We had the good fortune of connecting with Kris Keys and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kris, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I’m from Memphis Tennessee. I grew up in an all black neighborhood full of music, art, and I fortunately grew up with many of my grandparents still around. My two great grandmothers on my maternal side were very instrumental in my childhood development. They were complete opposites like sugar and spice. You could catch one in the kitchen singing hymns in a floral apron while cooking her famous butter rolls. And you’d find the other one on the porch with lips full of red lipstick, a fierce set of jewelry with a bible on her lap, a can of tobacco by her foot, and a shotgun in her purse. I’d say my personality and my artistic expression is a mix of the two.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My story started out in the mid 80s, when my family discovered that I had a rare blood disorder. I went throughout my childhood with frequent visits to St. Jude Children Research Hospital where my hematologist searched through my lineage to find the origins of this genetic blood disorder. After discovering that my mom, dad, and grandparents were carriers of these elliptical shaped blood cells, I was diagnosed with Hereditary Elliptocytosis. Fortunately, I had great doctors and I had a great quality of life during my childhood. I became interested in art and drawing during hospital visits, using watercolors as a method of relaxation.
I’ve always known that I wanted to be a fashion designer and artist. The pursuit of this dream took me to New York working in merchandising, then to London where I studied Fashion Design and Technology at London College of Fashion. Throughout those years, I worked as a fashion illustrator specializing in watercolor. My career has always included a lot of traveling, and traveling with an illness is very challenging. Through my illness, I’ve found a way to find beauty and healing through art. That has become my brand’s story and life’s purpose.
I now host watercolor painting experiences around the world. In these sessions, I teach attendees how to paint herbal florals using my relaxing method of painting. These are herbs that have helped to heal me and methods of painting that have served as a outlet for easing anxiety throughout my life.
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?
I’d take someone visiting LA to Griffith park for a nice hike, to playa vista beach to chill, to Bloom and Plum cafe for their lavender tea, and I’d for sure take them to Leimert Park for the Sunday market.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’d like to recognize St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital