Did you know Tay Ham cards started out as collages? YAH! In its infancy, Tay Ham was a bouncing bundle of curated images that were lovingly hand-snipped, glued, punned and delivered to family and friends on all sorts of occasions. It’s an art form that runs deep in our brand's bloodline and that can still be found smack dab on the Flipside of every one of our greetings. Today, we're happy to announce that our own sweet graphic design maven, Kathryn Cloniger-Kirk (aka KAT!), can add the title of Bonafide Collager Professionale to her growing list of artistic accoutrements.
Last week Kat debuted a series of digital collages on Society6 - an online gallery where artists can showcase and sell their work. Her creations are both sharp in design and whimsical in content, and explore an array of surrealist landscapes: a humpback whale breaching a sea of poppies, a runaway Ferris Wheel colliding with breaking surf, a sandy path on a fellow terrestrial planet. Each piece playfully examines color, shape and dimension, and emotes her wild, curious, nurturing, sensual, adventurous sense of spirit.
Wild Whale Wood Flower, print, Fred & Mina
Wave Wheel, print, Fred & Mina
Holiday, print, Fred & Mina
Now, thanks to the magic of Society6, any of Kat's designs - under brand moniker Fred & Mina - can be transfigured into a plethora of objects including phone cases, coffee mugs, shower curtains, and classic prints. Possessing any of these items is like owning the very best parts of Kat's soul - like a Horcrux, but used for good. Further proof of this is presented below in a face-to-face interview with the artist herself. Enjoy!
JAY: What are you listening to right now?
KAT: Mandolin Orange. It’s like American Folk, it’s really politically driven. They’re out of Chapel Hill. It’s a guy/girl duo with a mandolin and guitar and a fiddle - they switch off instruments and it’s awesome.
J: What are you watching?
K: I just finished The Fall, Oh and I watched American Gothic - the first season of that. I like murder mysteries. And The Office! Every night before bed.
J: What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
K: I roll over and kiss Carson. (blush.) Something to do with Carson, I don’t know. (More blushing.)
J: Coffee or tea?
K: ULEWK! Neither. Diet Coke!
J: HA! for the record, I was just testing you. Now, cake or pie?
K: Mmm . . . pie.
J: What kind?
K: Apple. Or cheesecake, mmm. No, apple.
J: What’s your dream getaway?
K: Right now I’m really focused on Utah and the Four Corners, but I think if I had to live somewhere, it would be the Philippines - just like really jungle-y, but beach-y, simple, fruit everywhere, and hopefully they have some Wi-Fi so I can work.
J: How did you get into graphic design?
K: I was an Art History major in college and I always wanted to do something creative - I thought I’d work in a gallery or curate or something like that. But then I ended up getting a couple of jobs on some film sets and I thought about getting into the art department somehow. Then I realized a lot of the things held in a frame, or on set - paper or posters - somebody had to design specific. That sounded like something I would like to do. If you’re not the art director, you don’t get to make decisions on what’s there, you just kind of plug-and-play, but if you’re the graphic designer, at least you’re getting to do something creative. So I decided to go to school for graphic design and start my own freelance business and see where it went. It hasn’t gone really far yet, but hopefully it will.
J: Well, you’re on Society6 now, so you’re getting there! Tell me about this new adventure.
K: The prints I create are extensions of what I’m learning to do in graphic design. Like, if I’ve learned something new that’s pertinent to email design here at Tay Ham, I’m like, “Oh, I can do something that I’d like to print out for me.” So that’s how they kind of got started.
J: Why Society6?
K: Because it’s the easiest. You upload your work. They do everything from printing to shipping. They print on mugs, t-shirts, whatever you want.
J: What’s the story behind your graphic design brand name, Fred & Mina?
K: Fred and Mina were my grandparents. I feel like they’re a big part of why I am who I am. My granddad died when I was around five. My grandmother and I were really close, and I love her and I think her name’s cool, and I think the name Fred’s cool. My grandmother’s name was Louise, and she wanted to be called "memaw" or something, and I couldn’t say it, so it was "Mina." My name is also very hard to say, so it’s not translatable if somebody saw it and they were trying to repeat back who I am or what I do. So I knew that I needed to come up with something that was easy to say, easy to remember.
J: What made you start collaging?
K: It’s like when I said I needed a creative outlet when I was working in film. I now have a creative outlet for my clients - they tell me what they want and I get to envision what will look best, but a lot of times I’m at their mercy, so this is completely my own.
J: What’s your favorite thing about graphic design/collaging?
K: I’m a really messy person. Fine lines are not something I’m very good at, which has always been a real struggle for me - to make things look perfect. So, I respond very well to graphic design because it’s not perfect, it’s whatever I really want it to be. My hair’s never going to be perfect, my nails will never be perfect, my eyebrows will always be crazy - and those are just aesthetic things. So I think why I like collaging because it doesn’t have to be perfect. It has its flaws, but they’re looked at as something nice instead of a flaw.
J: What’s your favorite piece? Why?
K: “Rapeseed Jump” is probably my favorite. I really like the look of those old photos - those old National Geographic images. "Rapeseed Jump" has just turned out so perfect to me. It’s just looks so wild - like if flowers were water. I also like taking baths with tons of flowers in there. If an ocean or a river could be any better, it would be covered in flowers. I love those spring days when it rains. I have this crape myrtle tree and I’ll park underneath the tree, because when I come out in the morning, my whole windshield will be covered in the white and pink crape myrtle flowers and it’s like - AHHH! - driving in flowers. It’s so neat, so I like that this piece makes me feel those things.
Rapeseed Jump, print, Fred & Mina
J: Any new projects in the works?
K: I have an idea I’m working on now for something after the election, like a “Death to the United States,” but after listening to Hillary’s concession speech and reflecting on all the negativity that’s out there right now, I want to focus on a more positive piece. You can’t fight darkness with darkness.
Preach, print, Fred & Mina
J: Any advice for the up-and-coming collagers out there?
K: Oh my gosh, it’s so easy! You just have to think of things that make you happy. They don’t need to be sellable. I decided to do [Society6] because I wanted to see what would happen. Start cutting shit out of magazines. Just take images and play around with them. Start playing around with Photoshop. I don’t think I’m super qualified to give advice, but if you want to make collages, make collages! If you want to sing songs, sing songs!
J: Is there a Tay Ham Flipside digital collage you’d like to see happen?
K: A big chunky baby’s butt. That’s what I want.
View and BUY all of Kat's designs HERE