We had the good fortune of connecting with Allison Kunath and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Allison, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
In the first few years of my business, there was very little distinction between working and not working. I thought that I had a pretty healthy balance, since I managed to maintain a rich social life, and travel a lot. But in reality, I was quite literally always working. I was constantly tethered to my inbox with my phone glued to my hand. And even though I spent time all over the world, I went years without a proper vacation. I actually remember that I used to shock my girlfriends with my ability to covertly snap, edit, and post something to Instagram in the middle of dinner. I took a lot of pride in the amount of energy I was giving my business but it became clear that a little compartmentalization would benefit both my business and my mental health. I used to run myself ragged out of fear that inertia would permanently grind me to a half if I took a real break. Now I think of myself as the battery that powers my business. I know that it’s impossible to stay powered on all the time. I’ve got to take time to re-charge so I can continue to produce sustainably. Of course certain moments require a big push of prolonged work – that just means that I’ll need some proper down time to rest and charge up again. And instead of constantly attempting to multitask business and social, I make clear delineations between ‘on’ and ‘off’ hours and do my best to not blur the lines. Over time I’ve learned that I need so much more rest than I gave myself in the beginning. I’ve learned to really appreciate the down time as an equally important part of my creative process – which has helped me get rid of the fears I used to carry about slowing down.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I’ve been using my work as part of my self development practice since I was in high school. Back then, I was painting self portraits and writing poetry that served as a basic entry point to my relationship with self reflection. My work has become more and more abstract over the years, but the process continues to be a valuable, meditative tool that I use to understand myself, and my relationships better. I’m especially grateful that I’ve been able to design experiences that have helped me advance my career, and my personal evolution / healing simultaneously. For instance, much of my best work was created during self-made residencies in Central America. In lieu of the traditional residency experience, I sourced opportunities to be fully supported while living and working in inspiring locations. In return, I would leave behind something from the body of work that I had created during my stay. It has always been a beautifully symbiotic exchange that often enables me to access a completely new creative vocabulary, and connect to a way of life that is truly nourishing to all parts of my being. I think these homemade residencies are a good example of how I’ve managed to carve my own path, finding ways to create new openings if certain pre-existing doors weren’t opening for me.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
For me, it’s all about the places outside the city that LA gives you easy access to. My first move with visiting guests is always a trip up the PCH for a surf.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’ve recently been blessed with a rather unlikely new mentor and friend. In the summer of 2018 I moved to the Joshua Tree desert to renovate a home and studio that I found in Landers. I inherited a jack of all trades handyman named Michael. The previous owner of the property was a sculptor and she made a point of telling me that not only was Michael a great craftsman, but he also happened to be a classically trained artist. Over the years we worked on many projects together, and developed a friendship that ended up revolving around our shared experiences as artists. He’s got more knowledge and insight than most of my professors, and has helped me with really valuable advice when I needed another perspective. He consistently inspires and challenges me, and I love getting schooled by somebody who’s covered in drywall mud, looking completely unassuming.
Corey McLean, Allison Kunath