Where does inspiration come from? Ask the ancient Greeks and they’d point you to the muses—goddesses with the role of inspiring artists, writers, and scientists.
Today we meet Krystal Becker, a modern-day muse (or art model) and an artist herself. Meeting Krystal in person, you’d be unsurprised artists are drawn to her. Her retro features and style are stunning and one gets the sense that she has somehow emerged out of a different time. But despite having been the centerpiece of paintings and photographs, Krystal is somehow completely grounded, even modest about her past, with an offbeat humor she used to write a zine about how to get abducted by an alien. Seriously, how can you not be inspired by this person?
I asked Krystal to share some thoughts around the topic of inspiration.
How did you get involved in being an art model? What was the experience like?
In my mid-twenties, I decided I didn’t want to only be an admirer of pictures, I wanted to live in them as well. Most of my art modeling was in collaboration with fine art photographers. The thrill of going on adventures with these brilliant artists, and having them reveal themselves through me, was intoxicating. When I see the photos, paintings, or film I’m in, I don’t quite recognize myself. I mostly see the artist. It’s interesting, I remember an artist that I’ve worked with more than a dozen times telling me that he could never seem to create an image that mirrors how he sees me. I think that’s because he would see an amalgamation of him and me in the photograph.
Edith Lebeau in particular often uses your image her art. What is that relationship like?
Edith is a beautiful human and an absolute pleasure in every way. Because we live far away from each other, I cannot physically sit for her, so we improvise. She tells me, or shows me through images, which poses she’s searching for and I’ll provide photographs of myself in that pose. A few weeks later, I’m presented with an amazing painting. Again, the paintings, for the most part, reveal Edith, not myself.
What do you think artists get out of working with you or other art models? Do you think that the inspiration comes from a model’s look, personality, or something else?
I’m not really sure as I don’t work with models. I think it may just be a simple thing like they’re attracted to that model. It’s all very magical if you think about it. All throughout your life you’re attracted to different people, falling in like with them without even speaking with them. Then it turns out, once you get to know them, that they were perfect for you. That’s been the case in every artist/model relationship I’ve had. They’ve all been gifts in my life.
What was your most interesting experience as an art model?
There are so any! I’d have to say when a photographer [uncredited per request] put me in a men’s tuxedo. I had never crossdressed before and I found it exhilarating! The photos from that photo shoot are still my favorite photographs of me. They remind me of Alfred Hitchcock film stills.
You are an artist yourself. Where do you find inspiration?
That changes all the time for me. Currently, I find it in shapes and color. I’ve just finished a series of abstracts. I had never worked like that before: with zero premeditation. The paintings painted themselves really. I found it incredibly freeing. There wasn’t the pressure that realism evokes.
Do you ever struggle with feeling inspired? What do you if that happens?
Yes, of course. I just show up consistently. I play and experiment when I don’t have ideas. I’ve found that some of my favorite works were born in that in-between time. I also think it becomes more and more difficult to return to creating after long hiatuses. So yeah, always show up.
What advice do you have for a young or new artist?
Just enjoy it and have fun, don’t take art or yourself too seriously. I heard a great line the other day. It went something like, “Life is two numbers with a dash in the middle. Make the most of your dash.” Don’t spend your dash being hard on yourself or comparing yourself to others or sabotaging your own creative exploration with self-loathing.
If you had to describe what inspires you in one word, what would it be?
You can find Krystal’s artwork and get linked to her Etsy shop where you can find her zine, “How to Get Abducted by Aliens” at krystalbecker.com. You can also follow her on Instagram at krystal.becker.
If you live in the Ventura, CA area and want to see Krystal’s artwork exhibited, check out, Back to the Future—on display at the NAMBA Arts Center from Jan 21 through Mar 5, and Defying Doyen—a collection from a small group of contemporary artists on display at Atrium Gallery from Jan 27 to Feb 28 (formal reception: Fri, Jan 27 from 5:30-7p).
Next up in the series, many of us get inspired by taking photos of travel, but actually turning it into a career takes a whole lot of work. I interview Megan Snedden, a travel photographer and journalist for publications such as National Geographic Traveler, BBC, and Huffington Post.
To learn about the Inspiration and Perspiration series, check out Where do ideas come from?
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That’s a wrap! Until next time, nerds.