I met Terri in person at the pinnacle of the most hectic week of my life. I was in the midst of packing up our entire life in Philly to move to Miami for a new job, and was trying to cram so many overwhelming logistical obligations with emotional goodbyes to 12 years worth of dear friends.
Coincidentally, it was the week that Sarah Ferone
organized the Philly meetup to celebrate the completion of The 100 Day Project
. I was so amped up about that project and had been working with Sarah to try to get a show together. We created a proposal and everything. We realized it was not going to work when I accepted a job in Miami (2 weeks prior), so going to that meetup was especially important to me. And I'm so grateful I did.
So I went! I dragged my Swedish friends who were also visiting, their 2 children, my husband and toddler to a beer garden. And thank God I did. Because it was such a special day. The world slowed down for two hours. The July heat took a quick nap. What a thrill to connect in real life with people I'd interacted with only online. Terri was so kind and I felt an instant connection. She saw I was a little frazzled wrangling my cranky two year old, and just put me at ease. It was time for us to leave Philly to move on with our lives, but it was a moment of - "Are you kidding me?! I meet these amazing new friends NOW?!" So I'll always associate Terri and her lovely illustration and kindness with a very special day in my life.
Equally as important, her illustration work is fantastic. She has a style that's unique when everything starts looking the same these days. It's got a lovely crudeness to it that I don't mean in a negative way. It's a rawness that is edgy and still has the energy and curiosity of children before they start trying to be too cool. I hope that makes sense and conveys the compliment I mean. I could see her work in textiles and many other things. Either way, I'm glad she's my friend and is sharing with us today. So thank you, Terri!
Tell us about yourself. How old are your children? Where can we find you?
I’m Terri Fry Kasuba. I am an illustrator. I started out working in advertising agencies on the account side and decided to go back to school for art and specifically graphic design. I have worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for the past 15 years. I have been concentrating more on illustration in the past year. I have two boys Zach 12 and Max 10 with my husband Bryce. You can find me many places, but my main web site is Kasubadesign.com and I am on many social media platforms. In fact that’s how I met you Marissa - doing the 100 day project and then meeting in real life for our Philly meet-up.
Has your approach to painting, your processes, medium, or your inspiration changed since having children?
My boys are older at this point and to be honest when they were little I had a hard time finding the time to do illustration. I did it in fits and starts between working as a freelance graphic designer. I am not sure my change in approach is due to having children but it has changed. I used to work more on the computer doing vector illustrations, now I would say I paint more and then finish it up in the computer.
Is it easy or difficult for you to find/make time to create? Did you have to give anything up? Do you have advice on what works for you?
The thing I found the most difficult when starting out in illustration was making a habit of sitting in my studio everyday and just starting. Just showing up to do the work was probably the best piece of advice I’ve gotten. It was difficult to start and I really had to make it a habit. Just like exercise or anything else. I would get up early to run, come home and get the kids ready for school or daycare, and then go right up stairs to my studio and start to paint or draw for at least 30 minutes for a warm up. Also I started listening to podcasts or audio books and stopped listening to music. Podcasts take my mind out of the artwork so my brain can wander and I can do the work and not have that inner critic constantly badgering me. My favorite quote is: “My inner critic is an asshole” If you keep working at it you can tame that inner critic, at least most of the time.
In August 2015 I started teaching an Illustration course at Tyler School of Art and in October I went back to work as a graphic designer full-time at an advertising agency. I wasn’t looking for a full-time job but it fell in my lap and I decided with 2 boys I might want to start saving for college. When I decided to take the full-time job I had a conversation with my husband that I was not going to give up illustration, so I work nights and weekends to make that happen. But I could not do that without the support of my husband who has taken over a lot of the kids and house duties. I was very nervous that I would be too tired to keep creating but it’s been 4 months now and it’s going great. I did hire someone part time to do some business stuff that I don’t’have time for.
How does being an artist make you a better mother to your children? What do you hope they take away from seeing you as an artist doing something that fulfills you?
I feel like I have empathy for what it’s like to be a child. It’s hard work learning new things, trying to find out who you are and what you are good at and I feel like I go through that all the time. Also when I tell my kids you need to practice to be good at something, I am showing them that everyday. Plus they see how hard I work AND that I enjoy what I am doing. They also see the lows of when I don’t get a project that I wanted or win a contest that I entered. To show them how you can handle the ups and downs of life is a valuable lesson.
Side note: I love it when my 12 year old “likes” my IG pics and when my 10 year old comes in to art direct me while I’m painting.
Where do you paint or create? What are your favorite things about your workspace and what would you improve? Do you ever create art with your kids?
I have moved all around my house. When the kids were little I was in a small room on the 1st floor because we needed the 3rd bedroom for a nursery. When the boys were put in the same room I claimed the nursery. I love it! I have a huge magnetic board on the walls and an Ikea dining room table with leaves. It is jam packed. I hope my boys never decide they each want their own room!
My older son Zach is not into painting or drawing but has taken video game design courses and I help him with that if I can. My younger son Max occasionally likes to draw or paint with me, but both boys are more into sports, especially soccer, video games,..
One thing we do together is I try to encourage them to come up with ideas and I will sketch or paint them and recently we have been working on an alphabet book together. It’s all about improvisation!
Do you have any tips to streamline / delegate / outsource household and childcare activities so that you can focus more time on your art? Has your lifestyle changed in any major ways?
My husband works at home so he splits household stuff.I wake up earlier or stay up later and work on weekends. I especially like to work on weekends because I can just say Dad is in charge, so I don’t have to stop and start what I’m doing.
I would say that is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome- the stopping to get someone a snack, let the dog out, go pick someone up…
Do you have any big goals or dreams for your art that you’d like to share? What would be your dream project?
P.S. These days Terri and Barb Chotiner are doing fun illustration challenges which you can see and participate in over on Instargram #16in16art. Thank you again, Terri!