Tuesday, March 8, 2011

My Interview with Kelly Powers

Creative Catalyst Productions 
Own Video Production Guru
Who was/is your favorite artist to work with in the Creative Catalyst Productions DVD series?
In 2010 I began directing our video shoots, and each artist I've worked with has been amazing. I'm always impressed at how willing artists are to step out of their comfort zone and trust us with their images, their words and their processes. Each artist is incredibly fun because they all work so differently. That is something that unfortunately our DVD viewers can't see. It teaches me that there is no wrong way to approach art.

What type of computer programs to you use to edit video?
We mainly use Final Cut Pro. It's a piece of software my husband (and fellow Creative Catalyst Productions editor) and I have been using since college, and we love it.

What qualities do you look for in an artist who might be featured in an CCP video?
We create teaching videos so first and foremost we look for teachers. Teachers have explained their processes before and really know what parts they need to be clear on and what parts people will generally already understand. We also look for artists who have a distinct style. A beginning artist should be trying on different hats and blending what she's learning into her own voice. A unique, personal style can take years to develop. (And it should take years!) We are looking for artists who know what they want to say and have been perfecting that style for years.

How many hours of video do you typically film to make one instructional DVD?
It changes a lot depending on the artist's process. I am the offline editor, which means I take all the raw footage and cut it down to about two hours of edited before I send it on to my husband Zach. The most raw footage I've ever had was 13 hours of material shot simultaneously on four cameras. That was a technical nightmare but only because of the length. Thank goodness the instructor was so fun to watch.

©Kelly Powers, Trick or Treating Ghosts

What would be your best advice to give any artist who hopes to create their own instructional DVD?
Know why you want to create a DVD. Many artists feel like they need a DVD, but after they've made it they don't want to tell anyone about it. Artists are often worried about being labeled as pushy or self-promotional, and I think that's too bad. You can't believe the response we get at trade shows where people tell us how happy they are to have discovered DVD workshops. So I'd say before you make a DVD, make sure you are ready to tell people about it. You don't have to be tackling people and shoving it in their faces, but let your students know the DVD exists.

Make sure artistically that you are ready for a DVD. If you are still figuring out your style and you haven't yet folded what you've learned from others into a distinct voice, then it's too early in your career to produce a DVD. A DVD, like a book, stamps your name on a process and a style, and if you're still evolving stylistically as an artist, it may be premature.

Lastly, every DVD production company works differently, from royalty payments to production quality. There are a lot of companies doing great things with DVDs, and they are all a bit different, so find one that works for you. Many artists (including my grandmother, Jan Kunz) produce their own DVDs at first. Anyone who has produced their own knows it's a lot of work and can be very expensive. It can be a great option for some artists, but there's a lot of work and risk involved in self-producing.

Creative Catalyst Productions offers DVDs for purchase as well as to rent and view online in a finite time frame. Which is the most common way people choose to view the videos?
The DVDs are still much more popular than the online streaming, but I can see that changing over time. There is something really wonderful about having a physical DVD show up in the mail, but it's also nice to say, "I want to watch this," and have it right there immediately in your home. Our streaming site, ArtWorkshops.tv, is a sister site and many customers may not even realize streaming is an option. We're working to change that in the near future.

Do you ever film your CCP artists live as they are teaching a workshop with students?
We filmed Traci Bautista's DVD, Retro Rags: Funky Fabric Books, and Ann Baldwin's first DVD, Telling Stories with Collage & Paint, live. It was a blast. There is an energy in a live workshop that is unbeatable. Instructors feel very natural in front of a live class as well, and that comes across on film. But after our live experience we realized that our company is better suited for studio filming. There is more we can do with an artist if she only has to worry about us and not making sure that she's also doing a good job meeting the needs of an entire classroom. In a live workshop, her priority should be the students, and we don't want to make that hard for her.

What is it like working with your Mom Lynn and your Dad Jim?
Working with them is very natural. My maternal grandparents (watercolor artist Jan Kunz and her husband Bill) had a company together, and my brother and his wife run a business together. Family business is in our blood. Rarely do children get the chance to interact with their parents outside of a personal child/parent relationship. I feel very lucky to see my parents doing amazing things from the perspective of both a colleague and a mentee. For example, I am constantly amazed by my Mom's sense of art. I grew up while she was working on those skills, but as a child you don't recognize the kind of attention and work it takes to become an artist while taking care of a family. I have an appreciation for her knowledge and skills that I would never have had if I'd gone off to work somewhere else and only saw her on holidays. Seeing my parents in those different roles is one of the best aspects of working in a family business.

©Kelly Powers

What type of art do you create when you are not filming and editing video?
I love acrylics and collage, but I'm still far from having any type of style. I think I'm still in the process that many of our customers are, wondering if what I do actually counts as art. Some days I feel an enthusiastic yes. Other days I feel a less-than-loving no. I designed and made hundreds of fabric flowers for my wedding, and I'm still developing flowers in my spare time. At some point I realized, timidly, that that's kind of my art. I still feel silly admitting that because on some level I'm not sure it counts as art, but it's creative, and I love it. That's the first step in accepting something as your own personal art.

©Kelly Powers, Stanislav The Snowy Owl

I also love making cards and often use the carving techniques I learned from our Gloria Page DVD, Art Stamping Innovations: Carving Workshop. Her time with us changed my life. I used to hate stamps. When I realized you could carve your own, my art changed overnight. My style is nothing like Gloria's, but the technique she taught me fit naturally in to the type of art I love.

Click the links below for examples of Kelly's stamps, card and art.



  1. Just wanted to say that wow! I LOVE your work - found your site through Kelly's interview on her blog. Your collages really inspire me - they are wonderful:) Have Blessed week.


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