Artist Feature: Fringe + Branch
We caught up with artist Kait O'Connell of Fringe + Branch to hear a bit more about her process. Jayna + Kait have known each other since middle school, but recently re-connected through a by-mail collaboration, coast to coast. The Junkyard designed + created steel frames for Kait to work her macrame magic on as she pleased! We've done a few runs of this collaborative process, and look forward to more! Check out some of the collab wall hangings here
You're the definition of a girl boss! I've seen your artist portfolio, and not only are you the sole owner and creator at Fringe + Branch, but you also take amazing photos, and work in creative advertising. How do you juggle all of these constant projects?
I’m a Digital Solutions Specialist for a pharma agency Monday-Friday, 9-5. It can sometimes be tough juggling this along with Fringe + Branch! However, at the end of a long day of sitting on my computer, I feel like working with fiber art is a treat after a hard day’s work. It never really feels like a chore. I consider working with fringe + branch “me time,” because most of the time I’m working with a cup of coffee and something I enjoy watching or listening to on in the background. Work will always be a constant in life, but it’s so important to make time to do things that you love, and I truly love creating for fringe + branch to make pieces that others will love.
It can be tough to work creatively every day. Where do you find creative inspiration when the creativity starts to feel dried up?
It’s so true that sometimes working creatively on different types of media every day can use up a lot of brain power. Sometimes I come home from work from my 9-5 pharma job and just want to lay down and watch reruns of Seinfeld and not do anything else. When this happens, I usually go on my fringe + branch Instagram account and see how my fellow makers are creating for their own communities, and it reminds me why I do what I do. The maker community is such a motivating force, so this is when I usually experiment with different knots, patterns, and types of fiber. I’ve learned through the past few years that it’s good to give yourself time to work instead of rushing through a project. Each piece deserves an equal amount of effort and love, because someone somewhere will make it part of their home. That in itself is inspiring.
Your keen eye for composition and design is apparent in every medium you work in. Can you touch on your process with this?
Honestly, I don’t really have a set process in any medium I work in. I sometimes have designs in my head that I can’t wait to see in real life, but a lot of the time I create as I go. This can sometimes lead to chaos, but I like the challenge of thinking (or creating) on my feet and the journey I go through while doing so. This ensures every piece is different and unique. I usually know when a piece is done or if it needs more, and I like working off those feelings.
As someone with a basis in design and advertising, what drew you to working with fibers?
In some way or another I’ve always loved working with different types of fiber. When I was younger, this interest took the form of making friendship bracelets. Also, my grandmother loved to knit, which I actually just started learning as well. I think what I like about fiber art is the fact that you can create something tangible. You can make something come to life that wasn’t there before. As much as I love designing on the computer, I like being able to touch and feel the work I’ve done and I appreciate the process and intricacies of creation. It’s so awesome seeing something go from a concept in my head to existing in real life.
You grew up right outside of and currently live in Philadelphia, but are relocating to Brooklyn soon! What are you looking forward to most with your new move?
I feel like I will always consider Philadelphia as my home, but I am BEYOND excited to be moving to Brooklyn. It’s always been a dream of mine to move to New York. Part of me always felt like I belong there and would thrive. The thing I’m most excited about is networking with other creative in the area, as I did in Philly. It’s so nice to have a local community around you so you can bounce ideas off each other, support each other’s work, and collaborate. I’ve already spotted local studios in Brooklyn that I’ll be able to work and create. It’ll be nice to have maker friends at home in Philly and in my new home in Brooklyn. I’m anxious and excited to spread the word about fringe + branch in a huge city like NYC!
I’m also super excited to have an office/studio space of my own. Right now, I work in my bedroom or my living room on the couch. In Brooklyn, I’ll have my own space to create fringe + branch pieces peacefully. It makes such a difference when your workspace is set and organized!