FlyPaper Recognizes Women’s History With WCW:
Who is Kara Young?
I’m a full-time artist. I was born and raised in Columbus, OH and I’m 22 years old.
As much as I love to create, it’s not all there is to me.
The question I always asked myself was –‘If I didn’t have this computer, a camera, or even hands, what would I be?’
I’m pretty spiritual. I enjoy helping people. I also really enjoy talking to people about the world we live in or…—I have to think before I say everything; I can’t just talk, which is weird. I enjoy talking about life and being here on earth and why we’re here. It’s pretty interesting to me. Art is a form of communication for me, but purpose is primary.
I definitely believe in God and the way I see it, everyone is here for a moment. My greatest concern is being a great person while I’m here. So, pretty much I sat back and thought ‘nothing really matters.’ because I was making art one day and was like ‘this really doesn’t matter.’ Art can be a tool to get you places that you’ve never been. Whether it be traveling, exposing yourself to different audiences, a mental state of happiness, wealth, etc.
What made you say ‘I have a talent; this is what I want to do with my life’?
My dad can draw, and was always on the computer building websites or editing in Photoshop, my mom can draw, and my granddad could draw. I was around a bunch of talent but my house wasn’t very art filled. So I’m guessing I subconsciously picked up talent from them.
I didn’t even consider myself an artist until I hit about 18. I was like ‘ok, I guess I’m an artist.’ I wasn’t a traditional artist in the way people use the term. [When] people think of artists, they think of paintbrushes and canvas. I didn’t think I fit in that category.
Recently, actually, when I released ‘Venus’, that was when I was just putting stuff out and started noticing everything around me changing. People started reacting to my work a certain way and I just started getting unexpected love everywhere. From doing something I’ve been doing for more than half of my life and sharing it on the popular platform at the time, to seeing people sharing, complimenting my work by saying ‘this is nice,’ or putting it as their background—requesting certain images to hang in their house and shops. That’s when I was like ok, this might be serious now.
People know who you are. That’s huge, especially as a woman and a woman of color at that. Can you talk a little bit about what it’s like being a woman in this industry?
I really didn’t know [that she was “poppin”]. I still really don’t see it too much lol, but I’m really just creating and putting it out. I’m pretty introverted so too many outside interactions can be draining. I go out when I can or when I want to so when people recognize me or come up to me and compliment me in public it’s amazing.
I do a lot of work with rappers, so when I make cover art, especially back in middle school, they always wanted the same look that was popular at the time (cars, money, chains, etc.). And I was like I’m not really into that. So I would always bring abstract and different ideas.
So you changed the game for them. Like ‘I know y’all like this kind of stuff but let me show you something else.’
Yea, I try to meet them in the middle because at that time, the gucci mane era, rappers wanted video vixens on their cover. And it was nothing against that, but it just kind of felt weird. It just didn’t feel creative to me.
So what was that like, working with those men? What was that like being this little middle school girl saying ‘hey you might want to go this way, or you may can do something different’?
It was pretty much a ‘take it or leave it’ type of thing. It’s like if you want that, you go over there. If you want to do something different, we can– even now it’s a struggle. A lot of people aren’t as open; a lot of people don’t understand the vision. And I kind of feel boxed in a lot from a lot of rappers sometimes. But I’m trying; it’s a slow tug lol. But there are a lot of male rappers who do have and appreciate creative artwork. I like artworks of Kendrick Lamar, a lot of underground artists, ASAP Rocky, and – who else… Kanye West of course. Just people that put a little bit of creative thought into it.
So you talked about women being inspired by your work and things like that. You have these feminine themes. Why do you think that your work– what you’re doing, what you bring to the table– is important to your community, whether that’s just for women or African-Americans, or just other artists who look like you in this industry?
For women, of course, inspire them to bring out whatever their gift is, whatever their energy is… However they use it and for everyone to stop putting women down, even though I said I mostly focus on positive work or positivity in life.
I don’t even like when people compliment me by putting someone beneath me. That’s not really cool to put down other women, that’s not really a compliment to me.
My work shows that I am a feminist. Feminism gets really messed up these days because of the Internet. I don’t know what it turned into but the point blank definition of feminism is: the belief that women are and should be treated as potential intellectual equals and social equals to men. That’s it. How can I be a woman and not want that for us?
I don’t really go around saying ‘I’m a feminist,’ but I just show people that I can keep up with any guy. I really feel like, and I don’t want to sound any sort of like ‘cocky’ or anything, but I feel like—I just feel like I can do anything. I don’t want to do everything but I do feel like I can do pretty much anything I want to do. With the right tools and the right passion I can.
There have been moments that I’ve looked around and am like ‘ok, I’m the only women in this circle right here.’ I do know some woman artists and curators but I don’t personally know too many graphic artists. Sometimes it gets kind of lonely cause there are a lot of guys and it’s like I can’t really relate to a lot of things. That might be a reason I stay back a little bit. In general, I’m just a recluse. I value my alone time because that helps me think, to create, to kind of reflect and to make sense of what’s going on.
What is the hardest part about being in your position?
In the beginning, people that I worked with didn’t really know too much about me so that natural respect for the artist wasn’t there. You set a price or standard for yourself, and they questioned it. They also weren’t urgent in commissions or—I don’t want to say they disrespected me; it’s just that the same level of respect wasn’t there. I don’t really have those problems too much now.
I learned from all of those mistakes and took the blame. I’m more proactive. So it’s all a learning experience for me.
Other than that, I can get so many commissions but if my heart’s not in it or I can’t be creative, I decline. It’s hard to—well for me it’s hard— to just take things for money or do things for money because I literally get stressed out and it puts me in a bad mood because I’m so closely attached to whatever I make. It’s really all I do. I read and make art, and that’s it pretty much. So if it’s something I don’t really like or I can’t relate to its really hard. It’s hard for me to be uncreative.
I ask a lot of questions in the beginning and if it doesn’t really fit, I just say that that’s not my lane unless we can compromise.
What is the common theme in your personal art?
Normally it’s about women but not the about the hardships we go through. Mostly uplifting. In general, I like to focus on the positive and not the negative, so I don’t really like to highlight what a woman’s hardships are. I want to focus on the unique qualities.
So with Venus … that project is really hard to explain because it just came to me. That was more focused on energy. There’s a special type of energy that women have. So I felt like I wanted to try to capture that. One piece was a cityscape, one was a beach, and one was a nature type of landscape. I wanted three different perspectives of the world we live in. Then I just transformed them psychically. A space, filled with the women in there somehow.
It gives you a Mother Nature feel. How’d you end up using the leopard?
I like wild cats, lol. I don’t watch much T.V., but when I do I always go to Nat GEO or Animal Planet. It all leads back to me observing life and how nature reacts to no distractions. Animals don’t really have the free will and the kind of logic we have. So they just naturally know how to do things. So I try to relate back to our human life. *LOL* you can laugh at me for that but that’s really my reasoning. How do they [animals] know how to do that?
What would you caption it?
I never sat back and looked at it because I just kind of see it in the layers that I created it. I don’t really have a caption.
But everything is connected from her breathing in the sky, the galaxy, from– I think this was water too, actually. So she was breathing, she was actually smoking a cigarette so she was blowing that out… It’s just like literally when I go in to make projects I’m just sitting there *taps pen*, I’m not there. I’m just clicking and placing stuff – reacting. When I get done I just step back and look at it and have somebody else tell me what they thought about it like “ok that makes sense.”
The ladies in your art resemble almost like models, like old school models.
I like vintage photographs, but I try to focus on black women. So that’s how I chose the models. I like the look that they give, the simplicity.
I also noticed, in both ‘Venus’ and ‘Entity’, pink themes, galaxy and fantasy. Starry. Can you talk about how you choose those themes?
Entity, I released back in December of 2015. That was mixed media. I shot the pictures in empty space and the subject had on a pink wig. I’m always going to use pink in my personal projects. It’s my favorite color. I’m more into it for the psychological effects. Pink represents femininity, sensitivity, and womanhood. It’s a caring color. … It stands out to me and I feel connected to it for whatever reason. It’s my go to. Things feel incomplete unless I have pink in there. Even when I do commission work I always want to use pink but I can’t. ‘Like if I could just make this pink it would feel finished’ (laughs). It’s just what I always gravitate towards.
I wanted it to be a relatable image for any woman so I turned the wigs around. Part of my process is that I think about it but I don’t really plan it. I might right down ideas but I’m a feeling person so whatever the vibe is, go with that.
What about the common star theme. It’s all fantasy. Far off galaxy, but you bring the women empowerment to it, so it’s still very relatable. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Well the stars – I mentioned, it’s really hard to explain where it came from. Just looking at a lot of my previous work, I just naturally gravitate towards that also. I create from my feelings and a feeling, so whatever I’m feeling in that moment, I hope people get that from looking at the work.
Can we just really break down ‘Entity’, your most recent series?
I’m really inspired by words, so the definition of entity is: something that exists apart from other things, having its own independent existence. I actually saw a tweet that was kind of a disrespectful tweet and I can’t remember word for word. It was along the lines of basically we (men) don’t need women for anything. So entity was more about a woman finding her light. I don’t like to say to give a man or anyone something to keep, but to find and apply that light. It could be intelligence, creating, helping people, being someone’s strength, or just some sort of value to you. After that, you can’t be replaced, or thrown away without a sense of loss. Above everything, you’ll feel better about yourself and for yourself by knowing your quality.
Can you talk about the ladder in ‘Entity’?
It was pretty much just an open white space at a gallery, so I just went in there and shot around it.
Basically, the main goal was to capture energy in the room so I don’t really like to explain too much of whatever’s happening in the scene. Sometimes I don’t know. It’s whatever I was thinking/feeling. So however someone relates to is cool. I just give a normal brief overview statement of where I’m coming from and let people feel however they feel after.
So what about some of your graphics where their faces are not clear?
I just find myself messing with eyes because that’s how we identify one another for the most part. I didn’t want somebody to look and say ‘hey, this is that person.’ Unless it’s intentional, like the Gucci Mane [which] was done on his birthday. So if it’s just a random person. I just normally do something to distort their face so it’s a piece of art versus ‘this is that person.’
What’s next for you? Is there something big that you’d like to work on? Do you have some commissions coming up or have you thought about your next series?
Well—I’ve released my personal projects on the same day for the last two years. So Venus was December 12th, 2014, and then Entity was December 12th, 2015, so my next personal project in the women category would be December 12th of this year. I’m really big on using my imagination so, I like doing creative concepts and sometimes it doesn’t really have a meaning; they just look nice. Which is what I’m big on, too. Sometimes everything doesn’t mean too much. I mean, to me it does but to the viewer, it’s open for interpretation. So, I did a lot of graphics for the last year basically but I’m also a photographer, so I’m just lining up a bunch of conceptual shoots to show how I think visually or as a photographer.
Do you have any ideas on what the next series would look like?
I have no idea!
So it’ll just happen?
Yeah, literally. I have to focus and get in that creative space. Only thing that I can say is something ‘pink’ most likely and that’s it. I have no idea.
Follow Kara on Twitter: @
On IG: @Karabizear
Flickr: Kara Young