“She draws like a poet.” That is the first sentence that came to my head as I sat down to write about Allison Kunath. I’ve have watched her grow as an artist and person for the past few years and am always surprised and impressed by what I find when we get the chance to meet. You may know her for doing live blind contour drawings in and about LA’s art scene but she is also a freelance painter and graphic artist and a member of the design boutique, Polychrome. She often asks herself if she is doing all she can with what she has been given. With a ripe talent in her pocket, and the taste for change on her tongue the question that hangs in the air for Allison is one present in the minds of so many young creatives after they graduate from art school and get jobs in fields they didn’t major in, “What do I do now?”
Time doesn’t allow for a formal Q and A, because of course, Allison has somewhere to be. So as the sun begins to set we rap about what is on the horizon; goals, aspirations, and pressures. Allison is aware of the grass on the other side of the fence, she wants it, but maybe not wholeheartedly, she knows it isn’t always greener. “If you would have asked me a year, or even 6months ago, I would have more clearly stated a desire to transition into more independent work. But these days more than ever, I am excited about the work we are doing, and I wanna stick around to see what we can create together.” Allison’s is one of five that make the creative solutions firm Polychrome and has had to struggle with seeing herself as an employee in a small firm but I wonder if that wasn’t in part due to her own perspective.
Let’s face it, if you are working, you have a boss. Even if you are a freelancer your clients are your bosses. If you work in sales, your customers are your bosses. The difference is in how we see the contribution we make at our place of work and for those of us with a wild spirit, it is also in what we get from where we work besides a pay check that matters.
When comparing her job to others, you might say she has nothing to complain about. She has stable work in tough times, she’s not rich, but can certainly support herself. Allison is not one to ignore that she is in a good place but she has a constant itch for more, to continue to grow, and stretch herself beyond where she is at present, and that can make things confusing.
I get the sense that everything going well for her and maybe she has reached a comfortable place in life. As we know when things are going well there is a tendency to become complacent. The word complacent does not sit well with Allison. She reacts physically, like I just spoke a nightmare. “I got a little chill when you said that, it is my least favorite idea. COMPLACENT?! Fuck that.” Fear is one of the cardinal points in our belief system, and it seems Allison is afraid of stagnation.
Specifically she wants to do more at work, contribute to that five person team. She wants to continue to sell her art with shows and gallery placements. There is so much more in personal development, fitness, relationships, for some one that is already busy Allison is trying to cram so much productivity into her days I have to ask Where does it end?
“I haven’t thrown up yet. I’ve finished some games okay, and some where I was really tired, but none where I can say I left it all on the court.” This metaphor sums it up like any athlete, calling on her college volleyball past. It is poignant because it illustrates that gratificatin actually has less to do with the final score but more the knowledge that you have put forth every fiber of your being to accomplish something, even if that something is everything.
For Allison, it is not enough to be successful by any worldly measure, because she knows that is all relative. The grass will always be greener on the other side, but it is appreciating the grass beneath your feet and cultivating a rich lawn. Allison fears complacency because she knows that life is precious and we do not have the luxury of wasting any of it, even if it is intentionally spent relaxing. Allison Kunath understands that what she puts into her job, and her art, she gets out of it equally, if not more. She understands that no matter what the score board says, if she has not “left it all on the court” she won’t get the feeling of accomplishment she is after.
I think she may have more figured out than she let’s on, or maybe more figured out than she knows, but it is inspiring to see her unfold. It is inspiring to see a person push themselves to be better each day in little ways and stretch outward in many directions. It is inspiring to see Allison grow as an artist and blossom as a person. She is one of my dear friends and continues to surprise me regularly.
Oh, and yes, there is art!