I’ve had the fortune of knowing Kate Lichtenstein for quite some time now. As an artist, entrepreneur, and positive spirit, Kate has quickly made a name for herself in Michigan’s art community alongside her parents, the owners of Gallery 154. Recently, Kate released her first book, Crystals, Coffee, Nature, a mini coffee table book featuring original photos taken throughout her creative life. Today, Kate answers a few questions about the book, her creative process, and shares advice for young artists looking to make their mark on the world.
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You’ve been an artist for as long as I’ve known you. Can you talk a little bit about your creative journey thus far?
I mean it when I say I am truly lucky to have been an artist for over 23.5 years, which is also the duration of my entire life thus far. I was born an only child to two artistic parents, in Eastown, located in a bigger up-and-coming city full of potential, Grand Rapids, MI. By the time I came into the world in 1992 my mother had already established her sole proprietary business, Gallery 154, [which was] established in 1976. My father was also working in Eastown as a master in the stained-glass trade. With businesses so close in proximity, my parents met and were married, and my father began working at Gallery 154 full-time.
I grew up learning the trade of entrepreneurship in retail, being taught, first hand, art in every medium imaginable, and knowing the sky was not the limit but rather to shoot for the stars. Today, I am an equal owner in the family business and an active artist in a wide array of mediums ranging from photography to drawing, 3D-multi-media to jewelry-making, and proficient identification of Gemstones in Fine Jewelry. 2016 marks the 40th consecutive year of long-standing business, making Gallery 154 the oldest art gallery and unique gift shop in the entire city, an accomplishment I’m proud to carry-on with my parents in the name of the Lichtenstein family, along with the support of my husband.
What’s your creative process like?
My creative process varies greatly depending on what medium I am working in, however, for everything I create, I draw immense inspiration from mother nature, the earth, the universe, and animals. I am inspired on a daily basis by strong themes present in the 1950s-1960s mid-century-modern era, and Instagram. I am an avid vintage camera collector, which inspires me to work with pre-1980s hardware on occasion, sometimes [with] pieces dating back as far as the 1960s. I shoot in many formats of film, my favorite being instamatic (ex: Polaroid), and also digital. A great deal of my handmade jewelry is comprised of natural gemstones, crystals, and minerals. My sewn work frequently manifests itself in the form of plush woodland foxes, and my 3D sculpture work takes the viewer into a whimsical fairy world of recycled materials and fragments taken directly from nature. Photography is my main motivator, even for times when I am planning out a new pencil drawing.
You recently released a book featuring photos you’ve taken over the past few years. What was the editing process like? What inspired you to make the book and what was the most challenging part about creating it?
[Crystals, Coffee, Nature] is a culmination of many years of original photography fitting the theme stated in the title [and] all [of it was] composed, shot, and tediously edited by hand. Each photographic work is marked for the exact date in which the editing was finished, rather than when the work was shot. Honestly, I always knew my photography was something I was doing for the inner joy of my own authentic self, the [photos] built up over the years and part of me began to realize what joy their viewing brought to others. In an effort to spread positivity in this world, I chose to share these photographs.
I began by picking a theme and then [weeded] through my thousands of already finished works, a process many hours long. The majority of the editing processes for the photographs and arrangement of the book itself were all masterfully completed using the iPhone6 Plus. The fact that I could take my work anywhere with me made all the difference in making this idea a reality.
The only challenge I encountered during this project was how many times I re-arranged the layout of the book in order to make each 2-page-spread very intentionally matched, both opposite yet complimentary. I am very pleased with the long hours leading up to the final result.
Where can people purchase a copy?
Crystals, Coffee, Nature is available by direct purchase via [a] PayPal invoice transaction. For inquiries on availability, please send all messages and emails to: katelichtenstein [@] gmail.com.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am working on various small projects in every medium of art. I am constantly making new jewelry to keep up with my sales, and building a larger gem collection. I spend many hours a day working on photographs. I am a planner in life, but I am one of those artists that does not plan out a huge idea when it comes to my art, I just allow it to happen, manifest itself, and from there I further cultivate and shape it into the final result.
What advice do you have for other young artists looking to grow and expand their craft?
The best advice I could give to any human being would be to assure them they possess within them the highest power and capability with which they can achieve literally anything. You are not limited by your current position or your circumstances; you can change any factor in your life you are not completely happy with. I live by the following quote, [which was derived from Michael Brown’s “The First Universal Truth”]:
“There is a fundamental truth that I wish for you to understand—to see that you are the creator of your own reality, that you can do something about the circumstances of your life, and that this is not something to be afraid of. I have so much love for this because of the spark of recognition and joy that I see in a person’s eyes when they realize they are not powerless, they are free.”
You are pure energy and you have endless potential.
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To connect with Kate and to view more of her work, please visit the following places: