Meet the maker
Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well hello. My name is Carrie Beth, CB, and I am delightfully weird. I am an extroverted introvert who likes colored hair and blue lipstick. I have cellulite and small breasts. My favorite colors are black and yellow. I am the only surviving member of my nuclear family. I love cats and small spoons. My favorite noise is that totally quiet sound after a fresh snowfall when the world is coated in white and completely at peace and I will eat sweets at any given hour of the day.
Tell me a bit about your work and how you began making it.
My work stems from a mostly subconscious place. It represents the sacred bond between mind and body. It all began when I finally figured out my process. My process is deeply meaningful to me as it evolved organically and was a revelation of sorts, to the secrets I kept hidden within my body. I found that through my yoga practice, certain poses kept emerging as I set out to paint. It starts with music, sometimes weed, and movement. In childs pose, I check in with myself. I breathe. I listen. Through movement and rhythm my body tells me what it feels, I simply transcribe this onto paper through bursts of expressive energy. My body of work is an extension of my own body, the attitudes I have towards it, a map for the places where I hide, its triumphs, and its deepest wounds.
Do you have a favorite project or piece that you’ve created?
There are numerous pieces I create and really feel quite attached to. It’s that feeling after I finish a piece, regard it and just feel like I am staring at myself, except it’s this weird ink thing on paper. Those are the pieces I keep. One of my favorites is a piece titled NO VACANCY. She’s hauntingly beautiful and one of those pieces that came out of me like a melody, no thinking or hesitation with the lines, and each stroke was perfect. Her face is vivid in my mind to this day. Despite her beauty her eyes seem empty, she knows she is being regarded yet she has nothing to offer. I painted it shortly after my mother had passed and it may be the only piece of art that fully conveys the contrast of what I truly felt. I know my friends saw me and loved me, but I had no space left in my heart. The piece sold almost immediately.
Can you share with us a few artists or makers that inspire you or your work?
My dear friend, Armando Cabba, is a living artist who inspires me deeply. He is a hyper realist painter who lives in Paris, France with his pug named Buttons. Armie (as I lovingly refer to him) is a mix between DMX, Picasso and perhaps Jonathan Van Ness. He is a broad-shouldered Italian man from Montreal with a cackle that sounds like sunshine and technique that still intimidates me. He don’t take no shit. Not to mention his meticulous facial hair. He moved to Paris and put his balls to the wall, opening up his own Atelier Cabba, where he paints every single day. He is set to give a TED talk about painting next month, received an invitation to Miami’s Art Basel, and has been featured in too many publications for me to be aware of or nonetheless quote. The reason I admire this man is that he is the true definition of an artist. He is consumed by his work, consistently revealing his inner turmoil through a running series of distorted self portraits. The portraits he paints struck me when I regarded them on my first visit to Paris. I stared at them, consumed by them. It’s as if he had captured the living essence of his subject yet here they were, bound by oil and a 2-D surface. It was living art. As for artists of the past, Matisse really wets my loins. I would consider him the quintessential minimalist. The lines of Egon Scheile and Toulouse are haunting. My muse would be Yayaoi Kusama bc she’s wacky and has been for decades and she’s still making at into her 90’s so fuck yes.
What is the hardest part about what you do?
The hardest part about my job is maybe just the general nature of my brain and navigating interactions with people who genuinely do not have any understanding of how and why creating is what it is and/or takes what it takes. I am fully convinced this is absolutely what I am meant to be doing. I don’t have a normal noggin. I wouldn’t consider myself a “normal” person. I am idyllic at times. I am bad with time. I do not respond to emails in a timely manner. Sometimes my orders are brutally late, so this is what I am working on. No one taught me how to be an artist-I am an artist in and of my own right. BUT no one taught me professionalism 101 either.... Deeply conflicted, isolated, and inspired, my outlook on life is at times abstract and based in the fantasy world due my tendency to idealize mostly anything, my future, my lover, what it means to be alive. I don’t have the answers, but I am lucky enough to share my inner workings with the outer world in a way that inspires and provokes people. Mission accomplished. But still fixing a few kinks.
Do you have any advice you’d give a young artist hoping to embark on a creative path?
My advice would be to just not ever give up. Things will look bleak, you might have to do the side hustle for months, likely years, but amen I say to you it is WORTH IT. Creative freedom is a luxury in that this lifestyle truly allows you to transcribe everything that is inside of you and turn it into gold. It’s pure alchemy. It is imitated by many and embraced by the people who weren’t scared enough to turn away from job security, guaranteed health insurance and paid days off. I will never be part of a company that matched my IRA contribution, and I will never be chained to a cubicle with an inbox of 5,763 emails. Actually I do have a ton of emails but hopefully you get the point. Just don’t stop. Also buy the book WAR of ART. It is the creative bible and you should absolutely read it.
What is your workspace like?
FUUUCK my work space is a DREAM. Shortly after my mom passed away I threw all my shit on the curb, moved home for a few months, then eventually crawled back to Charleston, which is where my sunny tree top studio is now. I am lucky enough to live in the fourth floor attic of a historic mansion in downtown Charleston. I don’t know how I got so lucky. My studio is East-West facing, it receives the most bodacious morning light that both my cat and I appreciate. I sleep on one end and my studio is in the perfect nook complete with a writing desk and this badass mirror my landlord brought back from India. The place came furnished. After loosing my nanny job, my mother and going through a bad breakup, the universe sent me a curve ball in the form of a heavenly refuge where I still wake up each morning and am basically like “FUCK I am sooooo lucky.”
What are you working on right now?
Right now I have about 24 small works I am chipping away at. I’m happy to announce my collaboration with Well + Wonder, a delightfully curated online gallery run by Mollie Creason. I am also producing some pieces and designing a powder room wall mural for Paula Rallis, who flips homes, runs an event space AND an interior design storefront in West Greenville. I have three home installations that I am somehow going to squeeze out by the end of May. I love painting peoples walls! I’ll be painting the home of Andrea Serrano (Charleston Shop Curator), Paula’s home and a wonderful natural mamma, Rachel James (Young Living). WHEW!
Do you have any insight or tips for how to write about your work for other artists who may be struggling to do so?
SO my advice for writing about your work is to make sure that you actually have a body of work to start with because if you do, it’s easy. Just describe who you are and why you create. Where does your art come from? What are you trying to say with your art? What is the reason you are doing what you’re doing? If you know your story, it’s easy. If you’re another affluent house wife who picked up a paintbrush, smeared it across canvas and now call yourself an artist then you may struggle with telling others about your work. There are a lot of people (cough cough INSTAGRAM) who legit have over 20K followers on Instagram yet when I look at their body of work its de-centralized, and resembles TJ-MAXX color vomit rather than an articulate, skilled body of work. It takes more than putting paint on canvas to be an artist. IF you are a true artist, writing about your work is as simple as telling your story from an honest place in your heart.
Is your creative work your full time job? If not, can you share a bit about other work you do either full time, part time or on the side?
Here we go. I would argue that I am on paper, a full-time creative though if you were to look at my brain (realistically) I’m maybe 50% a full time artist. For years I had multiple side hustles which included anything and everything from slinging lattes to wiping baby butts. I still wipe baby butts but only as needed if I want some extra cash. Signing a gallery contract with Meyer Vogl has been pretty life changing. Instead of having 3-4 jobs, I now have a fine art business and a textile business which in an ideal world I would devote all my brain and time to. With this said-mentally I struggle to fully immerse myself into the many hats I am wearing. My mental health is a constant battle-I am never the same person from day to day so even though I might have well-planned intentions, they can sometimes be thwarted despite my best efforts to maintain deadlines and meet personal goals. People do not get this, and the ones that do are usually creatives themselves but I have had client issues in the past simply because I am doing too many things all at once. I am still learning. I am always growing, and one day I hope to fully tether the chord of side-gig security so that my brain can properly compartmentalize and maybe I can get my shit together once and for all. To me that would be running my two creative businesses side by side and nothing else for extra income. OH TO DREAM.
If or when you find yourself in a creative rut, how do you get yourself out of it?
So it took me a looooong time to figure this out and if I am being honest, I still fall into periods of inactivity. I’ve found out a few things: I’m one part artist, one part writer and one part comedian. If I am stuck I probably need to write, interpret my dreams and just get all that shit out of my head and onto some paper. I need to laugh, I need to take breaks to create space for joy. Figuring out the source of what’s preventing me from creating is key to being able to create. A lot of times I found that my inner dialogue was basically just plain mean when it came to pep talks or explanations of why I was feeling down. It’s a ton of self-sabotage fueled by fear of failure with intermittent bouts of actual depression. I have mental health issues. I don’t know any artist or human alive that doesn’t. When I am having a bout of depression, I ALLOW myself to feel depressed. I think as a society we are so hyper focused on perfection that negative emotions are seen as something we need to avoid, push down or deny. I let myself be bed ridden for days at a time, I don’t fight it. I am gentle. I tell myself that its ok, that it won’t last forever. It doesn’t feel good. But for awhile that mean voice in my head was the bully on the playground that kept me paralyzed for days and in retrospect, years. Telling myself I am a lazy asshole on a day when I have my period and Mercury is in retrograde is NOT the solution to clearing my obstruction. So my advice is to be a decent human being to yourself. Accept that there will be bad days no matter how many pieces of art you sell or how great your hair looked that one day you saw your crush in your fav east side café.