INSPIRED by late summer sunlight, Remote is an intimate expression of solitude, longing, and painfully strange beauty of a season spent with oneself.
Emily McAlister LaCivita: We’ve collaborated on projects in all different kinds of workspaces and environments. How do you see your role as a female creative in a still predominantly male industry? How do you envision it evolving?
Katie Beasley: Man, I hope I can just be a strong representation of women in the industry. We don’t need to work on women-specific projects to make amazing work, we don’t need a male creative director hovering over us to make sure we’re getting the job done. I hope to build a portfolio that reflects these facts. The more of us there are, the more control we have over our narrative, and future opportunities.
EML: Yes! Being in charge of those stories and telling them ourselves is so important. I remember we once worked alongside a man, in leadership, who suggested using pairs of different types and sizes of literal fruit as a concept for a sports bra campaign. I like to believe we’re working towards a day where those gross reductionist ideas of advertising towards women are fully laid to rest.
EML: Here’s another topical one: How have you found ways to be creative during a global pandemic? Where do you find
KB: For my personal projects, I’ve been finding both motivation and inspiration after a glass or two of wine! Hah… When the emotions are triggered, or when I find myself wanting to hug my best friends. The projects during this time have been deeply connected to friendships and connections in general. I’ve almost felt a sense of nostalgia for a time that is only a few months in the past. My most recent project, Touching Arms, was me, drunk at home, writing about how much I miss sitting too close to friends at a table, squishing in to make sure everyone fits; our arms touching and no one thinking twice about it. Then we made a photo project around it.
KB: What about you? Working from home during the pandemic, what in particular has pushed you to create new work and
not stay stagnant?
EML: There was something about the COVID era, about having all this opportunity suddenly wiped off the table, that pushed me to work that much harder for what I wanted. I’d felt a lot of momentum in my career and practice before the shutdown, and like everyone felt that the rug had been yanked out from underneath me. After grieving that initial loss, I eventually decided that I wasn’t going to stop moving forward just because the paying gigs had vanished. I knew I loved what it is I do, but I didn’t fully realize how much until I found myself lying awake at 4 am, figuring out design solutions for work that no one was asking for, and that no one might ever see. So, to answer your question, I guess the answer is… ambition? The love of the game? A little bit of both.
EML: In an industry as competitive as ours, we’ve learned that ambition and grit are essential. How do you marry those traits with collaboration and camaraderie?
KB: Ambition, to me, means that I’m always seeking out the best opportunities, and doing the best job that I can during the duration of any project. Doing a great job often means collaborating, and ensuring that every voice is heard. Grit comes into play when I’ve got to fight for the integrity of my idea, while still being respectful and collaborative. Putting my foot down, and fighting for what I believe needs to happen. Ha! What a balancing act.
KB: Being a creative professional often means competing with others to get a concept chosen by a client, or perhaps constantly comparing our own work and processes to that of others. What advice would you give yourself or others to remain confident and motivated in the industry, especially when so many people are out of work and feeling like they’re not good enough?
EML: Is it cliché to say to lean on each other? Put time and love into your friendships with your industry peers. No one else better understands what you’re up against. Friends in general are of course important, but having a support system that also inspires, challenges, and elevates you as a creative is so important. Their successes will bring you joy, and also push you to work harder or look at things a new way. Trusting each other especially during these… challenging.. times, confiding in your shared anxieties and propping each other up… Our friendship has certainly been that for me. Knowing I wasn’t alone gave me a lot of perspective and strength. And to be fully transparent, therapy; or some kind of introspective mindful practice. Loving and knowing who I am has, without doubt, led me to create better work, because I actually believe in myself and what I have to offer. And to really understand that not every rejection is personal.
KB: What has been your most humbling moment been creatively or professionally?
EML: All of it? Ha. I don’t know, I think I’m humbled by a wide spectrum of things. Being laid off is extremely humbling. Receiving shitty feedback, being passed over on a promotion, or being the designated PowerPoint designer is humbling. Leading creative for a multi million dollar photoshoot is humbling in an entirely contrary way. I guess all you can do is be grateful for how it all shapes you, both the good and the otherwise.
Detroit Pistons Tee, vintage. Skirt, vintage.
KB: What is the most important thing our relationship has given you, creatively?
EML: I have so many answers to this question; what first comes to mind is confidence. I grew up in the Midwest in a traditional environment and moved to Portland when I was 22. The creative scene and the city itself was so foreign and intimidating. Working alongside someone who at least on the surface seemed so different from who I was then, and forming such a real friendship made me feel less like an outsider and finally at home. From there it became easier and easier to grow into who I really wanted to be and make the work I believed in as a result. Okay, now that I’m crying, what about you?
KB: Stop! You’re the best sounding board a girl could ask for. I could come to you with a visual, an idea, a topic to complain about, and you’re there with open arms and ears. Ready to see through my typos, and jump on whatever bandwagon I’m excited about, frustrated, or infatuated with. It really helps pump me up.
KB: We’ve both worked at AD agencies, huge brands, and smaller little creative shops – moving forward, where do you see yourself landing? Why?
EML: I’d like to land a few places first, but eventually I want to lead a small shop or team. I really enjoy the camaraderie and intimacy I’ve experienced in smaller places, and I think it’s a better environment for focusing on creativity and growth. Having a hand in all aspects of the work, instead of being relegated to a specific task or client, is something I value. I’d love to use what I’ve learned to elevate a really diverse team, especially those whose voices haven’t resonated as loudly as they should have in the past such as women, people of color, and other marginalized folks. I truly believe in the revolutionary power of design, and you can’t exactly have a revolution on your own.
KB: When someone looks at this project, what is the one thing you hope they see in it?
EML: I hope they see something of themselves. I hope they feel the shared complexity of this bizarre human condition we’re all existing in, and recognize it within their own experience.
KB: Okay, last and arguably most important: From sharing a basket of wings, to working on a Coachella campaign, we’ve done a lot of both crazy and mundane things together. What’s your favorite Katie+Emily memory?
EML: There’s a joke here about not being able to remember all our crazy and mundane adventures, but for my mom’s sake we’ll skip it. Dancing in the back of a moving pickup truck with a life size cardboard cutout of The Rock is a nice one. Getting to see SZA and Beyonce together at Coachella, (and waking up to work 5 hours later) is another. For me, it’d have to be whatever kind of performance art we did on the dance floor at my wedding in Detroit. Having you there that day made my heart so insanely full; I was so moved by the arc of our friendship. Coworkers, then collaborators, to true friends. Now you!
KB: Throughout all of the 5-star restaurants, photoshoots, and wrap parties – I love Monday mornings the most. When I’m starting my work week, and one of us sends the other a text. My virtual coworker and constant supporter. A moment of consistency in my inconsistent life. My forever shoulder to lean on.
Blue Sweatpants, Last Heavy, @lastheavy.
White Lace Blouse, vintage Dior
Ivory Short Sleeve Button-Up, vintage
White Hoodie, Double Rainbouu, @double_rainbouu
Print Dress, Zara @zara