BABE #304: INDIA K - Artist & Senior Producer
Born into a family of musicians, India has always been artistic by nature. As a producer, installation artist and photographer, her career is dependent on the ability to create. By day, she works in production, doing everything from directing shoots to securing location rights. By nights and weekends, she’s an installation artist and photographer. With a dedication to work/life balance, India approaches her work with intention and honesty, and a focus on exploring themes of self-worth, vulnerability and memory. In her words: the more she makes, the better she feels.
Hometown: San Francisco, California
Current city: Brooklyn, New York (Soon: Portland, Oregon)
Alma mater: Bennington College
Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Very first job: Photo assistant
Hustle: Artist & Senior Producer
How do you spend your free time?
My favorite activities outside making my artwork are reading, drinking and eating. I love trying new bars and restaurants, and think good food is inspiring and rewarding.
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
In the winter I love matcha lattes. In the summer, iced Americano with almond milk.
Current power anthem?
“We Appreciate Power,” by Grimes.
What would you eat for your very last meal?
Grilled octopus with green olives and a side of labneh with pita.
What’s something most don’t know about you?
I read between 30 and 50 books a year.
Tell us about your hustle.
I like to say I have two full time jobs: During the day, I work as a senior producer at a small production company, doing everything from directing shoots to securing location rights. At night and on weekends, I work on my art. I’m an installation artist and photographer working primarily in themes of self-worth, vulnerability and memory.
What does your typical workday look like?
On weekdays, I’m usually working from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. The majority of the day is spent either on-location for a shoot or at a desk planning for the next shoot. When I’m done with that part of my day, I’m home at my mini studio in my apartment working on new installations, sending pitch emails and responding to any commission requests. I do think the mentality of having to be always on and constantly working is a dangerous one. Some nights I do nothing. I get back from a shoot and I’m exhausted. I sit on my couch and watch “The Office” for the hundredth time. I make pasta and drink a beer. In my eyes, that is still productive.
Have you always had a passion for art and creating?
I was lucky to grow up in a house of artists. Both my parents are musicians and work in the arts. I had a very idealistic view of adulthood growing up and told everyone I wanted to be an artist. Of course, as I grew up and went to school and studied art I saw more and more how difficult that is and how lucky you have to be to make it happen full time. I’ve had to make shifts in my life to accomodate my art making, but it has always been a priority. The more I make, the better I feel. I love the idea of creating something—having a piece that is unique to an idea you had is special.
How would you describe your artistic style?
I used to make work about stories I heard or other people. I had a professor in college who urged me to make art about myself. I think what was hard for me about that in the past was that I didn’t see what was interesting about myself, and I think a big part of me found it to be narcissistic to talk about yourself in artwork. I thought I had to make art about the big issues, that art was to solve them. I do think art has a duty to talk about the important things, but what I realized was by turning my lens on myself, I was offering a much more authentic message to viewers of my work. I can be very vulnerable in making work about myself, and when you are vulnerable and have nothing to lose or gain, you become very honest.
How do you balance your freelance work with your nine-to-five role?
I’m a big fan of separating my work by space and time. When I’m home, I’m offline from my day work and fully committed to my art. I also have a totally separate desk that’s for art only. It’s set up and optimized for my art-making process. For organization, my Gmail inbox is label heaven; everything has a label and I keep a “to do” label pinned at the top of my inbox. I also am a firm believer in handwritten lists; writing something allows it to pass through your brain in a more actionable and direct way then typing. Post-it notes are forever. I travel about once a month for my production job, usually to go on shoots and direct onsite. It’s often for just a couple days (one time I went to Las Vegas and back twice in one week). The biggest thing I can recommend [for other travelers] is to make yourself mobile. Create a routine that works for you at home, but then adapt it to life on the road. That can take a couple tries and you kind of have to hack away at it, but it’s all about the details and little things. I have skincare routine I stick to every night and morning. When I’m on the go, I can’t bring all my products with me in a carry on, so I spent some time researching travel sized or travel versions of the products I liked. (Also, drink a lot of water. Planes are so dehydrating and hotel heating and cooling systems are drying as well. Your skin will thank you.)
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
I had my first solo show, “sorry if that was too much,” just this past October at Junior High in Los Angeles. I admire and love that place so much; it definitely felt like a milestone. It’s an honor to be given a space to do whatever I want in. Of course, coming out of it I had more and more ideas of what I could have done bigger and better.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
As an artist, I’ve been attacked for the work I make that criticizes men. The internet can be a really ugly place. As a producer, I’ve been on sets where men will only address the other men on my team, and mostly pretend as if I’m not there. It’s frustrating and irritating. Unfortunately, I usually find myself ignoring it in the name of professionalism. When I’m with another woman on set, I always make sure I understand their role and address them. In meetings we often ask each other questions by name. It’s little things, but it’s important. (And if you’re a dude and you work with a woman, just gut check yourself now and then.)
What’s the gender ratio like in your industry? Do you see it evolving?
The production industry is heavily male, as is the art world (especially photography). It is evolving and changing; I definitely sense a shift. But in production especially, it can be really hard to break in, and most people in charge are men, making it difficult to rise through the ranks. I respect female filmmakers and producers and camera people so much.
What is one of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your work? How’d you overcome it?
Not wanting to make anything. I’m not sure I know entirely how to overcome it. I definitely slip into spirals where I am upset I’m not producing work, which causes me to not produce even further. I think Instagram has unfortunately created a culture in which we have the perception that everyone is constantly creating, when that’s not the case at all. We see people being productive every day and it makes us feel like we can’t be in a rut or even take a break. Showing up is the hardest part. Just showing up and not making anything is totally fine. Even if I sit at my desk and try to write one thing, I feel better than if I didn’t try at all.
Who are some women in your field that you look to for inspiration?
My friends and peers are my biggest inspiration: Grace Miceli, Faye Orlove, Sara Dietschy, Ani Acopain, Mona Palmer and Kelsey of Hello Happy Plants, to name a few. I also am super inspired by Tuesday Bassen for her entrepreneurship, and then Phoebe Bridgers, Mitski and Kacey Musgraves. Lots of musicians keep me going these days.
What does your approach to work-life balance look like?
I have a mentor who always tells me, “Work-life balance isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. It’s something you constantly do.” I love that and think it’s a great reminder for everyone.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Be kind to yourself. This is a rough world. Don’t be afraid to cut people out. I promise you don’t need them and you will be fine. Don’t stop creating. Share your work often and ask for feedback. Say how you feel. Be honest. Mentor a younger woman.
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