We had the good fortune of connecting with Kerstin Hovland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kerstin, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
My partner and I had been freelancing for a few years. When I graduated with my MFA I was having absolutely no luck applying for existing jobs and none of the jobs were quite what I wanted to be doing in the industry anyway. I figured if I wanted to be hired to do my job, I would need to hire myself. We decided it would be nice to have a container of sorts to put all the freelance work into and to start building on what we were already doing and make something potentially larger that could employ more people and do larger projects. We didn’t have much in the way of a business plan except “grow slowly, be impeccable with our word and work, and be of service to everyone we could.” It was a fairly simple process to file the paperwork to start our business and there was a lot that we knew we were going to have to learn on the fly as it came up. We decided that potential mistakes, even ones that cost money, are still a better investment than trying to learn the business of business before actually doing the work we wanted to be doing. Overall, that has proven to be true and we’ve managed to be profitable and support ourselves and hire people for animation every year since we began.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I call myself a post-disciplinary artist mostly because the medium and the discipline of my work is incredibly hard to pin down from day to day. It is usually time-based, often in service of or in itself performative, and includes light, sound, something physical, and some core process or aesthetic that tends to change with what I’m interested in. The work often fits most comfortably into installation art or site-specific art.
I like to say it is both easier than I expected and harder than I expected, and it oscillates at wildly variable frequencies. Describing what I do is often harder than doing it. The system that creates the work is part of the work, the technology is embedded in the process, and the human hand and mind adds the unpredictability, the “liveness” of what is eventually created.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The LA River at Glendale Narrows Little Tokyo
The Museum of Jurassic Technology
The Arroyo Seco Park Trail
… The list goes on. Depending on the person there’s always something here that is the perfect example of what can’t be found just the same way anywhere else.
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 goes to so many people. Everyone I’ve worked with has been instrumental in me learning and loving the job I do. Even when the going is rough, I get through it *for* the people I work with. Specifically I want to thank my first mentors, Bob Bonniol and Butch Allen, brilliant designers and fantastic people who brought me into the industry for my first jobs and demonstrated through everyday action how to embody the kind of person I wanted to be in the industry. I often comment that they socialized our studio like a new puppy. We wouldn’t be where we were today without their guidance and example.