Kristina Sutterlin always knew she wanted to be an artist.
“I think everything started the moment I could pick up a pencil, a paintbrush. I have been making art for as long as I can remember, and plan on doing that forever,” Sutterlin said.
As a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Sutterlin decided to choose art education as her major, no matter what the stigmas may be.
“It takes guts to go into something so competitive and ‘unstable,’” Sutterlin said. “I think that arts students should be proud of themselves. It’s the nature of it, in a way. I feel like every artist does have that point where they realize that this is what you are meant to do, and that it is possible to do as a career. You see your own abilities and potential, it is a really important self realization moment.”
Emotions and realistic scenarios influence Sutterlin’s art more than anything else.
“I consider myself almost strictly a painter but I definitely dabble in other mediums of art as well.
I’ve recently been really into photography, I hope to start sharing some of that soon.”
Sutterlin has recently been changing up her style of painting. Up until the last few years, she described her style of painting as realistic, but now, she describes her style as expressive realism. “I have developed that over time, and I’m really into expressive brushwork, stepping away from what I am comfortable with and used to doing.”
With experience, Sutterlin has noticed the challenges that come with being a painter. But with more experience, her art evolved as well.
“It is difficult to expand your skills and what type of art you make if you do not have those technical skills down, so for me it has been really important to paint as much as I can and try out new things,” she said. “In middle school and in high school I was really focused on painting things exactly as they are, and I have swayed from that as time has progressed.”
Sutterlin decided she wanted to be an art teacher early on in her art career.
“I’ve wanted to teach art since probably middle school or elementary school,” she said. “I had a great experience overall. My experience in middle school really stayed with me, and it’s one of the reasons I am leaning towards teaching that age group. I want to provide that amazing experience that I had to students that age as well.”
The way Sutterlin was inspired by her teachers is something that is very important to her. “It’s the most important time to me, to keep students inspired. You become this individual and are discovering yourself and your interests.”
In the past few months, Sutterlin has felt the effects of the pandemic. She had to cancel plans to be a camp councelor for an arts camp in Michigan this past summer. But she says it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
With the camp being canceled and being given this newfound time, Sutterlin worked a job at her hometown and tried to do a 9-5 approach to her art.
“I was really excited to teach these kids and get this experience, but I was like, ‘You know what? It’s the summer and I have all this time, why don’t I just make a LOT of art?’ I think it was all in the mindset for me. To me, if I wanted to come out with content I was super proud of, I have to put in the work and treat it like a job. Putting in that time is the key to growing your art style.”
This approach allowed Sutterlin to create a lot of art. “Finding those positives through this really weird time has been really important to me,” she said.
As a young artist with social media access and a platform, it can be hard to manage creating art and sharing it. Sutterlin said she has been taking a different approach to her social media account and being open with her followers.
“I’ve pushed myself to be vulnerable online in ways I haven’t previously been. Of course I am going to post my work, but also just tapping into your process and giving an insight into what a piece is about or means to me. Talking about the good days and the bad days has become really important for me to do on my platform.”