Interviews

Off Duty: Abstract and Figurative Painter, Kristen Giorgi

Written By James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by: The Bleu

I was first introduced to 30-something, fine art painter, Kristen Giorgi‘s artwork through one of my favorite lingerie brands The Great Eros. A beautiful postcard with a female silhouette accompanied one of my orders and I kept it. In fact, it’s currently living just above my vanity mirror, so I see it first thing every morning. Months later, by happenstance, I stumbled across Kristen online and immediately knew two things: 1.) I had to invite her for an interview, and 2.) I needed to hang one of her life-sized paintings in my living room asap! The first task was easy, she accepted my invite and off to Atlanta I went. The second is still in the works, and is topping my “Dear Santa” wishlist.

I was extra excited to have my daughter along with me on this particular shoot because she is an artist, as well, and I knew she would be in awe of Kristen’s work. I was expecting greatness when we arrived at Kristen’s ATL home thanks to the few interior photos I had seen via her Instagram, but it was even better in person and I was (and remain!) completely smitten as she walked us through the front door. The apartment was soaked with light and perfectly pieced together with a mix of unique, oversized artwork and thoughtful decor. Not only does Kristen have an inspiring creative vision for art, she also has a fine eye for interior design and I left our session that afternoon with a lofty goal to redesign my interior house — if only I could afford to hire her as my designer — a dream! We spent our time together talking about her deep passion for art, where she finds the incredible, one-of-a-kind pieces that furnish her home, life’s trials and beauties, and a mutual love for fostering creativity, fashion, and good cocktails, which we’ll be meeting up for next time I’m in town. Now each day when I look up at my tiny postcard, I smile. Get ready to be majorly influenced — #interiorgoals are coming your way, this one’s a true beaut!!

Dress by Rixo.
Dress by Rixo.

Shop Kristen's Look

How do you typically spend a day off when you’re not working?  “Days off usually include going to grab a fun lunch with a friend or going to visit a shop I haven’t been to in a while, or just sitting on my sofa trolling the Internet for furniture or researching my next travel destination.”

Do you sleep in on your days off?  “Never. I have the worst guilt about sleeping in. I always feel like I am wasting the day away!”

How many times (if any) do you hit snooze?  “[Laughs] Well, in the morning before I have to drop my daughter [Vivienne] off at school, I usually hit it like three times. It’s actually much easier for me to get up early on a day off.”

What’s the very first thing you do when you wake up?  “I head straight to the kitchen for coffee!”

What’s on your bedside table?  “Oils for my dry skin, a book, and always a full bottle of water.”

What’s the story behind your home and how long have you lived there?  “I moved here after my divorce three years ago. I wanted to be close to my daughter’s school. I found the listing on Craigslist. It was the first place I went to look at and without hesitation signed the lease immediately. I hope I never leave, I love it so much.”

Please name a few favorite things that you cherish in your home.  “A custom dining table that I designed and had a guy in Alabama (who does plaster work) build. I love having a vision for an item that I can’t find out there and making it come to life. Also, a painting I purchased from my dear friend Zack Abernathy, an artist based in Brooklyn. I am a collector and hope to one day have a home so full of artwork that one might argue it is actually a museum. The art of trade is such a beautiful thing, and I am so happy to have linked to so many artists where we get the opportunity to do so. The piece itself is a beautiful linear / color study, about 50 by 70 inches. The piece currently resides above my bed, but I am always moving my pieces all around the house. Finally, my solid marble coffee table. I found it five years ago in a corner of this antique store. It was $200, so heavy, and quite the ordeal to get home, but every time I post it on Instagram, I break a thousand hearts and people ask where I got it.”

What’s the process like searching for vintage furnishings?  “I am constantly searching for vintage pieces for my home. Mostly because I am so fickle and like to switch things out all the time! I try to frequent my favorite spots in Atlanta, as they don’t always post all of their new pieces on Instagram. I try to stop in at least every two weeks or so. I also frequently check sites like 1stdibs and The Real Real.”

Tell us about the art in your home.  “I put up some works of mine for this feature, but currently have only works by artist friends that I have done trades with. As I mentioned before, I am so grateful to be able to build my art collection by trading with other artists of this time.”

Painting by Kristen.
Painting by Kristen.

Where do you find / shop for home decor? CB2, 1stdibs, The Real Real. Locally City Issue, Decades Antiques, Highland Row Antiques, ADAC, and Chanblee.”

Any favorite, must-read books?Only Love Is Real.”

Favorite Netflix series / movies? Love, Dead to Me, Master of None, Narcos, and Pen15 on Hulu.”

Any good podcasts you recommend?  “Anything on Goop, Absolutely Not with Heather Mcmahan, and Tara Brach’s meditation series.”

Print by Riccardo Vimercati.
Print by Riccardo Vimercati.

Coffee table books, art books, and magazines you love?  “I constantly refer back to my coffee table books for inspiration: Chloe (Rizzoli), Mirror of Venus by Wingate Paine, a collection of nude photography circa the 1960s. I’m also addicted to Architectural Digest and Elle Decor.”

Favorite candles?  “Diptyque Tubereuse, Boy Smells, and Byredo Burning Rose.”

What are your hobbies?  “Fitness — yoga, pilates, and group fitness! Makeup — I am always playing and experimenting. And, interior design and styling.”

Night in or night out? How do you spend it?  “A night in looks like lighting candles and flipping through coffee table books with wine in hand and great music. Night out is anywhere with friends that make me laugh so hard my abs are screaming the next day.”

Song currently on repeat? ‘Right Down the Line’ by Gerry Rafferty.”

Signature scent?  “D.S. & Durga Atlantic Rose.”

Dress by Zimmerman.
Dress by Zimmerman.

Describe your personal style / style philosophy.  “My personal style is mostly minimal. I love tailoring; it really makes huge difference in looking polished and put together. I also really pay attention to proportions. I think learning how to dress for my figure has defined my style. I love black and white with a bit of nude. I love blazers and silk skirts.”

What’s the one thing in your closet you would save in a fire?  “A Chloe shearling coat that I bought on The Real Real. It was $8000 and I bought it for $800. I felt it was the steal of the century, and I will wear it until I die.”

Your first fashion splurge?  “An old Céline luggage tote I splurged on while in Paris about ten years ago.”

Zack Abernathy painting.
Zack Abernathy painting.

What do you wear when you’re spending the day comfortable, at home, and off duty?  “Yoga pants and a sweatshirt.”

Who, what, where inspires your style the most?  “I have a few style muses. I love Rosie Huntington Whiteley and Kelly Wearstler. I love how her personal style and her work life all intersect. She truly is a brand as a person. Also, Athena Calderone.”

What are three things on your want list?  “A pair of Bottega Venetta heels, a Carol Leskanic – Amy Meier table lamp, and a gold Kahn chain from Haati Chai.”

Gold earrings by Zara. Blue earrings by Marni.
Gold earrings by Zara. Blue earrings by Marni.

Your five wardrobe staples, go…  “Anine Bing blazer, Mother high-waisted denim, heels from By Far, a black silk midi skirt from Free People, my vintage Journey tee, and a black leather vintage motorcycle jacket with my art painted on the back — oops that was six!”

Favorite designers / brands and why?  “Cult Gaia. I love their playful, sculptural designs. Each piece feels like art. Zimmermann for the ultimate feminine feel. If you want to feel like you just stepped off the plane and into the southern coast of Italy, shop here. Rachel Comey because the fit is always very tailored and the patterns and silhouettes are fun. Chloe is a major splurge go-to of mine, but always chic and has the feel of a ’70s vibe — my favorite era. Finally, Aritzia. When I go to the store in NYC, I can literally be in there for three hours. They have so much and always a million pieces I want. The quality is outstanding for the price.”

Very favorite online shop?  “The Real Real.”

If you could raid one person’s closet (dead or alive), whose would it be and why?  “It would definitely be Kelly Wearstler. She always has so many unique pieces. She is not afraid to dress fun. Somehow, it never comes across as clownish. It’s always chic.”

Your favorite clothing stores in Atlanta?  “I don’t really shop in Atlanta. I only buy online.”

Dresses or jeans?  “Fifty-fifty.”

Heels or flats?  “Heels.”

Vintage or new?  “New.”

Breakfast / brunch of choice?  “Either gluten-free toast and a fried egg or Greek yogurt with blueberries.”

Coffee or tea? How do you take it?  “Coffee with just a bit of oat milk.”

Favorite local cup?  “Octane at the High Museum.”

Fave cookbooks?  “I don’t really follow recipes. I just usually experiment with pretty simple ingredients. I have always had a pretty sensitive digestive system, so the more simple and nutritious I keep it, the better!”

Your go-to dinner recipe when at home?  “My go-to dinner is so simple. White fish baked and doused with salt, pepper, olive oil, and lemon. I usually bake it at 400° for 20 minutes. Then, crispy asparagus. Put it in the oven with the fish, the same salt, pepper, and olive oil, plus chili flakes and parmesan. Finally, quinoa. I usually buy the bagged kind that you can pop in the microwave — voilà!”

Favorite local restaurant and your go-to order?  “I love to go to Bar Taco with Vivienne. We both order the kids taco tray!”

Regular Postmates / takeout order? Zoës Kitchen. I always get the chicken skewers with a Greek side salad and braised white beans.”

Any supplements you take / magic elixirs you make or swear by?  “Yes! Magnesium, ginger, B3, dandelion, and this new mixture by The Nue Co.”

Any most-loved kitchen gadgets? “I use the most simple kitchen appliances, but I love my Nespresso machine!”

How do you stay active? Do you work out?  “I usually workout seven days a week. Mostly, three days of really intense workouts like a HIIT class, pilates, and boxing. Then, the other days it’s walking or yoga.”

What does self-care look like for you when you’re off duty?  “Definitely a massage followed by a glass of wine and a book.”

You decide to treat yourself, how do you indulge?  “Eat all the ice cream and pizza!”

Dress by Olivia Rubin.
Dress by Olivia Rubin.

Tell us a bit about what you do.  “I’m an abstract and figurative painter. I make my living by selling my work throughout the U.S. and worldwide. Much of my work is commissioned-based meaning collectors and designers will commission me to paint pieces for specified spaces in a home, office, or business. Recently, I have been applying my creative skills into other industries — home goods and jewelry to name a couple.”

Did you always want to be an artist?  “Yes, and I like to have use the term loosely because I don’t just paint. I feel I put artistry into everything I do. I’m really trying to create a brand.”

Who / what has been your biggest inspiration?  “I feel lucky to be surrounded by a network of women that are all out there killing it. I think the network of female entrepreneurs is strong and non-competitive. We all hold each other up and inspire one another.”

Painting by Kristen.
Painting by Kristen.

Are there any other amazing artists you admire?  “Many of the artists I admire are from the ’60s — Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, and of course, the sculptor Brancusi. I have a tattoo of a Brancusi sculpture on my forearm.”

What does a typical work day look like?  “I walk straight from bed to make coffee. The day starts with emails and a bit of meditation. Then, I usually go workout. My actual work day doesn’t usually start until around noon. My assistant sits with me while I paint, and we discuss the commission schedule and she goes through all of the open business. I pick up my daughter from school at five and that is when the work day stops.”

Your typical work lunch?  “I usually have a smoothie or something small. I really only eat breakfast and dinner.”

Tell us about your process. How does a painting come to life?  “I sketch a lot. I am not one to just start painting out of nowhere. It’s usually a buildup starting from a small idea that evolves. It takes a while to go there, but when I do, it all comes together and makes sense.”

Keys to productivity?  “My productivity comes from me manifesting things I want. I visualize it, and the process just flows.”

Can you tell us how you remedy being in a creative funk? What puts you back on track?  “Taking a trip!”

Any advice to other women looking to make a career out of their art?  “Be patient. You can’t expect things to happen too fast. Good things will come if you have a clear vision and manifest, manifest, manifest.”

Any exciting news or projects on the horizon?  “Yes! I’m about to launch a small jewelry collection with a brand out of Los Angeles, Haati Chai. The pieces are so special. I am extremely excited!”

How can one purchase a painting?  “All collectors are instructed to inquire within, so sales are done privately through me.”

Written by: James Kicinski-McCoy

James Kicinski-McCoy is the 40-something Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Bleu. She likes tequila, picks fights with her husband so she can have the bed to herself, and is trying to figure out that work / life balance.

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