Soupbone Collective

The impulse of a line

Interview with Kathrina Espinosa
Resident, November-December 2020

Phoebe: You mention that you work a day job of programming and web design. How does art fit into your daily schedule? Would you consider yourself an artist?

Kat: Art doesn’t fit at all in my official work schedule. By art, I mean drawing for fun, but I make space for it in the margins of my days---before working in the morning or before I sleep at night, I’ve made a habit of jotting down my to-dos and thoughts on a journal. I draw for fun mostly there in between my tasks and any stray thoughts that I write. Am I an artist? Sure. I’ve got a pretty low level definition of “artist”---anyone who thinks so and does any art is an artist for me. Whether they’re a good one or a bad one is another conversation.

Where do you draw inspiration from? What moves you?

Mostly beauty. Mostly finding beauty in unexpected places like the mundane or the un-beautiful. Also curiosity about anything in general.

Something I really love is how you call your Instagram page a “digital playground” for ideas. From time to time, you participate with followers and ask for prompts---has crowdsourcing always been a fundamental part of your art? Where do you draw a balance between the personal and the communal?

Crowdsourcing as a technique to coax myself to draw was actually something that was born out of Instagram’s platform. It wasn’t there from the start but it evolved together with the platform. Part of it was also the fact that sometimes I’m too lazy to think but I wanted to draw anything so I thought why not tap into other people’s heads? I actually enjoyed it a lot.

There’s something special about art when it’s shared. That’s why I like drawing for or with other people. I also like drawing for myself just to untangle some thoughts in my head. I don’t think so much about balance, it just happens on its own.

I think a lot about this John Ashbery quote that you shared: “Most reckless things are beautiful in some way, and recklessness is what makes experimental art beautiful, just as religions are beautiful because of the strong possibilities that they are founded on nothing.” I view your art as reckless---not in a haphazard way, but in a delightfully precipitous way, as if you are following the beauty of impulse. And I wonder if you could talk about that philosophy, this idea of making art that is beautiful but not necessarily pristine.

I also think about that John Ashbery quote quite a lot. He touches on something that has been on my mind but couldn’t articulate exactly. There’s something beautiful about an object or an idea being off-center.

“Following the beauty of impulse” is a pretty nice way to put it. Impulse implies recklessness and unexpected outcomes. I find both intriguing. When I draw, I usually don’t know what I’ll end up with. It’s a surprise. I follow the energy or the impulse of a line and it’s usually messy or weird or playful. I make space for a little chaos and the absurd. I think it makes beauty more interesting that way. I’m a big fan of contrast. Life’s boring without it.

I want to ask a question about place, because everyone in this collective is spread out geographically, including our residents. You mentioned that you’re based in the Philippines---how strongly is your work informed by your surroundings? How do you explore a place?

I started drawing seriously a couple of years ago as my personal mental exercise in observation. I had to draw what surrounds me, and the Philippines as a tropical country, lends itself to an abundant flora and fauna, endless landscapes and sea shores that have been a jumping board to most of my ideas and drawings. I learned how to draw by looking at nature, mostly plants and flowers because they’re easy to understand. When I think about it now, maybe my drawings are an expression of my attempt at understanding the environment around me. It just spilled out to other areas from there.

My favorite way of exploring a place is by walking. Taking long walks and stopping from time to time to pay attention to little things. I like looking at how light falls around an object. Different times of the day brings out a different mood to a place.

For more of Kat’s work, visit @luckyfutures.