TSKC interviews Caitlin Irwin!
Tell us about yourself. What do you do?
A little about myself. I have been a professional artist for over 22 years ( I am 36 now.) I did my first public mural installation at age 14 (my company at the time was called "Reality Impaired.") Around the same age, I wrote and illustrated " Conquering the Beast Within," a book about my personal experience with depression. That book was later published by Random House in 1999. At that time, I also earned my bachelors in studio art with an emphasis in environmental and Native American studies.
I am currently the owner of Irwin Artworks LLC, a company that provides art services such as mural work, sculpture, graphic design and fine art commissions. I also do art workshops with a variety of clientele, including youth at risk and art exploration programs with kids ranging from ages 8-18. I travel about half the year to different locations to work, to create art exhibitions in galleries, as well as attending artist in residence programs. While out traveling I also sell quite a bit online, mainly through my Etsy shop. This is a great way to generate income while making my work accessible to a wide market and as well as offering a wide range in price.
I am in my 3rd year of business and as of now I do it all from the actual art work, marketing, brokering business arrangements and even book keeping! Currently, my focus is shifting and I am becoming more political in my work. I believe that art is critical now more than ever. In a way, it is critical for my own mental health too! I am a firm believer that art has healing potential for both the creator and the audience.
When did you first begin to create?
I’ve wanted to create since I can remember. I was lucky to have a supportive family, especially my mom. I think she is the only other person, other than myself, that never doubted that I NEEDED art in my life and that I can be successful with it. Being an artist is the only thing that I have never doubted in my own life, even in times of struggle.
What was your inspiration at the time?
I had the nickname "Curious Cait" when I was very young. I think my inspiration when I was a child was simply the world around me. We moved around a bit when I was a kid and I think I was a little sponge just soaking up as much data as possible! My favorite thing to do, and still is now, is to spend time in nature. Even at a young age I felt safe and accepted in the natural world. I felt a kinship with plants and animals. I felt a spiritual connection even as a kid and lucky for me I could explore those ideas freely with my mom.
How about now, what inspires you?
I sometimes wonder how much we really change? I think those core values and aspects of our personalities simply evolve and deepen with age. For me, this is true with my inspirations... Nature is even more of a necessity to me and I am sure my love for the natural world will keep growing. I studied a wide range of topics while in college, but it was the courses involving wildlife and the environment that moved me the most. But like I said before, we don't change that much. It is my curiosity that propels me into different worlds and circles of people. Most recently, I became a certified Scuba diver to widen my range of inspiration by the natural world.
What is your favourite myth?
Many myths are interesting, but one has always stood out... The myth of Artemis. I think it had such an impact on me because I could identify with it. The way I am living my life is a bit unconventional. Often times I think that people don't know what "category" to put me in. And the older I get I see how important that it to some people. I love the idea that Artemis felt most at home in the wilderness. I love that she was by herself and yet didn't feel lonely. I love how her requirements for a mate was someone that was equal to her, but at the same time having a mate could risk her freedom, and she would rather be alone than be captured and controlled. Artemis was fierce, independent, provided for herself and was woven into the very fabric of the nature world that she occupied.
What is something you find fascinating about myths?
There are so many reasons to be fascinated by a myth! I think they tap into the whole spectrum of our emotions. We can identify with a variety of myths because each one hits a nerve and can cause a visceral and personal reaction. A myth that scares us taps into our deepest of fears. Fears we might not even be conscious of. A myth can inspire us because it can battle another myth that was designed to limit you. A myth can make you feel like you are understood and that you are not alone, like how the myth of Artemis make me feel.
Do you think there’s some truth to myths?
Just a theory...If a myth was originally created to pass down a tradition, help a person relate to the world around them, to teach a lesson and/or to protect someone from possible danger, then I would agree that there is some truth to a myth. I think it must start as a truth but like anything, they seem to evolve when a person uses it for there own purposes. That's when a myth transforms into a belief structure that really has no factual standing.
Where can we see more of your work?
I have a website irwinartworks.com ...as well as an Irwin Artworks Facebook page. I am most active in my Instagram account as I love the idea of communicating with such a wide range of people. It is inspiring and I love networking. My handle is @well_fed_artist. I chose that handle to debunk the starving artist myth! In my opinion, the idea that you will always be struggling if you want to be an artist needs to stop!