Morning Wake Up Call: Kayten Schmidt.

Kayten Schmidt is a Los Angeles based artist and creative consultant. She lives and works in Silver Lake, CA.

Q / Hi Kayten! How do you usually start your day?
A / Coffee. After I’ve laid in bed to “just think about things” for a few minutes too long. Bad habit. Stretching (with coffee nearby) I also find it calming to look at a beautiful book or magazine before I’ve made any decisions for the day.

Q / Do you have a daily uniform?
A / No, not really. My wardrobe isn’t super varied though, it’s a lot of the same thing. I generally have an idea of what I want to wear each day and it is different. Sometimes I have no idea. Lots of white shirts.

Q / Is there anything you carry with you every day?
A / A notebook/planner. I just like to have it on me.

Q / Is there a time of day that you feel most productive?
A / I love from 7am to 11am each day. Clear coffee brain, optimism is usually high.

Q / What is your favorite place to work?
A / I like various places and need to change it up from time to time. A coffee shop, a friends house, mostly home.

Q / How do you try to balance your time?
A / I’m pretty bad at it…I’m learning. I’m also learning that I need a lot of time to do things. My pace is slow, and I often feel rushed. Balance, for me, is being in control of my time, and I work toward that.

Q / Do you find lists helpful? How do you keep yourself organized with all the projects you have going on?
A / Lists are helpful, mostly because if I feel overwhelmed, it feels good to write things down. I don’t rely on them though, I think I’ve only truly forgotten a handful of things ever.

Q / What is something you are good at? Something you struggle with?
A / I’m good at working with imagery and conceptualizing ideas. I struggle with over thinking and talking myself out of things.

Q / What do you enjoy most about your career? What are the most challenging things about it?
A / I enjoy being able to pull things off. To me creative endeavors feel like schemes, and it’s satisfying to pull off a scheme. A challenge that happens to me is being so fried at the end of a day that I get a little lost. Weepy like a child past bedtime…

Q / Is there anything you will never take seriously in terms of your work?
A / I don’t take much seriously.

Q / Something that’s very important to you?
A / A certain kind of femininity. I feel like everything I do comes from a place of intellect, self acceptance, sexiness. Refinement is something I’m always striving for.

Q / Where do you go to be quiet and think?
A / The shower.

Q / How would you say your home influences the kind and quality of work you produce?
A / I love my home and I feel like it’s become the hub for everything, very recently. I’m less precious about its meticulous decor and now lay out clothing or reference images for days across the sofa.  And the view isn’t bad.


Q / Where did you grow up and what led you to your current home. How would you say these places shaped your perception of work?
A / I grew up in the suburbs, midwest, close enough to get to Chicago in an hour but far enough away to feel completely out of touch. I was obsessed with television and fashion magazines growing up. I had subscriptions to every magazine that I could find and I had them catalogued. I was just talking to a friend about how much I watched the fashion channel on my parents massive cable plan, Behind the Velvet Ropes and all the runway shows I could catch. This was also when Bravo used to show plays and operas and IFC played weird films that I could’t get enough of. I always knew the suburbs were not for me, and neither was the cold so that is how I chose Los Angeles. I’m so deeply in love with LA, it’s nice that it’s having a moment now, but I’ll love it even when it’s passé.

Q / What is your first memory of work? Of success? Of failure?
A / The first sculpture class I ever took. I was terrified of the teacher, he was a recent Yale graduate and so intimidating. I made some terrible work that I didn’t hate just because I was impressed I could do it. I also remember doing and very intricate pencil drawing of Fiona Apple in high school that was under appreciated by my teacher and peers. I still have it.

Q / Do you keep any collections? If so, how do they influence you creatively?
A / I am definitely an acquirer, by nature, but no real collections to speak of.

Q / How would you define beauty and what part does it play in your work?
A / I would define beauty as refined, classic, clever….. effortless but with an underlying effort, haha. Substance. I think I have a pretty narrow scope of what I think is beautiful, but not in the typical fashion way. It plays the largest role in my work. I think that something can be beautiful and that can be enough. I wish everything were beautiful and considered, car interiors, supermarkets, gas stations, blockbuster movies…. these are all areas that could use improvement.

Q / How does social media factor into your work and life?
A / I love it. I love Instagram. I love that it allows people to communicate through visuals. I’ve made a lot of friends, people I’ve grown to love, through Instagram. I read a lot of articles because of Twitter. I’m not one of those people who tries to use it less. Social media is the easiest way to connect right now, but I think we’ll collectively slow down with it and go back to reading books and writing emails. Maybe letters.

Q / Do you use the internet on vacation or do you prefer to completely disconnect?
A / I use it. I don’t like feeling disconnected. I will stop responding to people or posting anything, but I still need Google when I can’t remember a song title or randomly want to know what month Carolyn Bessette died. I’m addicted to Wikipedia.

Q / Is there anything in particular that you do to take care of yourself and relax?
A / Pilates, stretching and lots of sleep. So much sleep. And Netflix.

Q / Was there any particular person who helped shape your career in formative way?
A / Hmmmm, I think everyone I encounter helps shape things a bit. I would love a mentor. I’ve never had one, only because I’ve never found one. Putting that out in the universe.

Q / What’s the worst job you’ve ever had? The funniest?
A / This covers both – one summer, when I was 15 or 16 I worked at a Renaissance Faire. I was not the most pleasant of the corseted ladies.  I will say there is a LOT of money in Renaissance Faires for a teenager.

Q / In what capacity do you work with other people? Would you say your career is more solitary or collaborative?
A / I think there is an underlying solitary drive, but I work with people more often than not. In the rare instance I vibe with someone creatively they become intertwined in it all, and it’s a good motivator for me. It also makes it easier to filter ideas, like I’ll do this with this person, and use these ideas here, but then another idea is better suited to do alone. When I’m all alone the list of ideas can be overwhelming.

Q / What is the most fulfilling part of your job?
A / Learning to do something new and knowing you can do it again.

Q / How does your work affect the rest of your life?
A / I don’t really consider it as an optional part of my life, so it kind of takes over.

Q / What has been your proudest career moment thus far?
A / I can’t quite think of one. I don’t think I’m particularly comfortable with that feeling. Proud is weird for me. Ask me in ten years.

Q / What are you looking forward to this year
A / A lot of things floating around, I’m working on a photo book. I’m learning to sing. My best friend is taking me to Paris for my birthday.

Q / Lastly, ten of your favorite people, places, and things that we should discover too?
A / I’m not really that good at keeping up with cool things specifically so I’ll just give you some general things I’ve been interested in lately:
-Dry brushing your skin (Thanks, Daphne)
-Getting your eyebrows tinted, life changing
-Cauliflower any way – so delicious
-British television
-Ralph Gibson
-Turmeric lattes
-Cotton underwear, high cut and/or high waist
-Watermelon juice

Interview & Photography
Catherine Litke

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