We had the good fortune of connecting with Weslee Kate and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Weslee, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
My work life balance as a creative has been a process with a lot of learning curves over time! I truly adore everything I do – so it can be easy to accidentally get enveloped in it. A specific example of a time when I was out of balance was in 2019. I was in school full-time at CSULB, working on getting the second print issue of Baltisoul magazine out, maintaining the Baltisoul blog, learning how to shoot on film, working on branded shoots, and going to a lot of press events. My schedule to maintain everything was crazy and looking back I can’t believe I even pulled it off. The drawbacks though included being incredibly stressed out with so many different deadlines, basically no sleep, and forgetting to eat anything until like midnight regularly. Self-care was something I knew was important but would neglect like it wasn’t. In a way, lockdown was a blessing because it gave me the time to reset what my basic needs actually were! To realize I was playing chicken with burnout when I didn’t need to be. After I graduated in a tiny bedroom in the Bay due to Covid – I started sleeping 8 hours a night, eating three meals a day, stretching, and taking time to just chill out. Speed up to the present day and I think I have found a sustainable work-life balance. Part of that may be taking a small step back from Baltisoul since in late 2019 we lost our Instagram and both Anna (Founder of Baltisoul) and I took time to focus on other things while maintaining the site more as a blog for the meantime. Focusing on just photography and journalism instead of a million different things has allowed me to set aside certain work hours and days. I can maintain the time and space I need to take care of myself and those around me. When all you do is hustle it doesn’t leave time to be a very good friend or partner both of which are priorities for me now. I have found that when I can find that balance my art is better and I feel more satisfaction in it. I have learned that while I am an artist and businesswoman I am also a person who deserves to live life outside of just what I can create. When I am moving from a balanced place it is so easy to find inspiration everywhere and joy in the actual work of it and the creative work. I would say in general there are times where balance isn’t an option and in the short term you really can do anything. Some projects truly require a deep dive of everything you have to offer. However, If you are looking at art as a long-term career and want to avoid burnout; I have found that a balanced approach makes life itself and the actual process of creating art something sustainable and satisfying. If I have been keeping a healthy balance between work + life then when I need to fall deeper into work for a little while it makes it exciting because I have the energy to do so. Even as a kid my dad was always telling me the importance of balance, looking back I think he saw the obsessiveness and ambition brewing in me before I knew it was there. It wasn’t until 2020 that I really understood what he meant.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have bounced between so many different art forms in my life from modeling, acting, writing, creative direction, direction, production, etc, I wanted to do it all! Funnily enough, there was one thing I always swore I would never do – Photography. I remember telling a photographer verbatim in 2018 “I would never do what you do. It seems so hard, y’all all must be a little crazy”! Turns out I would later become one of those crazy people. Originally I started shooting with an Instax polaroid for the interview section of Baltisoul because I didn’t want to ask anyone to shoot for free but also wanted original content. I never thought much would come out of it. However, two things changed the game for me. The first was on my birthday April 12th, 2019 my friend Cole asked me if I could cover part of a shoot for him at Coachella as he accidentally got double booked. I admired Cole as a person and creative – I was honored when he trusted me to fill in for him. He left me with the model and a DSLR, to be honest, I winged it. I was so stoked when the pictures got released and had turned out well. A few months later, I started getting asked to shoot for PR companies outside of Baltisoul – At that point, I was shooting on one of those fuji film disposable cameras. The looks you get when people love your work – but you show up with a plastic camera are priceless. In February of 2020, I finally caved and got a real film camera and decided to take photography seriously. I was so excited when I realized I had found a way to connect with people, make them feel beautiful, and create authentic images. My goal with everything I do is to make the industry a slightly better place with every set I possibly can. I love watching people realize they can trust the process and have fun. It’s so exciting that I can create and form connections with other artists while also creating art. I adore using photography to highlight the things I value through creative concepts or who is in front of my lens. I have been so lucky this year and have gotten to work with literal dream teams, some of my best friends in the world, and artists I admire.
During the lockdown, I couldn’t shoot in person. I ended up with a whole new creative outlet – FaceTime shoots! Shooting remotely is a whole challenge within itself but also very fun and intimate.
I write on and off as a music writer/contributor for LADYGUNN Magazine. Contributing to LADYGUNN has given me such an exciting outlet to highlight LGBTQ+, Black, Female, and other diverse voices within music.
My day-to-day now however is photography-centered – I shoot on Film, FaceTime, and Digital depending on what the project needs and have found it so rewarding to shoot in each medium! I am also currently Early Service’s lead LA photographer which has been a very exciting development over the past few months. The whole team is amazing and I am so grateful to be involved in such an artist-first community.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
So many of my favorite places have recently closed down due to the pandemic but with my knowledge of what is still open and assuming this is post-pandemic here we go!
I would say if you are in Echo Park then Laveta has the best coffee and breakfast in the area! While you are in the area a visit to Stories bookstore and the Echo Park farmers market should also be on your radar!
Otherwise, you can’t go wrong with a day in Malibu, some thrift shopping around town, and an outdoor dinner with friends! I love Gra, Speranza, and sugar fish. A few other wonderful spots in my opinion are the Bourgeois pig and La Colombe in Frog Town by the river!
All of this in a perfect world should be topped off with some kind of live music at a classic venue like hotel cafe or at a random house somewhere!
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?
I honestly don’t even know if I can pick one person who deserves a Shout Out! My entire friend base has been such a pillar of support throughout the years. One person who I feel deserves a special Shout Out is the founder of Baltisoul – Anna Bianca Rose. She is such an important person in my story – without Anna and Baltisoul I don’t know where I would be today. Baltisoul was so important in my discovery process as a creative and businesswoman. Co-owning and running such an amazing outlet with her has been one of the most collaborative and incredible experiences I could have asked for. The level of trust that we had to build to do what we did is something rare. She has always believed in my abilities since day one from writing and creative direction to helping run our team of writers. She was nothing but supportive as I started branching out into shooting the content myself. She has shown herself to be a smart, talented, beautiful, brave, and creative person. Last year she became a mom to the world’s luckiest baby girl. Anna has lived all over the place from Australia, London, Spain, and now she is back in her home country of Germany. Because of this Anna and I didn’t even meet in person until two years of running Baltisoul together over WhatsApp and from different time zones. I am so grateful that we found each other on some random Facebook page back in 2016.
I also have to give a shout-out to Allison Ponthier, Autumn Leppla, Ariana Whibley, Michelle Young, Julia Lucius, and Nick Krause. Some non-artist angels have also been the most amazing friends, muses, and support systems I could have ever dreamed of having.
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