We had the good fortune of connecting with Ken Christianson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Ken, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
The value that matters most to me is quality. We should strive to have a “no regrets” attitude toward our work. The pieces I’ve written or projects I’ve created that I’m least thrilled about are usually the ones where I’ve cut a corner here or there. This can be seductive for artists early in their careers, since emphasis is usually placed on quantity over quality. I believe it’s important to always create the best work possible, no matter the client or job. Clearly, loving what you do makes this so much easier, so the first step is really answering fundamental questions about why or what you’re creating in the first place. The ubiquitous term “content”, as well as hustle culture, has not done the creative world any favors. “Content” and “hustle” are money-driven concepts that have little to do with quality.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have a background in music and art. Lots of people have multiple interests, but few make their living equally off more than one career path. And there’s a reason for that: it’s a lot easier to specialize in the modern world. It’s a lot easier to market yourself as the “go-to” person for something. Personal style obviously plays a role in this as well. The biggest challenge for me has been my greatest skill: that I’m able to wear a wide range of creative hats. At some point, most artists who have multiple interests end up choosing one based simply on the amount of time they have to dedicate to honing their craft. This makes sense, to a degree. However, I’ve never been able to choose between music and art, and so now, I do both, and sometimes, when I’m fortunate, both within the same project. Choosing multiple career paths at once is not the best or easiest way to make heaps of money, however. It’s not a stretch to say that most professional artists are driven by the dollar. The most common statement I hear when I’ve created a unique, one-off piece for a client is: “Damn! You could make so much $$$ if you just did this all the time.” It baffles me that this is the first thing that comes to mind for most people. In my mind I’ve already moved on to the next project, thinking about the next new challenge.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
A place I am a member and visit a few times a month is the Huntington Gardens. It is a place you can go to meditate or to be creatively inspired. This is a must. There are few restaurants I would absolutely have to take my friend. For more upscale: Majordomo, n/naka, Mh Zh in Silverlake; middle of the road: Joy in Highland Park, Noshi Sushi in Hollywood, Spoke in Frogtown; and for budget eats: Birrieria El Guero in Huntington Park. You will not find better birria tacos anywhere in Los Angeles. I think the Planetarium at the Observatory at Griffith Park is also a must. The show entitled Centered in the Universe is a delight. I may also take my friend on a tour of the various museums Los Angeles has to offer: LACMA, MOCA, the Hammer, the Broad, The Petersen Automotive Museum, The Natural History Museum, both Getty museums. One night we may do a drive tour of various food truck vendors, starting in East Los Angeles, and making our way to the ocean, ending in Santa Monica.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife, Dominique Generaux, is an artist, writer and actor, as well as mother of our daughter, Joni. She has always supported me as an artist and is, in a way, my manager and secretary. We have a matching sense of style and approach to life, so discussions about art and creating are always interesting and easy. Our artistic skills overlap ever so slightly, which also helps. As someone who has a hard time saying no to potential clients/projects, she has been a life-saver. She can tell when I’ve taken on too many projects and is constantly checking-in. Everyone needs a partner like her.