Hi Carissa, can you please tell us about yourself with a quick intro?
I am a human being who really likes to make things. And I like people. And I like the outdoors. I spend a lot of time thinking about why we do what we do. What it means to be human. And what it takes to keep going.
What does a typical day in the life for you look like?
The other day, I noticed that I have forgotten how to set an alarm. I looked at my phone and I couldn't do it. I have a child who gets up at six, so I no longer have to worry about sleeping in. For the past I don't know year, I have been sleeping with her, by accident, she will cry out for me in the night, and I will end up falling asleep by her side. We get up. She has CF so we do an hour of breathing treatment and then prep meds for the day that typically takes another hour. Then I go to work. And I spend the day between these two mindsets: I am so unbelievably lucky to get to do what I do and there is so much to do that I can’t do anything and I cry almost every day. But somehow I have surrounded myself with really wonderful people and I look forward to seeing them every day. I try to schedule something creative every day. But mostly I just answer emails. I leave at 3 pm to catch a walk with my dad and kid. I have found that if I don't walk everyday there are very real consequences. At first, it was really hard to justify taking an hour walk every day, because there were so many things on my stupid to-do list. But now, I know I can't do anything after a few days if I don't walk. Being outside is really important. Then an hour more of breathing treatments for M, make dinner and eat, then (and this is exactly the same every day) M and I take a bath together. This is one of the best times of the day. We soak in warm water. M plays in the bubbles and I just try to relax my muscles and feel grateful for all I have. We continue our nighttime routine with smelling random cosmetics and oils in my drawer, brushing our teeth and then we read books. Hopefully, she falls asleep and then I give her extra water, meds, and food through her tube. At this point, around 8:30 I intend on getting back up and doing some work, but I never do. I let myself fall asleep by her side. We have this schedule down to the hour.
What are your passions and what led you to People I’ve Loved?
I feel like lots of people could say this, but I never felt like I belonged. People, intimacy, the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of things, are all so fascinating. For me, working through my desires with art makes me feel better. I hope it makes other people feel better too. Like we are all human. In my mind, I craft the conversations, acceptance, and connections that I long for. I try to orchestrate this for other people.
If there's one word we'd use to describe your work, it's "relatable". You have the incredible ability to make everyone feel seen and understood. Where does that come from? How has your exploration of your own mental & emotional health impacted your art?
That is really flattering. I think I have no shame. Nor should you. I think by being open to exploring why things are the way they are we uncover an acceptance - and that feels good to me. I feel at peace with what is.
I personally see my mental health/practice/business/life as a series of experiments. It's fucked up to say, but there is something comforting to know that when you share things about yourself or your desires that other people have them too. Good and bad. Right or wrong. I long to feel accepted and loved for all parts of me. Even the unlovable parts. I want that for you too.
Every artist has a different creative process, can you tell us a bit about yours? Do you wait for ideas to come to you before you get to work on them? Or do you set specific time to work and trust that the words and art will come to you?"
Both. All? Basically, I just pay attention to what my brain is thinking about and run with it. Sometimes nothing comes, and I just show up and hope for the best. Sometimes I take a nap and my questions are answered. I wish I had a solid formula. I really value flexibility. And being tender with my thoughts. There is a certain faith I have in the universality of the human experience that I am never alone in how I feel. Having a child has done wonders for trying to reframe your inner voice.
If I had to pick one, I would say, listen to your mind and what is worrying you. Write it out. Explore that. And something will come.
Can you tell us a little bit about the design for this mental health awareness sneaker and your hope for the campaign?
I am really privileged to have had a family that valued mental health as part of wellbeing. I started using the phrase, "You got this." to myself and other people years ago. I remember when my friend and fellow artist Cara Levine said it to me. And somehow haunted me in a good way. The design morphed from a pair of socks I had made that were superhero socks. Like a Clark Kent situation - you could have meaning and confidence in you that no one knew about but you. And I delighted in that fact. These, the text is visible. It becomes something you say to other people, a way to comfort them without saying a word. And I like that. Almost like, "You are safe with me." Even if people think it is too literal, perhaps on some level, they feel it. Or a sense of agency in a world that feels out of control.