Katie Green: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Using her talent to start a powerful conversation about nature, one of Calgary-based artist Katie Green’s most notable projects of late involved heading north – way north – into the Yukon. During this trip, she and five other artists paddled the The Peel Watershed to raise awareness about one of the most pristine places on earth…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I am a visual artist whose practice addresses nature as a crossroad for developing concepts of growth, death, adaptation, cooperation, and perhaps most importantly, our emotional and physical selves. For me, nature is a space worth questioning and I do this through the art I create.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
As an artist, my work, career, and life are completely intertwined. It is no nine to five. The work is constantly happening 24 hours a day. How did I start being an artist? I think that boiled down to accepting a belief that I was already an artist capable of creation, and then choosing to act on it. Creating is such an emotional practice. Every piece I create is saturated with sentiment; it is a part of who I am. I have learnt more about myself than I could have ever imagined (and continue to do so).

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of what I get to do on a day-to-day basis is that I simply get the freedom to choose. There is no typical day as an artist, everyday is different, which can be extremely exciting and of course, challenging. I am my own motivator and I have to remain determined. I have to put in the work everyday to make sure that I am moving forward, finding the balance between creative work and the simple work of life. But there is a big difference between production and the contemplative process that precedes it, both of which are valuable. Sometimes I get caught up in the idea that to be successful, I have to produce something to share with the world. I have to remind myself of the process, and that slowing down is only going to help me work towards what I produce. Going for a walk, reading a book, making a sketch that I hate – these are all things that help me move towards success and contentment.

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
Just recently I could finally find the time to watch a movie after two months straight of intensive studio work. A scary scene caused me to jump and my neck clenched into a muscular spasm, causing a week of mummified sleeps, ice packs, hot packs and Advil. I think that is a clear sign I need to slow down and take the time to nourish and rest myself!

Where do you see yourself in five years?
I always find this a hard question, not because I don’t have an idea of where I would like to be in five years, but because I get overwhelmed at the possibilities. And I really believe all of them can come true. I see myself traveling with my artistic practice, working within communities on small and large-scale projects, whether that is through workshops or collaboration with other artists. I see myself painting more mural work, both in Calgary and around the world in Europe, South America or Asia. I see myself being able to run away into the woods to be in solitude, away from Internet, people, and technology, even to create. I see a potential of continuing my formal education and getting my masters, though certainly the education gained by living life and always pushing myself is ongoing and constant. I always want to be a student, I always want to be learning, and I want to be a teacher too.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
Thinking I am not good enough. I think all humans have this thought at one time or another (or multiple times) throughout their life, but its one of the hardest challenges because it seeps so deeply into your being. Do I have what it takes? Can I do this? Am I talented? Is this idea worth anything? Will anyone understand? Do I even understand? And while the questions continue in this fashion they are what make everything worth it. I often have to remind myself that I am who I am because I ask myself these questions. I am willing to look at the darkness and find refuge in it. This is something that has taken a lot of work and I am very proud of that.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
Money = Convenience, but does not equal happiness, perhaps its more of a façade of happiness – I’ve found that with money comes greed and ego. Success has to come from the heart. I sometimes catch myself chasing after a dollar figure and simultaneously running farther and farther from my creative purpose. Success is allowing yourself to know that you’re making a difference. There is a fleeting moment when you know that you’re on the right path, when you’re creating something and every cell in your body resonates with contentment and satisfaction – that is the happiness I strive for. No matter how quickly the clutter or the rush comes flooding back in afterwards that brief moment is in itself the biggest success.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Travelling to Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka last year. Facing many challenges with this solitary trip, it was also one of the first times I merged travel and my artistic practice. During this trip I painted a total of five large murals, both independently and in collaboration with a number of collectives, non-profit organizations and communities. It was a pivotal moment of growth for both my personal and professional self.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Keep moving forward and remain open to anything and everything. Say yes. Do something for your career every day and allow yourself to be permissive about what that means. Always be able to be a student.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
Hotpot meals at my good friend Jordan’s. Nothing else seamlessly combines the decadence of a good feast with the comfort of home!

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
Resting, taking a bath at one in the afternoon, watching a movie, leaving the city, cuddling; just simple, grounding pleasures like that.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
I have done quite a bit of traveling since I graduated high school: Australia, Bali, South East Asia, Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka. If I ever have some money and time, I am usually away somewhere. Whenever I am asked where I loved travelling the most, I always describe it as the place that “doesn’t care if I am there or not.” I don’t mean this to signal ambivalence, far from it in fact – I mean that “place” where your presence doesn’t change the its inherent rhythm. I have travelled to many places where my experience was dominated by my role as the ‘tourist’. I enjoy the places the most where I can be the observer, consumed by the culture of the place.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Are You Leaving for the Country – Karen Dalton.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I’d be a dancer.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
During my travels to Nepal and India, many of the projects I was working on were with charitable organizations where I contributed my work as a volunteer. I also raised some funds before leaving, in which a portion went towards an orphanage in Nepal and the company I painted a mural for, Sattya Collective.

What to you is notable?
A supportive network that brings creative and engaged minds together.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
Apple lover.


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