We interviewed Kayleen Scott, an Atlanta-based muralist known for her work on some of the city’s hot spots, including Hodgepodge Coffee House, MudFire, Octane Coffee Bar — and now Empire’s newest Kirkwood community, Paintbox.
Empire Communities: Tell us more about who you are, how you began your journey into art, and how long you’ve been creating.
Kayleen Scott: I’m originally from Galveston, Texas; I moved to Georgia when I was five years old. I started living in Atlanta in 2012. When I first moved into the city, I started making and posting wheat paste around to share my work.
EC: How did you go about teaching yourself the ins and outs of mural and acrylic art?
KS: Lots of practice, experiments and YouTube tutorials. Then I worked assisting less-experienced muralists to learn the trade. You truly never stop learning new techniques and building on your work.
EC: When did you first realize that this was something you wanted to make a career out of? What inspired you to become an artist?
KS: I was in my first art show when I was in the first grade, and I’ve called myself an artist ever since. I’ve always loved painting and drawing and took as many art classes I could in middle and high school. I was never good at sports and I had terrible stage fright. Art was the only thing I ever felt I was good at as a child.
EC: Can you tell us about your creative process, particularly in regards to the new mural you’re creating at Empire Paintbox?
KS: It depends on the painting; this mural was all about bright, bold colors and the happiness it brings to the people who see it. When working on such a large-scale wall, you need to do lots of planning and math before you can pick up your paintbrush. The colors I used were selected from Empire’s exterior color palette, to help show the actual future color scheme of the community.
EC: How do you see your murals, like the one at Paintbox, adding to the overall fabric and vibrancy of a community like Kirkwood?
KS: Personally, I’m getting bored with all the neutral tan and grey apartment buildings going up; Paintbox is exciting because its something totally different.
EC: You are also a Kirkwood resident. What’s it like living and working in this community?
KS: Kirkwood is a lively community with lots of incredible artwork decorating the walls. Also, there are so many great restaurants to choose from, including Dulce Vegan Bakery & Cafe.
EC: Are there any artists who inspire you? Any local ones in Atlanta?
KS: I’m inspired by so many Atlanta artists it’s really hard to say! It’s a wonderful mix of inspiration. Shout out to my fellow artist, Aliya Smith, for always making such magic work.
EC: How would you describe the mural scene in Atlanta? Where does your art fit in?
KS: Atlanta is unique and busting at the seams with public art. It’s pretty amazing to see all of the murals and artists working together. My work is very graphic with bold lines and colors; I love seeing abstract artists and representational work side by side, and all working harmoniously together.
EC: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to aspiring artists in Atlanta?
KS: Keep pushing yourself to be the best you can be, even when you face setbacks. If it’s important enough to you, never give up on that dream.
EC: What do you find to be the major benefits of living in Intown Atlanta? Any favourite spots you love to frequent?
KS: I love calling Atlanta home. It’s nice to live in a city where you get all the benefits of urban life but also lots of beautiful green space and outdoor activities. I also like that I can support small businesses, like my favorite coffee shops Hodgepodge Coffeehouse on Moreland and Aurora Coffee in Little Five Points.
EC: Fill in the blanks…
The best part about living in Atlanta is… lots of opportunities to be able to paint murals.
One thing people would be surprised to learn about me is… I’m shy!
In 5 years I see myself… Doing art.
When I’m not creating art, I like to cook, bake and garden in my spare time.
The most rewarding part of my job is… getting to share my work with others.
The most challenging part of my job is… it’s physically exhausting, moving heavy equipment and supplies, climbing up and down ladders in the Georgia heat!
My favorite piece I’ve created is… the flower and knife piece I did last year at Forward Warrior.
Learn more about Kayleen Scott and her artwork by visiting her Instagram page.