• Artist Editions: India K

    Designed exclusively for Urban Outfitters, Artist Editions is an ongoing series of limited, original designs from some of our favorite new artists.  

    India K is a multidisciplinary artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She takes photos, builds installations and writes words. Scroll on to read more!

    Photos by Heidi Lee
    Can you introduce yourself — tell us more about who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.. 
    I’m a photographer and installation artist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. I was born and raised in San Francisco, California. Both my parents work in music but I was a terrible violinist so I picked up a camera. I didn’t like school and hated tests. I don’t remember finishing a homework assignment. All I wanted to do was draw and take photos. When it came time to go to college, I picked a school that didn’t have grades or core curriculum. I started to just make stuff. Not a whole lot of it manifests in what I make today but it was all important to me. Today I am an interdisciplinary artist working in mostly photo and text based installations. I also have a small apparel line based off of my work. 

    How did you first get into installation art?
    My senior year of college, I went to see a show by Janet Cardiff and George Bures-Miller in New York and I was blown away. I wanted to make things people could stand near and feel like they were inside of it, or that it was affecting their whole experience of the room. I started making the hanging signs because I was interested in the idea of very private sentiments becoming public pieces and changing landscapes with them. I wanted people to feel confronted by the things they read on them. I installed the first 3 I ever made around various popular vistas in San Francisco. Overtime these installations have become smaller scaled but more personal, less public, and I think, stronger sentiments. 
    Tell us more about your Studio! Can you walk us through a typical day in the life?
     I still have a 9 to 5 on top of my craft, so most of the time I’m in my studio, it’s at night. I come home and I like to make tea or have a beer. I sit in my velvet chair while I either write, design future installations, edit photos or test out hanging new signs on the big pink wall that my boyfriend painted for me. I’m also often taking inventory of my apparel line stock or fulfilling orders. Some nights I just write for hours, but usually I find myself doing ten things at once, whether that’s testing a new installation or drawing a new shirt design. 

    What's been inspiring you lately?
    A book of self-portraits by women since 1500, California, my strong female friends, and the Call Me By Your Name soundtrack.  
    How did your style evolve to what it is today?
    What a tricky question! One way that comes to mind is I used to limit myself to what I could or couldn’t make based on what I thought I was “good” at - I think that can be a common thing that anyone who went to an art school or art program might experience. You become specialized and when you receive “training” for something, it makes you think you need training to do anything. But when I gave myself permission to do whatever I wanted, regardless of experience, my craft really changed. 

    What's the most important thing to you when creating a piece of work? What do you hope for people to take away from it? 
    My work is about private feelings made public - whether it’s something I felt or something someone described to me. Vulnerability is a strength I hope my work helps people feel empowered to be forward with their feelings and sentiments. The fact that crying or showing emotion is seen as a weakness or even worse a “feminine” trait is upsetting - as a woman, especially when I was growing up, I felt people asked me to make myself smaller to accommodate societal expectations. Not to be “too much”. I’m an emotional person so that kind of stunted me in a lot ways and I can’t imagine what others in worse positions than me go through. We all need to be way more tender, way more open, and we all need to cry in public more.
    Who are some other artists (in any medium) who you look up to? 
    So many of my contemporaries - Grace Miceli, Victoria Siemer, Bao Ngo, Tuesday Bassen, Maggie Dunlap, Noorann Matties, Akasha Rabut, and Molly Matalon. Even if their work doesn’t always directly inform mine, seeing their work inspires me so much. I also really love Marie Laurencin, Sally Mann, Yayoi Kusama, Sophie Calle and Francesca Woodman. 

    What are some current projects you’re working on?
     I’ll be having my first solo show at a gallery in LA in October, so I’ve been looking back at my work from the last year and curating a body of work. I want to use it as an opportunity to say something different than what I’ve said before. I’m also designing and releasing another round of apparel for my independent apparel line. Coming out any day now! 
    Any advice for others who are looking to begin their own creative endeavor but are unsure how to start? What have been some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?Remember to take care of yourself. We live in a world that values working yourself to exhaustion. Not taking vacation is a victory. Skipping seeing friends to keep working is seen as “winning”. It’s so awful. The world is hard enough already, why sacrifice the few things that make it bearable? Some nights I beat myself up over taking a break. It can feel overwhelmingly necessary to constantly be working. But taking the time to check in with yourself, to do something for your health, mental or physical, is so important. I used to say you couldn’t make your best work if you weren’t your best but I don’t agree with that any more - it’s more like, what are the little things you can do to just get yourself up a notch? When you figure those out, and you find yourself needing one, don’t sacrifice it, not even for your craft. 
    Lastly, what’s a dream project/ collaboration for you? 
    I was just thinking the other day I’d love if Doc Martens had me write and design some phrases for a limited pair of boots. That would be super fun.

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