We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Chrishanthi Shipley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie Chrishanthi, how do you think about risk?
Risk seems apparent in every aspect of being a freelance creative. Amongst other more obvious things, it is sanity that hangs in the balance most often. Aside from seeking out projects, the risk of making my most innate activity, my job, has so far been the riskiest risk! I love that I am paid to be creative. In some applications, my creativity is sharply focused on sourcing multiple options of the perfect whiskey tumbler, that will sit on the perfect coffee table that conveys as much as possible about its owner, and perhaps catch the frame for a split nanosecond. In others, my creative freedom is greater, and I am painting a warehouse hot pink. As easy as it is to imagine a career without such a large amount of uncertainty, I wouldn’t give up the endless variety, and the opportunity to work with and learn from such a mixture of inspiring and talented people.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have overcome challenges by allowing myself to recognize what it would mean not to address them. When I was first assisting in the art department, I was told that the work “wasn’t an art project” and the work environment “not for women”, but was also propositioned to show up for work in what would be very inappropriate and uncomfortable attire….. yes, just underwear. My most common mistake is not advocating for myself in the process of making things happen. I am learning to do this in my own way, and it would appear that remaining in the workplace, in whatever I choose to wear and treating everything like an art project, is all part of the process.
The things I am most proud of, are my public art pieces which aim to instill some positivity in even the grumpiest person’s day, as well as opportunities to work on projects for organizations making a positive impact on the world, such as PETA, World Wildlife Fund and Safe Parking LA.
Some of the most fun parts of my job have been working with baby animals, making fake food, designing miniature Christmas scenes, standing in for the talent (usually the under 16s, but sometimes the heavy hitters, like Christina Aguilera) handing pens to 100 A list celebrities so they could sign a wall and playing the “hands” in a Sia music video.
Overall, I am funneling all of my experiences into a desire to create levity and peace for myself, which translates to others through the finished product. Be it a painting on a public wall, a greeting card or print, or that little detail you liked in a commercial.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
When my family visit me, we spend the first day overcoming some jet lag and catching up. The longer I have been here, the better a guide I can be. I would no longer point at Brentwood, from the Griffith Observatory, and tell my mum “and that’s downtown LA”. So our week would now consist of trips to the arts district, lots of hikes, LACMA, the observatory always and the rocky beaches in San Pedro. Food and refreshments from the Juice Parlor, Nuda, Leonor’s Vegetarian Mexican, Lotus Vegan, Flavor of India to name a few! We would then take a relaxing class at Makers Mess!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout is dedicated to Mary, Sunder, Lucy and Daisy, otherwise known as my mum, dad and sisters, who live across the pond. That is the absolute hardest part of being in LA. Moving away from them is the actual biggest risk I have taken. We spend a lot of time on FaceTime, maintaining a healthy amount of straight talking and fun making to ensure no one falls out of line. They have coached me through many many things from afar, and I simply wouldn’t be, without them. I have also been beyond lucky to find people I consider family on this side of the pond, who inspire and keep me ticking.
Danit Sigler Drew Hughes