At gorjana, we strive to immerse ourselves into the culture of the communities we join. In the past, we’ve done this by partnering with local charities and eating at a lot of local restaurants (lol). This time, we're partnering with local artists to co-create one-of-a-kind murals.
Our newest location at Bethesda Row presented a unique opportunity - a blank exterior wall. We instantly envisioned a mural, and set out to find a local artist who could make our dream come true. We were lucky to meet Kasey O'Boyle Ott, a local artist and teacher at neighboring girls' school Holy Child.
In the midst of wedding planning and the beginning of a new school year, Kasey made time to work on our massive canvas with the help of some of her students.
We couldn't be more pleased with the outcome. We sat down to with her to chat inspiration, secret talents, and everything in between.
Tell us about your start as a creative. When did you know you wanted to pursue art full time (or how did you become a muralist, if applicable)?
Art was “my thing” from a young age and my parents were supportive and encouraging. My major in college was Art History and Painting, and when I graduated, I had no idea what I was going to do. I worked in restaurants and also a coffee shop and I made paintings on the side. Then, I responded to an ad on Craigslist to complete a mural on someone’s ceiling in her basement. Then she asked me to do a wall in her garage. It was exciting, kind of like doing a cannon ball into a freezing cold pool or ripping off a band aid; I just went for it and the rest is history!
What do you see as an artists’ role in their community?
We’re like an undercurrent or a heartbeat. And making murals helps fortify a sense of place as well as identity. Artists are experts at making connections which helps solve problems in addition to creating authentic experiences for people in the community.
Tell us about the With Love From Laguna mural.
The With Love From Laguna mural at the Bethesda store incorporates flower and leaf motives that are inspired by the flower arrangements in the store. We utilized a vibrant, sun-drenched Laguna-inspired color palette. The organic lines and shapes are my signature style.
When creating a mural, do you pre-sketch or let it flow? What’s your creative process?
I keep a personal sketchbook where I constantly practice drawing and making compositions. When creating a mural, I create a digital sketch and share it with everyone who’s involved and ask for feedback. Then, we tweak it here and there, until it’s just right. Having a predetermined plan saves time, money, and energy. It's not the most romantic version of a process, but it helps keep things professional.
Who or what is your biggest inspiration and why?
My sister, Erin. She’s five years older than me so growing up I always wanted to keep up with her...which was a large undertaking since she’s driven, intelligent, athletic, and kind. Erin takes on life’s challenges with such grace and I’ve been lucky to watch and learn from her.
I enjoy cooking and I’m working on my knife skills. So a secret talent of mine is mincing garlic by hand.
Words to live by?
In recent years, I’ve really enjoyed reading books by Brene Brown. She shares the phrase, “Strong back, soft front, wild heart.” To me this means in order to be a decent person and enjoy life, you are hardworking, kind to others, seek novelty, and take healthy risks.
What are you looking forward to in the next year?
I recently got married! So, I’m looking forward to spending time with my husband.
Lastly, what gorjana piece are you currently loving?
Where can we follow you?
Assisted by Cory Bernat @1goodpotato