What To Do… Kerry Pitt-Hart

April 14, 2008

It’s so nice to be back here with you today starting another week of decor8 together. I have about 7 more guests for our What To Do… series, all are ready to share their journey and how they found their calling as a creative type with you. I’ll post 1-2 of these inspirational reads daily this week in addition to plenty of art and decorating related finds that I come across. Prepare to have a lot of reading to do over the next 5 days so I hope you’re ready! :)

What To Do... Kerry Pitt-Hart
Today we’re meeting up with book author, artist, and jewelry designer Kerry Pitt-Hatt who is also a part-time museum educator. I thought it would be good to find a creative lady who also works a more traditional job in addition to her art because I think that for some, this is another great path to take — pursuing your creative side while keeping the career you’re in part-time. This is a long story and though I tried to edit it down I couldn’t bear to remove any part of her journey because it really is quite a story of growth and determination. Kerry, take it away!

What To Do... Kerry Pitt-Hart Work by Kerry Pitt-Hart.

Kerry, how do you think a person can find their spot in the world of design?

Know who you are – take an inventory of your skills – be honest with yourself. Know your craft. Do it well, and if you don’t know how something is done, then learn how. Ask yourself:

* Do you like working with people?
* Or are you more of a solitary person?
* Have you considered spending time with someone who is already doing what you think you’d like to do? Spend a day or better yet, a week with them.
* What is their daily routine like?
* Can you see yourself doing this long term?

Most important, don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Do you feel that you found yours and if so, how did you get there?

I think I have found my calling, though I took a very roundabout path getting here. It all began when my parents decided the best thing for me was to get both a law degree and business degree and to enroll in a 3-3 program, whereby I could get both in six years instead of the normal seven. I clearly recall sitting through a lecture in Management Information Systems 101 and thinking, “What in the hell am I doing here?” After a very emotionally charged phone call to my parents, I forged on to eventually get a degree in Art History, which I am using today, and which informs my art and design.

What happened when you graduated?

I got sidetracked because when I graduated college I desperately needed a job. No one told me I would need at least a Master’s to work as a curator at a museum, so we decided to move to Seattle. If you keep reading this, you’ll know that I/we like to wander and explore. So we packed up our truck with what little we had, and on the way there, naturally, our transmission gave out. We finally did make it to our destination, and being very impractical people, we traded in the truck and somehow managed to buy a brand new one without a permanent residence and without a job. I needed to make that monthly car payment, so I fell into a job working at Microsoft. After working 70 hours week after week, I quickly burned out, and so what better time than to try something new, so we moved to New York. This would not be the last major move. There would be many more change of address forms to fill out and unrelated jobs.

Where did you live in New York and what did you do for work there?

We were in New York City for only 2 1/2 weeks! Yes, weeks! We moved there without a job and without a place to live, so we put our things in a storage unit in Brooklyn, and found a place to stay at the Vanderbilt YMCA on the Upper East Side. Long story, but I’ll never forget our last day there. It was a Sunday morning. I went down to the lobby to book another week, and to sign up for the Harlem Heritage tour. The tiny lobby was filled with what seemed like hundreds of desperate-looking people. Some were crying. Some were yelling. It took me forever to push my way through to get to the counter where I was told they had overbooked the week, and that we would have to check out that day. After recovering from the news, and trying to find another hotel that didn’t cost hundreds of dollars a night, we decided this wasn’t meant to be, and so we rented a moving truck, got our things out of storage, and got on the road that evening and drove West.

Oh my goodness, what a story! So what happened next?

After New York, we took some time to figure out our next move, and so we traveled and then ended up in Seattle. From there, we moved to Chicago, San Francisco, Ashland, Oregon, then ended up in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska, and finally Kansas City where we’ve lived for 2 years now. The jobs I held during this time were in different industries and had considerable responsibility, which prevented me from pursuing my creative interests. This is another reason why part-time works so well for me. I tend to over-commit and finding a balance between work, family, and personal interests can be challenging for me.

Do you think moving around helped you find your path?

I don’t regret any decisions I/we made, but this I do know…I could have gotten to where I am now much sooner if I hadn’t moved around and stayed in one place instead. My husband’s wanderlust will probably never be satisfied, but staying put has allowed me to do what I love and develop a network of caring, inspiring people, because you can’t get there without the support and love from others.

Any words of advice on how to avoid getting sidetracked?

I think I can safely say that if you cut out the distractions, and not let yourself get sidetracked, this will clear time and focus you, for nothing is more important than time. Time to figure it out, to truly know yourself, to get the ideas out of your head, to finish work, and get the word out to others to show them what you’re doing.

Now you’re an artist/designer and art museum educator — does your work as a teacher inspire you?

Yes! Working in a museum that is recognized internationally is incredibly inspiring. Working with kids is more of an outlet for me. I have found that I really enjoy the teaching aspect of it, and showing people what they can do with a little instruction, and then letting them create something of their very own is very rewarding to me.

Why do you do both part-time? Would you ever give up one to pursue the other full-time, or is the balance you currently have necessary and why?

I have too many interests to do one thing all day every day, and will never give up one to pursue the other full-time. If anything, I may also one day end up designing interiors, sourcing OOAK, handmade pieces from artisans around the world and offering them via mail-order, and/or getting a master’s degree in Decorative Arts.

You just self-published a book and you have a flourishing etsy store – do you have any additional plans in the works?

Definitely yes. Short term, I plan to… 1) Along with the prints themselves, I will offer the objects too. 2) Larger sizes. 110 x 16 and 16 x 20. 3) Start a blog. 4) Continue to explore other media. In fact, before I started working on the What To Do… series with you, I was working on plans for the design of a chandelier made of hanks of alabaster glass beads from the 40’s, and was emailing Grand Brass in New York for parts for this.

Do you have any fears?

My one fear is that I will not live as well as I know how. I continue to overcome this fear when it arises, and it does from time to time. Not every day will you have great ideas. Don’t let this stop you. Remain optimistic. Have faith in yourself. Expect great things.

Any additional advice that you’d like to share with us today?

Have a ritual. Get up early. Keep a journal. Get the thoughts and ideas you have in your head out on paper. Take a break midday. Take a walk. Clear your head. Small steps first. With each success, you’ll feel the motivation and determination to make one more. Enjoy every moment.

Thank you so much Kerry for sharing your story!

(image top: altered by me, original photo by Ez at Creature Comforts, bottom image from lush bella)


  • Reply MELANIE April 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm

    I am a huge fan and absolutley LOVE Kerry’s work! Thanks for sharing this.

  • Reply Browningtonforest April 14, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    I love these what to do interviews and hearing about the real life of artists and designers. Thanks for sharing :)

  • Reply oldflowers4me April 14, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    oooohhhhhh-how i just love this girl- kerry and i have become great friends- we may or may not ever meet in human form- but i am so proud of her- we send divine note’s to each other about pages in books or just check out this fantastic flickr or blog-and i love her little collections-thankyou for that friendship-from across oceans-singing and skipping love jo anderson.

  • Reply Anonymous April 14, 2008 at 9:51 pm

    Kerry is such a lovely artist who seems so grounded and authentic in her approach to life and her art. Love her advice.

  • Reply nikiomahe April 14, 2008 at 10:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing…this good for me and everybody els….

  • Reply Brooke April 14, 2008 at 10:56 pm

    I’ve been meaning to comment for a few days, but I wanted to say this is such a great feature you’re doing. It is so nice to read these interviews, not only to get advice and tips from successful design people, but to read how they felt trying to find their way. It’s reassuring to see that other people have felt so many of the thoughts and emotions I’ve had myself.

  • Reply DecorDreamer April 15, 2008 at 2:57 am

    This was great to read. I am in Kansas City myself and I love to here about the local talent!

  • Reply hrsj April 15, 2008 at 3:08 am

    It is so wonderful to see and hear Kerry here; she and her work are lovely and a breath of fresh air. Thank you for this interview with her!

  • Reply Sarah's Fab Day April 15, 2008 at 3:32 am

    I love this series of posts on what to do. I can relate so much to most everything written, just trying to find your place in such a diverse, dynamic field.

  • Reply Kristen April 15, 2008 at 4:43 am

    I really enjoyed reading this! Thanks so much for sharing. It’s very motivational as well as inspirational.

  • Reply Brandie April 15, 2008 at 8:08 am

    Thank you SO much for starting this series. It is really inspiring for a creative wanna-be like myself :)

  • Reply Ramune April 15, 2008 at 1:05 pm

    Thanks for the great interview. I am currently trying to “figure out what to do” because I also have varied creative interests and love traveling. I found the advice part especially helpful as it’s something I keep trying to remind myself. Thanks again!

  • Reply cindy k April 15, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Kerry has such an interesting story and she’s a great example of how to juggle a part-time job with your own creative work.

    I work part-time and it helps keep me connected to other people and on more of a schedule. I also think working in another business provides structure for my own. I’ve learned about all the different areas necessary to thrive beyond creating – accounting, costing, marketing, etc.

    Her point about focus is really key, especially now a days with all of the information out there. It’s easy to get off track.

    I love this series, thanks for sharing.

  • Reply mizu designs April 15, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    That was a great story! Thanks so much for sharing it with us. I completely identify with the part-time aspect of Kerry’s story as it mirrors my own at present. Her words of strength and persistence are very powerful ones.

  • Reply nice-etc April 16, 2008 at 1:16 am

    This series is so wonderful.. I’m thrilled to learn yet more about Kerry and her story is very inspiring. Kerry seems to have a magical balance of modesty, beauty, adventure, confidence, talent, and etc. haha..I’m sure somehow you may understand what I mean. Anyway, thanks for this! I even “made” my boyfriend read it. :)

  • Reply elsie May 5, 2008 at 10:31 am

    hi there. this series is wonderful.through it i learn a lot about myself, what i want to do.
    you know, an art teacher told me anyone can paint/draw. i thought about it, i tried it and yes, i can draw and i like it.than i start blogging and i discovered a lot of people doing what i would like to do(never knowing that you can actually work full time doing this). and my question is: can you earn enough money with it? an etsy shop and a website is enough to earn enough money or you need a shop as well?what are the steps? thanks :)

  • Leave a Reply

    Scroll Up