(Editor’s Note: This interview with alternative model and artist Kristie California, was conducted back in April 2012 by Tom Heckbert for the now-defunct website Eyestrane.com. It’s been republished at Idol Features courtesy of Tom.)
Kristie California is a successful alternative model and artist from Sacramento, California. In 2011, she was featured in the Even Tide’s music video for the single “Invisible Monster” and got her first publication in Snap Matter magazine (the World Tour issue). Shortly after, Kristie (whose real surname is Crowl) was featured in Vicious Bettys‘ Tattooed Vixens issue and their Lingerie & Latex Anniversary issue, as well as Radiant Inc‘s Vintage Vixens. Later this year, you can expect to see her work in Glam Rock, Licked, Tattoo You, Votive, Doin Life, and a few others. Above photo by Engle Photo.
KRISTIE CALIFORNIA: I’ve been drawing ever since I can remember. Within the last few years, I started taking an interest in paint and most recently I’ve gotten into digital art.
EYESTRANE: Who are some of the artists who inspire you?
KRISTIE: I’m often inspired by other artists, such as my boyfriend Ant, MILK, also known as Chiara Bautista, Tara McPherson, Glenn Arthur, Alex Grey ….all different styles of music, my loved ones and events happening in my life, but overall, the smallest things can spark an idea in me.
EYESTRANE: How would you best describe your style?
KRISTIE: I’d have to say that my style is similar to portraits with a cartoon edge. I believe that I’m best at and favor drawing and painting female subjects who have an alternative twist, either in style, such as with tattoos or piercings, or the living dead; zombies, bloody, monstrous features.
EYESTRANE: Two of my favorite pieces of yours are “Carousel” and “Froggy Guy.” Can you tell us about those pieces?
KRISTIE: The carousel painting was something inspired by my love for the Santa Cruz Boardwalk. I was born in Santa Cruz and used to love riding the carousel when I was little. This painting turned into an idea for my tattoo, my boyfriend altered it a bit and made it happen.
KRISTIE: That was a fun one! I drew up an alternative version of Snow White first, then some friends suggested I draw more to finish up a series, so I did. I later decided it would look better as a painting.
EYESTRANE: Also you draw and paint hands frequently. Are hands symbolic to you?
KRISTIE: Yes! Very. I love them. The sketches are for another series I will eventually be painting, either for the four elements or seven deadly sins. The painting I did with the banner that says “These Hands” are actually my boyfriend’s. If you sit and think about it from an artists standpoint, hands are worth a lot more. For instance, I use mine for art; painting, drawing, sculpting, holding my boyfriend, picking up my nephew, and soon they’ll be able to hold my son.
EYESTRANE: When did you begin modeling?
KRISTIE: I started modeling in August of 2010. I’m strictly freelance and have no desire to join with an agency. I’ve always had an issue with restrictions. I’ve watched so many creative people around me build from the ground up and fulfill their dreams. That has influenced me to work for myself and never give up. I think I’ve done amazing things by myself thus far and it’s only getting better, so there’s no reason to change it. I’m not saying anything bad about the people who chose to work with or for an agency, but being an artist, it’s just not for me. I love to create when working with my photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists.
KRISTIE: I love being in front of the camera. I can be having a bad day, or not be in the mood to shoot, but when we start, I feel a part of me come alive, I forget my worries and I can just relax and focus on the task at hand. All my photos have stories and themes even if others can’t see it. I put together mostly all of my outfits for my shoots, but I have worked with some very talented designers and companies such as Iron Fist, Westward Bound Latex, BAMF, Wicked Ladybug, Ajaile Couture, Chelsea Eden, and Janelle Cardenas, to say a few.
EYESTRANE: Can you tell us about some of your favorite shoots?
KRISTIE: Recently, since I’ve been pregnant, most of my shoots have been with the photographer Jessica Michelle. We vibe really well and always have ideas that are fun to collaborate on. We’ve been working on many projects for magazine publications. Other than that, I always enjoy working with Starphoto, Scott Kline, and the man who got me started; Jim Parks.
EYESTRANE: What was your experience like shooting the music video for the Even Tide’s “Invisible Monster”? Tell us about the role you played in it?
KRISTIE: Well in the beginning of my career, I had a shoot to go to, but not many clothes to wear, so I grabbed a band shirt from a concert that my boyfriend Ant and I had recently went to. It was the Even Tide’s, so when the photos got released, I showed them and they loved it! Quite a bit later, they contacted me saying that they needed a model/actress for their new video. I was stoked! Luckily enough, Ant got to play the male lead role with me. It was a good time. I played a figment of the imagination. Ant played a man going insane pretty much; he had the perfect life in his head, but found out the woman he loved was a pill popper who was dead inside. As the video goes on, it continues to show that the wife was never there to begin with and none of it was real all along.
KRISTIE: Make a Model Mayhem account, be professional, be on time, stay persistent. Not everyone will like you and you have to make it happen. Promote like crazy. Nobody else will do all of this for you to start out.
EYESTRANE: You are a big fan of Tattoos. Many do not see it as an art form. What is it that interests you?
KRISTIE: Tattoos are a big deal to me. It’s not just a trendy thing and they have absolutely nothing to do with my modeling career, even though I do like to show them off. I’ve always been interested in the art of it and not many people know that the industry is a huge part of my life. From 2009-2011, my sister owned two tattoo shops where my boyfriend of three years had apprenticed. I would stay nights at a time, helping out with sales or sketching throughout the day. I’ve had some great experiences and learned a lot by being lucky enough to just sit back and watch. She eventually shut them down to make more time for her son. When that happened, my boyfriend moved on to a shop in Roseville (California) called DV8. Since then, I’ve been able to meet new artistic minds, help out at conventions and give second opinions when needed.
EYESTRANE: Do any of your tattoos have special or personal meaning to you?
KRISTIE: My tattoos each have a very significant meaning. The ones that get the most questions would have to be the hourglass on my upper left arm, the pencil on my lower left arm and the all-seeing eye on my stomach. The hourglass symbolizes that everything can get better if it has the chance. Only time will tell how. The pencil is for my love of the basics, as an artist I started with a pencil. The all-seeing eye is a reminder to use my smarts and stay true to myself.
KRISTIE: Yep! I really like piercings, but I don’t plan on getting any more. I don’t particularly like needles. I can handle tattoo needles. When you’re done there’s art to show and the pain is therapy. That’s more my thing.
EYESTRANE: I hear you have some wonderful news you would like to share. Can you tell us?
KRISTIE: Last month my boyfriend and I got some great news! We found out that I’m pregnant! I’m about three months now and have been painting more than ever. I’m still modeling and there will be some maternity photos popping up soon! Meanwhile, keep an eye out for my modeling and art work in magazines nationwide!
EYESTRANE: Are you excited to be a new mother? Nervous?
KRISTIE: Very excited. I think I’m more nervous about the whole giving birth thing than actually being a mom. I helped raise my nephew and having a little one of my own with the man I love will be amazing.
EYESTRANE: I understand you are vegan. Is this a moral choice or a heath inspired choice? Were you raised this way or did it come later?
KRISTIE: I was never raised to be a vegan, ever since I was a child my mom would hide meat in my veggies to try and get me to eat it, but I always spit it out. Eventually she gave up and let me do my thing (laughs). I’ve recently decided to go from vegetarian to strictly vegan, but now that I’m pregnant, I’m actually back to being a vegetarian. I think milk, yogurt, and cheese are important factors in keeping the baby in my belly healthy.
EYESTRANE: When you are not painting or modeling, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
KRISTIE: I love spending time with my loved ones. My nephew is three and is always looking around for new things to learn and I like to help with that. I also roller skate. I used to compete, but now it’s just for fun.
EYESTRANE: Where can we go to find out more about you and your work?
KRISTIE: You can find me on:
Photo shoot with Aaron Johnson, aka Eyesolo, featuring Kristie, entitled “Angel Wings.”
Kristie’s aforementioned artwork; “Froggy Guy” and “Carousel.” The latter
was inspired from Kristie’s love for the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.