing my visual art on fiber arts – latch hook, embroidery, and appliqué – I’ve finally returned to painting. The paintings are largely abstract, usually based off photographic sources of florals or still life. Large, simple forms and restrained color palettes are characteristic of both the paintings and jewelry. The largest challenge I continually face in my endeavors is time management. I currently juggle the roles of an art professor, jewelry designer, fine artist, and business owner. This means that managing and balancing my time can be a bit of a struggle, but learning to prioritize based on interest rather than obligation and mastering the art of saying “no” has helped keep me sane. The biggest lesson I’ve learned through this journey is that you can teach yourself anything – new skills and techniques, business and marketing, social media strategies, and so on. The internet is magical, and we are unbelievably lucky to live in an age where information is so easily accessible.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Most of my friends are artists, so we would have an extremely art-filled itinerary. One day would have to be devoted to the MFAH and the CAMH. Maybe if the weather was nice we could grab some food at the MFA café and eat out in the sculpture garden. Another day would be reserved for the Menil Collection along with the Rothko Chapel and Cy Twombly Gallery (my absolute favorite place in Houston). And the Asia Society Texas Center would have to fit in there somewhere. To break up the intense museum-ing, we’d do an afternoon/evening trip to Galveston, preferably during ArtWalk. And we’d have to visit NASA and take the Apollo Mission Control tour. It would be great to wrap up the trip with an Astros game at Minute Maid – get there early so that we can eat the maximum amount of hot dogs and pork burnt end topped tots. Of course, this is all assuming that Covid is nonexistent, because right now I wouldn’t be doing any of this
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to give credit to my boyfriend. He’s not an artist and sometimes doesn’t understand the strange hours and frustration that come with creative work, but he tries so hard to be supportive. He’s always looking to help, whether that’s assisting with product photography, sitting my booth at markets, or having dinner ready when I get home from a long day in the studio. It just makes it so much easier when you have a partner who believes in you and wants to help you succeed.