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Meet Kristen Fogarty

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristen Fogarty.

Kristen, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
In 2015, I made a solo move to Denver with one goal in mind: become an artist. At the time, my level of fearlessness (and lack of responsible plan) was a little worrisome but I decided to be brave and it paid off.

I grew up in Savannah, Georgia, a southern gem with a lot of soul. As a child, I pursued the arts in one form or another – dancing, singing, art camps and classes when I could. While I was encouraged, there aren’t many artists in my family so I didn’t really know what that life looked like. It wasn’t until college at the University of Georgia that I began to truly explore the creative world and its endless possibilities. My degree is in graphic design, but after taking classes like drawing, painting, printmaking and photography, I knew I didn’t want be confined to a computer.

Post-graduation, I was a designer for Red Clover, an e-commerce and brick & mortar boutique in Savannah. When I set my sights west, I was lucky enough to take that role with me. I put a lot of trust into my move to Denver. I hoped that if I put myself out there, things would fall into place, and they did. Within my first month here, I met a fellow female artist and began an assistantship as a decorative interior painter with Magpie Painting. I learned to paint everything from kitchen cabinets to ceilings, faux finishes to large scale murals. Since I was still designing, I executed the rebrand of their business, built a new website and established their social presence online.

Through freelance and commissioned creative work, I have (in some capacity) been working for myself since I was 22 and in November 2018, it was time to totally commit. Being able to work full time as an artist made me a better designer and working remotely as a freelance designer has made it possible for me to continue my pursuits as an artist. I’ve worked with clients in many different industries like music, retail, wellness and energy. I’ve been fortunate to work with start-ups and small businesses and have gained so much relevant knowledge for my own business along the way.

As a fine artist, I work in mixed media – pen, ink, watercolor, gouache, acrylic and oil. I sell original artwork and commissioned pieces and I am so grateful to the community of patrons I have supporting my work. I’ve painted in a yoga studio, a home goods boutique, live in a library, I’ve even painted faces at Red Rocks. Right now, I want to say yes to anything creative. I’m just getting started and I want to do it all.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I would be lying if I said this road has been smooth, but I’ll share what’s most important. Moving to Denver was one of the best decisions I have ever made. It’s a welcoming city full of sunshine and it has inspired me in every way possible to be open, work hard and keep going. When you’re establishing yourself as an artist, moving to a new city 2000 miles from home where you only know your roommate is not without its challenges. That’s the beauty of it though and I think it’s important to go where you grow. I had to get out of my comfort zone to do something different and I’m grateful I chose colorful Colorado.

I have been in physical therapy twice in the last three years for neck, shoulder, and back issues… not to mention wrist. It can be pretty tough when you’re an ex-cheerleader graphic designer/artist who likes to paint murals. I had never experienced a serious injury before and it has been a journey of breaking old habits and learning new strong ones. It has often put me out of commission and every day, I have to pay attention to what my body needs on top of what my career needs. I’d like to think it makes me more aware but it takes practice.

My ultimate challenge has been learning to say no. I like to help people and in my life that has often come at the cost of helping myself. It’s everything from saying no to a night out to stay home and paint, to a wedding when I can’t travel home, to relationships that need to end, or losing clients because I have to value my work. I have had to learn to let go of what isn’t serving me and do more of what does. It’s a work in progress but worth all the effort.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with your work.  What else should our readers know about you, your work and your career so far.
I’m a sole entity and I have created my own career. I chose an unconventional path to get here, but for artists that might mean it’s the most conventional.

I work from home in a studio. As a graphic designer, I have worked with companies in industries varying from politics to fashion, health to interior design, music to solar energy. My typical projects include things like logos, branding, website design, art direction, content creation, and digital illustration. It has been my goal since I started working for myself to combine my love of organic media with digital design and I try to whenever possible. I work with mostly start-ups and small businesses and it has been a welcomed challenge learning to explain the creative process to people who have no idea what it looks like. We’re all in this together.

As a fine artist, I began selling my work through commissions. When I moved to Denver, I wanted to meet a creative mentor and I never would have thought it would come in the form of a job painting murals. But it taught me (almost) everything I know about painting. Now I take what I’ve learned and apply it to my own work. My personal creations are mixed media pieces inspired by nature, often surreal and painted from my own photographs or sometimes just a daydream. I work in pen, ink, watercolor, gouache, acrylic and oil on wood, canvas, paper, glass, walls, ceilings, furniture…. just to name a few. My style leans toward magical realism, and what I love most is creating work that celebrates the already abstract and surreal world we live in.

One of my favorite things about my job is the connections I make. I get to know the people behind the businesses. I get to paint things that mean so much to the people commissioning them. I hope that’s what sets me apart. I take great care with everything I create because there’s always a deeper meaning. I’m an artist for myself but also for the people, hoping to help others see things differently.

So, what’s next? Any big plans?
I want to learn more about digital illustration and better myself as a designer so I can take on more creative and colorful work. I’d love to paint more walls and I’m putting efforts towards finding a space for a series I’ve been developing. Whether it’s through a gallery, a store, or online I’d like to sell more original artwork and continue exploring my own creative interests.

I want to focus on finding the balance of design and fine artwork, making time to draw and paint more because that’s what I’m most passionate about. Eventually, I’d like to find a space for a studio outside of my home. I’m so grateful for my extra bedroom but soon I will be out of room and it would be nice to get out more.

One day, I’d love to teach. I’ve taught a few classes at Anythink Library in Thornton and have a series in the works there this summer where I’ll be live painting for a day and then hosting four programs centered around collaborative artwork. It’s the first time I’ve done anything like it and I’m excited to see how it goes. Art has taught me about freedom, breaking rules, and loving your mistakes. I hope that’s something I can pass along.

Contact Info:


Image Credit:
Photos by Kristen Fogarty, Nate Pearson and Chris Weld

Getting in touch: VoyageDenver is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

2 Comments

  1. ND Woodruff

    May 21, 2019 at 7:40 pm

    Wonderful article about a very gifted and talented artist and generous soul! Congratulations Kristen! We love you so much! The Woodruffs

  2. Allison King

    May 21, 2019 at 10:00 pm

    Savannah friends are so proud of you, Kristen Fogarty! Your work continues to amaze and inspire us all. Thank you for sharing yourself! Allison King

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