Interview with Katherine Carrion 10/22/2020
Katie Carrion is a San Diego native who studied and earned her Bachelor in Fine Arts degree from San Diego State University. With a goal to help improve the Art Scene in her city in 2015 Katie Co-founded the alternative retail shop, Little Dame, in North Park. With a mission to help support visual artists and entrepreneurs, the female artist helps support artists local and international. As a painter and a Teaching Artist, Katie expresses her love for landscapes, surrealism, exploration of identity and story telling. Katie is a Teaching Artist with Project Paint, an Arts in Corrections program, at Donovan Prison and she has enjoyed continuing to connect with her students from a distance through Covid and Quarantine. Exploring with ceramics, illustration, painting and music she continues to explore and express herself, and uplifts those around her to do the same.
What projects are you currently working on?
With so much time on my hands during Quarantine, I completed three murals and would love to continue that work. I am currently painting a utility box in the running theme I have been enjoying about Cowgirls in landscapes, in North Park. I am currently submitting a painting to the drive-through art show at Mesa College on display from November 9th- December 9th titled, “The World on Fire,” displaying feelings and visuals about the California fires, social justice movement and riots, and the feeling of helplessness. Along with painting and Fine Arts projects, I love to create merchandise to sell in my shop. I just released some sweaters featuring an illustration of a “Support Cat” to help support us all through this past tough year, 2020.
How has this pandemic affected or shifted your practice/changed your projects?
The pandemic did change a lot for me professionally, it shifted the way I was interactive with my students at Donovan Prison. My job teaching art in elementary schools stopped immediately. Although I was sad, I used that time wisely to create and work on my personal Art endeavors as well as focus on keeping my business open. The pandemic and also the social injustices happening in our country made me rethink what I was creating and how it was relevant to this moment. I was thankful for the time to regroup and re-evaluate life and what I am doing with my life, and the extra quality time I have gotten to spend with my Husband and cats. My perseverance has once again been tested as a business owner like it has time and time again, but I am very proud of Little Dame for surviving and I thank the community so much for their support.
What has your journey been like as an artist or creative person?
My journey as an Artist was rocky and scary at first, however, following my heart has kept me on this path. Many Barista and odd jobs helped me pay my rent in my twenties. Early in my career, I interned at the Museum of Photographic Arts, I also worked at the Museum of Contemporary Arts in the gift shop. I had high hopes of getting into the museum industry and working my way up. Sadly, I learned quickly the museum world exploits artists with college degrees and rarely offers them the pay, or opportunities they deserve. It’s all about Small Business now.
I have jumped around practicing my hobbies allowing me to meet so many inspirational people, see this beautiful community of artists here, and lead me down my path. I sang in bands, recorded three albums, self-promoted like crazy, wrote my own melodies and lyrics, which led me to meet my husband. I met my soulmate because I pursued my passions, and we still make music to this day! I helped coordinate the music at Ray at Night for three years, offering local bands the space to perform on a North Park street fair, which was very fun.
I met my former business partner while working in a coffee shop and we collectively came up with the idea of opening a retail space called, Little Dame, that supports visual artists, hosts artist-led workshops, and hosts art shows. In 2019 we opened a small Tattoo boutique in our shop when we expanded, to help create a safe space for female tattoo artists and clients. This is just a continuation of our mission to support visual artists and entrepreneurs. I think Little Dame is my greatest accomplishment above all else. I wanted to see an art space that was welcoming and not elitist like many male-owned shops I had visited. I love what we do at LIttle Dame because we create that validation, income, and encouragement for visual artists to keep pursuing their passions. The best part of my job with Little Dame is that it has kept me in the art world and led me to more opportunities, like becoming a Teaching Artist.
I have been a Teaching Artist for three years, I have had the honor to work with many organizations like: Project Paint, ArtReach San Diego, and Little Artists. I love working with both kids and adults, helping them practice art and express themselves. Working with Project Paint has been such an amazing experience, working with people who have currently incarcerated better themselves and spend their time inside wisely. My students are so talented, In 2018 a few of my students were included in a huge exhibition about rehabilitation at Alcatraz in San Francisco.
Being an Artist is not easy, there have been many years that I was broke. It’s not for everyone, it takes special, patient, and passionate people to keep going.
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives?
The advice I have for artists that are up and coming: your path may not be easy, it will not be a straight path, but you have to just keep going and you will find your way. You can’t be an artist and be afraid of shameless self-promotion in this technological world. No one is going to do it for you, promote yourself. Be humble, sometimes you will work for free at first, sometimes you will feel like quitting. Sometimes you might have to take jobs to pay the bills, that’s okay, you have to try to be confident and believe in yourself.
You can find Katie on instagram: @katieartworkssss