Project: Get Known! AWKWARD AFFECTIONS
I enjoy watching artists throughout their careers. Above the actual art though, sometimes it’s who the artists are as a person which cause me to revere them so much. So I’m lucky in the sense that one of my favorite artists is also one of my favorite people in this world. And I have been following this artist my whole life.
Six years younger than me, my sister was included in, and exposed to, anything my brother and I consumed. Ninja Turtles, wrestling, X-Men...she knew (and had crushes on) Gambit, Bruce Wayne, and Macho Man Randy Savage.
She also made a lot of art. It was something else to watch as she moved on from junior to high school to college, her art (and fashion) evolved and grew along with her personality. Yet she somehow has always been the same person.
For all the skills I lack in making comics, I would find one strength in the colorist. I begged her to help me out and annoyed her with my pseudo deadlines. And my comics are the least of her accomplishments.
Get to know - Kaz Palladino!
Mikey P: Thank you for agreeing to this. You had no choice. Plus I know you love talking about yourself.
Kaz: It’s not my favorite thing.
Mikey P: You’ve been creating and making your brand for the last several years now. What were some of the lessons you learned that you would give to someone who is starting out on a similar journey?
Kaz: Jeez, probably that it seems a lot more glamorous than it is, and that you’ll need a large amount of determination (or stubbornness) to keep going. But if you truly love it, the journey and lessons are worth it.
Mikey P: You set out to not only become a working artist, but to start a business based on your work. These are two achievements linked by courage, and being of similar DNA and upbringing, I personally know that courage was tentative and without ego. How do you motivate yourself?
Kaz: It’s not always the easiest thing. It can be difficult to being the only person in chain of command, being the only one responsible for encouragement, motivation, judgement, etc.
Mikey P: Growing up, I felt guilty that I surrounded you in geek culture to the point you probably had no choice but to be consumed by it. Part of me also thinks you would have been drawn to it on your own. What do you think?
Kaz: I've thought about it, and honestly have no idea. I was always drawn to badass female characters, and we were lucky enough to grow up in the 90's where they were in cartoons and sold as action figures. I might have would up with the same interests, but there is really no removing the “younger sister” from me. I don’t mind that.
Mikey P: I think we were also lucky to have grown up in a public schooling system that valued the arts. You continued that art education through college. How much importance do you credit your success on the schooling you received?
Kaz: School is important. All aspects. We were lucky to have a good public school in general. I also think having encouraging brothers who drew with me in free time probably did some influencing.
Mikey P: There’s something inside that propels artists to create, whether it’s personal satisfaction in someone finding joy in your creations, or something personal that needs to come out. What are the fires that burn inside you?
Kaz: Madness? I don’t know if it has a name, but like you said, it is some weird gnawing inside that forces you to pay attention and do something about it. All art is storytelling, and story is how we have developed and learned as a species, from cave paintings to video games. It’s an impulse!
Mikey P: Those instances for when you meet people who aren’t looking at your work, how do you describe it to them?
Kaz: Uhh, because I’m amazing at self promotion and social interaction, I probably shrug and change the subject. But I’ve had friends describe it as “bright, sarcastic and quirky” so I tend to defer to them.
Mikey P: Building an online store presence is difficult, especially for someone as stubborn to social media such as yourself. What vehicles or sites have worked for you?
Kaz: Shows and artist alleys definitely help with engaging your audience and community. It’s kind of like speed dating for art shopping, and much easier to engage with people on an interactive level. I would also say stick with the social media you prefer to use yourself. If you hate twitter, it’ll be crappy engagement if you have to force yourself into it.
Mikey P: Yes, conventions are pertinent as well to what you create. What lessons have you learned in your years on the scene in various Artist Alleys?
Kaz: It is hard to know which shows will be successful because the audience is different for each. Over time, you’ll learn which shows will be worth it. Have low expectations and just be happy to meet the people around you. Especially be nice to your neighbors and other vendors! They are usually pretty cool and you can learn a lot about the industry, other shows, suppliers, etc, together. Keep watch over tables when someone has to pee, Make sure you have a bunch of singles, And be prepared to sometimes forget how to math.
Mikey P: What’s the coolest (or weirdest) thing that has happened to you in the booth?
Kaz: I do a lot of wedding invitation designs online and work closely with couples I never actually meet. I had a custom comic book style invitation and the clients wanted a special Riddler/Poison Ivy thing designed for the cover logo. My first ever comic con was like a year later and the couple visited me at my booth dressed at Riddler and Poison Ivy -- it was so cool to actually meet them face to face!
Mikey P: Often times you hear from other creators who see their work being used somehow without permission or you see an idea you have (i.e. face hugger card) and just redone a different way. Is that just the risk of an independent artist?
Kaz: Yup, and it isn’t always intentional thievery. But when it is, it’s the nastiest feeling. I frequently see colleagues posting about having their work selling elsewhere and having to fight to get it removed. Other times, you just have a similar idea as someone else and there is no knowing if you somehow stole it or vice versa. You can't get mad at the collective unconscious, and there are times I really wish I had come up with an idea, but a good artist will never intentionally steal work.
Mikey P: How do you balance creating something you know will sell vs desires to fulfill a creative hunger?
Kaz: I’ll let you know when I figure that out. As my own boss it is hard to force myself to work on something I am not yet into. I have a list of maps I need to make, but all summer I worked on a personal book project that I know only like 4 people will see. A smart person would make a schedule or something, but when you’re creative, you get this fear or losing the impulse to make a particular thing. It’s chasing the art dragon— a scary obsessive feeling and you don't want to get distracted and lose it. However, contracts take precedence. Work on what pays first, and then work overtime on that impulse.
Mikey P: Speaking of which, what you’ve allowed me to see of your sequential work is spellbinding. There certainly is a vulnerability in putting any artwork out there for the world to see but an entirely new level when it’s work that reflects emotions. You really tap into something very personal with your comic work. Where are you finding strength to really be exposed like that?
Kaz: Well that is part of art, and never easy to get used to. When you work on something personal and put it out into the world, it’s kind of like sending your kids to school the first time. It’s a piece of you that is now on its own and can potentially get picked on, get lost, screw up entirely. But that’s part of the process.
Mikey P: What motivated you to channel experience into your art?
Kaz: I think we all channel experience into art. It’s kind of like “write what you know” and we are always defining our experience, learning about ourselves and trying to teach others through work.
Mikey P: You’re also playing coy in regards to who you’re going to allow to see this once it’s complete. I know you’re drawing from a recent life experience and it’s probably hard to spend hours on these pages. Are you finding it helps you get to a better place mentally?
Kaz: Yeah, it’s good to direct energy into something productive. But there is also a weird feeling of distilling experience into something succinct and tangible that might still not grasp the idea fully.
Mikey P: You have also stunned the family with your writing ability. There are certain elements and themes you incorporate but you never clearly define. Personified characters if you will. The vultures for example in your comic work. How come you like to keep things vague and open to interpretation?
Kaz: I’ve always been interested in how people read things. There are definitely certain motifs that have meaning or allegory, but personally, it’s also important to let the audience respond to art in their own way. We all react with our own feelings behind things. But also, when you know a reference that isn’t handed to you, there is something very satisfying about figuring it out.
Mikey P: You studied and stayed in San Francisco to grow your business. How important is living there to you in terms of a creative mindset since this day in age, virtual studios can be anywhere?
Kaz: I have a love/hate relationship with SF. I never want to leave, but as a freelancer and artist, it makes more sense to live somewhere affordable since I can technically work anywhere. But there is so much personality, inspiration and events and excitement to draw from here, I think it drives a lot of creativity. Other times it’s probably a distraction.
Mikey P: What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received?
Kaz: Is that supposed to be a cat?
Mikey P: What future goals do you set for yourself?
Kaz: Not being eaten alive!
Mikey P: What do you listen to while you work?
Kaz: If I have to concentrate, I stream music. I don’t even know what bands I like sometimes because it’s all on a station shuffle and I’m not looking at the titles. Otherwise podcasts or audiobooks. Oh, you don’t want me to be so vague? You want podcast names? Pod Save America, My Favorite Murder, Lore, stuff you should know, stuff you missed in history class, some psych shit.
Mikey P: What are you doing when you aren’t working?
Kaz: Feeling like I should be working…
But seriously, I am a human being and enjoy spending time with my friends, going to new places, seeing movies, eating foods, reading words.
Mikey P: Any advice to other unknowns out there?
Kaz: Keep your head up! Find a supportive network, Be kind to yourself, Challenge yourself and always keep practicing.
Rapid fire round!
Gambit or Nightcrawler?
DON'T YOU DARE MAKE ME CHOOSE #Gamcrawler
What’s your patroenus?
Marsh Harrier (apparently). It’s a sneaky bird.
Cabin in the woods or cottage at the beach?
Woodsy mountain cabin overlooking the sea.
Top 3 marvel movies
I hate your lists with making me choose things. Logan, Deadpool, X-Men: Night of the Sentinels
Top 3 Harry Potter books vs movies
Shit. Books: goblet of Fire, half blood prince, deathly hallows. Movies: ...
Name 5 people (alive or dead) you would invite to a dream dinner party
Are you just forcing me to answer things I never answer in person?
Who really threw out the vacuum cleaner attachments which we always got blamed for?
No one. We found them in the garage and in a shoebox during the great purge of 2006. But AJ definitely put them there.
Who backed the car out of the garage when it wasn’t fully open?
You did Mike. You did.
Ok, ok I’ve taken up enough of your time.
Visit my sister’s store at www.awkwardaffections.com.
The only social media’ing she’ll stick with is her IG stories @awkwardaffections (hey!)
Look for her booth at the next convention.
And be respectful to her or I will find you and kill you in creative ways.
(Scorpions in boxes!)