At the age of just 19, Kristin Prim has done enough to make those many years her senior envious. Her long list of achievements include starting her own print fashion publication Prim Magazine in 2008. The magazine caught on amongst a worldwide fashion set and was recognized for it’s striking art direction and collaborations with key fashion figures including likes of Rad Hourani and Jeremy Scott. Since then she’s gone on to do numerous varied projects from modeling for Nicole Miller to building out her own personal style diary.
Despite being best known in the fashion community, Kristin’s presence has always been about more than pretty clothes. To me the most inspiring thing about her is her commitment to self-expression, beauty and a code of ethics and beliefs that form the DNA of everything she does. It’s this persistence and fierce independence that informs her continued work and directs her career as a into a budding multi-disciplinary artist.
Her recent artwork includes a series called ‘delerium’ where she used a typewriter to write her blunt, unfiltered daily thoughts on 5×7 pieces of white paper. An example states “You can still feel very alone in a crowded room where everyone knows your name”. In another series ‘Shadowplay’, a sequence of black and white photos feature a nude faceless female form surrounded by darkness.
I spoke with Kristin about her past experiences, the process and philosophy behind her work and what continues to push her to create.
Read the interview and see visuals of her work and space after the jump
You seem to have taken a step back from the fashion world. What role does fashion play in your life currently and where do your personal goals have you heading now?
While I originally wanted to, I wouldn’t stay I have completely removed myself from the fashion industry per se; however, I have definitely made my work more cross-disciplinary. I can’t honestly say that I ever loved fashion; I’m just inherently obsessed with aesthetics and beauty. Many of the ethics of the fashion industry, the dogmas and rituals are practices that I have never aligned myself with. Everyone gets this huge ego from being successful in fashion; I always made sure never to succumb to that, especially since it’s an industry purely based on opinion… everything you do is relative. It’s all very trivial. Not to say that this doesn’t occur in the art world either, but if you’re flittering between the two I’ve found that it’s a little easier to tolerate.
I don’t have any clear cut personal goals, I never try to. I have always attempted to stay true to myself as being this creative loose cannon.
You have such a consistency and continuity with your personal brand and aesthetic. What experiences lead you to this?
Definitely. I see the continuity as almost exclusively stemming from deeply personal experiences. I didn’t have an easy childhood by any means, specifically when it came to how my peers treated me, although I never altered my personality or appearance because of it. I have always been incredibly blunt and straightforward – maybe even too much – so my background naturally spilled into the personal branding. I don’t change for clients just as I have never changed for anyone. If you don’t like my work, don’t work with me. If I don’t like your work, I won’t work with you. It’s as simple as that.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve experienced thus far in creating your artwork?
It’s definitely been the fact that some people believe my work stems from some form of self-entitlement. I don’t know how to use a camera and I can’t draw or paint an object in front of me to fucking save my life. But I don’t think you have to know how to do any of that to produce something that borders on disturbingly beautiful, which I will touch on later. Some people have thought this doctrine of mine stems from this self-entitlement where I think that I can get away with anything because I am who I am or since I’ve done what I’ve done. But if they knew me at all they would know I don’t think I am anyone and that I view my work as just an extension of immediate self. I have this very loose interpretation of what art is, what it can be, and what it means. As a result, I try to break down those barriers of intelligible exclusivity in some of my series. While some of my work can get subconsciously conceptual, everyone should be able to enjoy artwork; not just those who “get it.” The art industry and fashion world alike get off on that aspect of “getting it,” meanwhile it does almost no purpose other than to feed their egos. For instance, I typewrite my daily thoughts on these 5 x 7″ pieces of paper for my Delirium series. The statements are terribly blunt and concepts that everyone can both understand and relate to – lust, loneliness, love… but I do these things for universal inclusivity, not to feed my own exclusivity.
You’ve been taking photos for some time now, what is it about the medium that you find continually engaging?
I find the idea of viewing an initial image though a viewfinder and manipulating what you see intoxicating. Since most of my work tends to deal with the human body, gender, and sexuality, it is also the most clear cut and realistically visible way to touch on these topics. It’s endlessly experimental; I try to avoid using the same source lighting, white balance, shutter speed, etc., more than a few times in any given period of time. I admire the work of Joel-Peter Witkin, Tracey Emin, Bianca Casady, Matthew Barney, Rudolf Schwarzkolger, or Gunter Brüs because of that… their ability to successfully create this unmistakable namesake appearance while still leaving room for manipulation. And most importantly, even post-manipulaton, the ability to have an audience still know the piece is theirs because the stylistic potency is so strong.
Delirium Series May 5th, 2013 – present. 5″ x 7″.
Describe your process in creating in different mediums. Do you always start from the same place?
I don’t necessarily have a process other than the fact that I choose to start from a place of absolute emptiness. With every one of my series, I never think about how I want it to appear beforehand. I always start with a blank canvas and simply assault it with paint using my hands, completely unaware of where it will lead me. I want the work to both physically and mentally take me, not vice versa. The way you choose to manipulate it therein all stems from the subconscious. Even when it comes to sitting at my typewriter for Delirium, I want the thoughts to be so genuine that I refuse to wordsmith them ahead of time; I think that’s why they’re so straightforward. I never aim to be veiled by technique or superfluous words; I’m all about rawness… wounds that haven’t healed and I’m not looking to cover.
Your work has such a raw look to it almost as if the imperfections are celebrated. Can you speak on this?
This is actually one of my beliefs that I am so passionate about. I do not believe in artistic training of any kind; you couldn’t pay me enough to sit for a fine art degree. I believe so much in this innate, almost carnal artistic ability that I feel that any training only chases it away. No one can teach you how to become creative; that is something you must find within yourself, and only then is it the most genuine.
For instance, if you give a child a crayon and tell them to draw the person seated next to them, they will go off on this creative tangent, creating something that is most likely far from reality. Creativity is this natural hallucinogenic inside of each individual if you let it run free. But most importantly, they are genuinely happy with their outcome. Quite the contrary, if you give a high school student that same crayon and tell them to draw the person seated next to them, their finished drawing will most likely be proceeded by a plethora of “sorries” for their subpar creation – perhaps even embarrassment.
This isn’t because this wildly creative switch turns off when you turn a certain age, it’s that society’s constructs teach us what is acceptable and what is not. You have to color within the lines, draw hyper-realistically, and use the right tones for the correct objects. If this is true, what makes people believe the same isn’t true for formal artistic training? You can never unlearn what you have already learned, similar to how you cannot consciously forget how to pick up a pen and write.
All of this true, innate creativity is rapidly replaced by these constructs of correctness. Your mind isn’t flowing wildly, it’s barely moving, trapped in a room with no exit for exploration.
I do not believe in formal artistic training unless hyper-reality or photographic correctness is ultimately your goal. In the past six years of my life watching professional photographers, sometimes the most beautiful images were those that were the least technically involved, yet they were seemingly afraid to use them because the shutter speed was slightly off or because they lacked this certain intricate process so that the photo almost felt illegitimate.
Beauty should never be judged on the way it came to be, but instead on its final outcome. This is why I never learned how to properly use a camera, nor do I ever care to.
You’ve made a name of yourself through both blogging online and creating a physical print magazine. How do you choose what elements of yourself and your work to share online, and what to save for physical tangible displays? What do think about the battle between analog and digital that is impacting all creative fields?
That choice doesn’t necessarily exist with me – not because I wouldn’t like it to, but because it simply can’t. I’m such a blunt and open person that to close off any part of myself that I would like to share almost feels as if I’m abandoning it. I go for full inclusion always, which is why my full body of work has this all-inclusive motif.
But analog is always better, though obviously less visible to an international audience. It’s a tradeoff that everyone has to weigh. I would argue with anyone who says that a publication is more beautiful online or a photographic print more engaging on a screen.
What elements of your world view and personality do you want to express in your work?
Censor nothing and be as blunt as physically possible. Destroy taboos and take no prisoners in the process.
You have never been afraid to incorporate sexuality in your work. It’s a topic that is deeply personal to many so could you speak on how it continues to be an important theme through what you do?
Sexuality has always been a huge part of my life and a topic that I was always strangely completely open to speaking about. As I mentioned above, one of the main goals of my work is to deconstruct these taboos that exist in society, particularly those that run deep in American culture. It was always incredibly silly to me that something that is so vital to life – and I definitely don’t mean that in the purely reproductive sense – is so closeted.
What have you read, seen, experienced or heard lately that inspires you to create?
To put it simply, everything. I always attempt to pattern myself as this all-inclusive summation of everything I have ever read, heard, seen, and especially experienced.
What disappoints and inspires you about life in New York?
You can see more of Kristin’s work on her official site.
Photos by Emily Mason