What To Do... Kerry Pitt-Hart

It's so nice to be back here with you today starting another week of decor8 together. I have about 7 more guests for our What To Do... series, all are ready to share their journey and how they found their calling as a creative type with you. I'll post 1-2 of these inspirational reads daily this week in addition to plenty of art and decorating related finds that I come across. Prepare to have a lot of reading to do over the next 5 days so I hope you're ready! :)

Today we're meeting up with book author, artist, and jewelry designer Kerry Pitt-Hatt who is also a part-time museum educator. I thought it would be good to find a creative lady who also works a more traditional job in addition to her art because I think that for some, this is another great path to take -- pursuing your creative side while keeping the career you're in part-time. This is a long story and though I tried to edit it down I couldn't bear to remove any part of her journey because it really is quite a story of growth and determination. Kerry, take it away!

Work by Kerry Pitt-Hart.

Kerry, how do you think a person can find their spot in the world of design?

Know who you are - take an inventory of your skills - be honest with yourself. Know your craft. Do it well, and if you don't know how something is done, then learn how. Ask yourself:

* Do you like working with people?
* Or are you more of a solitary person?
* Have you considered spending time with someone who is already doing what you think you'd like to do? Spend a day or better yet, a week with them.
* What is their daily routine like?
* Can you see yourself doing this long term?

Most important, don't be afraid to make mistakes.

Do you feel that you found yours and if so, how did you get there?

I think I have found my calling, though I took a very roundabout path getting here. It all began when my parents decided the best thing for me was to get both a law degree and business degree and to enroll in a 3-3 program, whereby I could get both in six years instead of the normal seven. I clearly recall sitting through a lecture in Management Information Systems 101 and thinking, "What in the hell am I doing here?" After a very emotionally charged phone call to my parents, I forged on to eventually get a degree in Art History, which I am using today, and which informs my art and design.

What happened when you graduated?

I got sidetracked because when I graduated college I desperately needed a job. No one told me I would need at least a Master's to work as a curator at a museum, so we decided to move to Seattle. If you keep reading this, you'll know that I/we like to wander and explore. So we packed up our truck with what little we had, and on the way there, naturally, our transmission gave out. We finally did make it to our destination, and being very impractical people, we traded in the truck and somehow managed to buy a brand new one without a permanent residence and without a job. I needed to make that monthly car payment, so I fell into a job working at Microsoft. After working 70 hours week after week, I quickly burned out, and so what better time than to try something new, so we moved to New York. This would not be the last major move. There would be many more change of address forms to fill out and unrelated jobs.

Where did you live in New York and what did you do for work there?

We were in New York City for only 2 1/2 weeks! Yes, weeks! We moved there without a job and without a place to live, so we put our things in a storage unit in Brooklyn, and found a place to stay at the Vanderbilt YMCA on the Upper East Side. Long story, but I'll never forget our last day there. It was a Sunday morning. I went down to the lobby to book another week, and to sign up for the Harlem Heritage tour. The tiny lobby was filled with what seemed like hundreds of desperate-looking people. Some were crying. Some were yelling. It took me forever to push my way through to get to the counter where I was told they had overbooked the week, and that we would have to check out that day. After recovering from the news, and trying to find another hotel that didn't cost hundreds of dollars a night, we decided this wasn't meant to be, and so we rented a moving truck, got our things out of storage, and got on the road that evening and drove West.

Oh my goodness, what a story! So what happened next?

After New York, we took some time to figure out our next move, and so we traveled and then ended up in Seattle. From there, we moved to Chicago, San Francisco, Ashland, Oregon, then ended up in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska, and finally Kansas City where we've lived for 2 years now. The jobs I held during this time were in different industries and had considerable responsibility, which prevented me from pursuing my creative interests. This is another reason why part-time works so well for me. I tend to over-commit and finding a balance between work, family, and personal interests can be challenging for me.

Do you think moving around helped you find your path?

I don't regret any decisions I/we made, but this I do know...I could have gotten to where I am now much sooner if I hadn't moved around and stayed in one place instead. My husband's wanderlust will probably never be satisfied, but staying put has allowed me to do what I love and develop a network of caring, inspiring people, because you can't get there without the support and love from others.

Any words of advice on how to avoid getting sidetracked?

I think I can safely say that if you cut out the distractions, and not let yourself get sidetracked, this will clear time and focus you, for nothing is more important than time. Time to figure it out, to truly know yourself, to get the ideas out of your head, to finish work, and get the word out to others to show them what you're doing.

Now you're an artist/designer and art museum educator -- does your work as a teacher inspire you?

Yes! Working in a museum that is recognized internationally is incredibly inspiring. Working with kids is more of an outlet for me. I have found that I really enjoy the teaching aspect of it, and showing people what they can do with a little instruction, and then letting them create something of their very own is very rewarding to me.

Why do you do both part-time? Would you ever give up one to pursue the other full-time, or is the balance you currently have necessary and why?

I have too many interests to do one thing all day every day, and will never give up one to pursue the other full-time. If anything, I may also one day end up designing interiors, sourcing OOAK, handmade pieces from artisans around the world and offering them via mail-order, and/or getting a master's degree in Decorative Arts.

You just self-published a book and you have a flourishing etsy store - do you have any additional plans in the works?

Definitely yes. Short term, I plan to... 1) Along with the prints themselves, I will offer the objects too. 2) Larger sizes. 110 x 16 and 16 x 20. 3) Start a blog. 4) Continue to explore other media. In fact, before I started working on the What To Do... series with you, I was working on plans for the design of a chandelier made of hanks of alabaster glass beads from the 40's, and was emailing Grand Brass in New York for parts for this.

Do you have any fears?

My one fear is that I will not live as well as I know how. I continue to overcome this fear when it arises, and it does from time to time. Not every day will you have great ideas. Don't let this stop you. Remain optimistic. Have faith in yourself. Expect great things.

Any additional advice that you'd like to share with us today?

Have a ritual. Get up early. Keep a journal. Get the thoughts and ideas you have in your head out on paper. Take a break midday. Take a walk. Clear your head. Small steps first. With each success, you'll feel the motivation and determination to make one more. Enjoy every moment.

Thank you so much Kerry for sharing your story!

(image top: altered by me, original photo by Ez at Creature Comforts, bottom image from lush bella)