In a series of interviews, we want to capture the energy of the moment as we shift to a Virtual First world. We had a chat with Kris to learn how he’s staying creative and navigating the current work–life landscape. Here’s what he had to say:

What’s your story?

The summer after first grade, I visited my aunt, who was an elementary school teacher at the time. I remember rifling through the school paper closet and bringing stacks of paper home, to the dismay of my parents. I loved paper, but I also went through it like crazy. I drew a lot growing up, and I vividly remember my perfectionist neuroses developing early on. Even then, creativity was water; I gravitated to music, drawing, writing, and eventually making stuff on computers.

I really owe my journey to internet forums and niche creative communities that I discovered in high school; back then, Dribbble was a much different place, and Twitter was more of a virtual watering hole for whatever you were interested in. It was there I fell into design, and that prompted me to go to school for it. If I look at today, my career is still very much evolving; I don’t believe I’ve even come close to scratching the surface of what else I want to grow into, because I’m still experimenting. Right now, it’s typeface design, portraiture, and producing zines/books. Who knows what else it’ll be in the future? My goal is to have an art show at some point. So I feel there’s still a lot of room for me to grow, personally.

In a time of crisis, how do you maintain your creative practice?

My practice has always been somewhat sporadic and particularly sensitive to what’s happening around me. If I had to guess, one strategy that’s helped has been to give myself the space to make (and not make) things organically, as opposed to scheduling time or forcing it to happen.

Photo by Kris Mendoza
Photo by Kris Mendoza

How has quarantine changed your approach?

I’m more aware of how the current situation can or should influence my craft, and how to say what I want to say. Now, more than ever, art offers people a different way of experiencing the reality in which they live, so why not connect with that?

Kris standing in front of a house

Photograph by Chris Behroozian

Kris wearing a black mask

Photograph by Chris Behroozian

What new strategies have you developed to stay creative during COVID-19?

I’m not sure if this is new, but keeping up with what other creative people are doing is a big motivator for me. Learning about things in different industries like fashion, architecture, and film helps fill a creative well that I can draw from later on.

As collaborative work comes online, how are you working with fellow artists?

I’ve stuck with simple means of collaborating, like sending screenshots via text message. I find that it’s still the quickest way to get my ideas across, and gives most everyone I work with a place to do the same.

Anxiety is running high right now. What do you do to stay sane?

I make it a point to establish boundaries and focus most of my energy toward things I can control. Most of it is time and energy management, which I’ve usually been lax about. But now, how “available” I am is a function of how much energy I have to give. I have to go to greater lengths now to keep work and life separate. This involves limiting how long I’m on Twitter, how long I spend dreaming up ideas without putting them to use, and how often I acquiesce to another social Zoom call. Energy is precious and scarce; protecting it is how I keep afloat.

Woman watering the grass, looking into camera

What do you think the future of work looks like?

My hope is that the future of work isn’t necessarily about the work itself but rather the human quality we took for granted pre-COVID. Being able to feel connected is an important part of any collaborative environment. While it’s amazing that we’re able to project our faces into our colleagues’ living rooms, it’s exacerbated a feeling of always being “on.” Ironically, we’re exhausted—instead of energized—by the prospect of another virtual hangout. Hopefully soon, we’ll find a way to meaningfully address this.

Who inspires you right now?

In the political sphere, I’ve been inspired by the efforts of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, Charles Booker, and Ilana Glazer to get out the vote this election. Photographers whose work I’ve been constantly paying attention to are Tyler Mitchell and Micaiah Carter. I also really love Chaz Bear’s (aka Toro y Moi) paintings and other creative projects he’s done for his Company Studio. In the fashion scene, Simon Porte Jacquemus recently released beautiful collections for Jacquemus FW 2020 and SS 2021. Lastly, Kerby Jean-Raymond came out with stunning designs for the Pyer Moss Collection 3 campaign that I thoroughly enjoyed.

How can we use creativity for good?

Whatever your medium is, you have a unique perspective and interpretation that you bring to your craft. Build a community around whatever it is you do, and create opportunities for other people to learn and build their craft, too. Share your gifts.

men lying on grass

Have you found any special moments of humanity during this time of crisis?

The protests against systemic racism and police brutality (that are still happening, by the way) are a great example. Seeing how many people show up and embracing the part we all play in making change happen (during a pandemic, no less) is testament to the power we have as individuals.

What are you listening to or watching?

Punisher by Phoebe Bridgers, on repeat.

What is your apartment/workspace like?

Functional. It’s vaguely Scandinavian, with houseplants and design ephemera scattered everywhere.

Kris standing in the streets wearing a black mask

Photograph by Chris Behroozian

Have you given yourself a haircut yet?

My roommate and I gave each other haircuts a month into quarantine. Turns out being a designer doesn’t make haircutting easy, but it actually worked out well.

Have you found new ways of taking care of yourself or combating anxiety?

For my physical health, I’ve made a conscious effort to drink more water, since I haven’t always been good at doing so. I’ve also been devoting less energy to social media.

Which local businesses are you supporting?

Photoworks for all of my film-developing needs. Modern Appealing Clothing for menswear. I signed up for a monthly wine membership at Ruby Wine. Matching Half for coffee. And my therapist, if that counts.

Kris flipping through a magazine
Kris holding magazine and looking down at it
Kris looking into camera, holding magazine

Images in order from top to bottom: undefined, Chris Behroozian; undefined, Chris Behroozian; undefined, Chris Behroozian.

How are you connecting with the people in your life?

Usually FaceTime/Zoom calls. If they’re more local, I try to meet them somewhere outdoors, responsibly.

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