Artist Name: Xee Reiter
What do you consider yourself? Artist, illustrator, painter, designer, other?
I am a visual artist. There isn’t a resolute focus when it comes to what form of art I create. I am my own variety show. I do a little of everything.
What kinds of work do you currently do or what kinds of projects have you done in the past?
I work simultaneously on multiple projects, shifting between mediums. I use primarily watercolor and ink but I’ve also dabbled with digital although it’s not my favorite. When I started actively practicing art again about six years ago, I did henna body art at local fairs and festivals. Throughout the years, I’ve completed artwork for non-profit organizations, taken commissions such as designing a CD cover, painted a collaborative mural for the Minnesota Museum of American Art and showcased my work at exhibitions around the Twin cities.
Could you talk about how you got into art or doing what you do today? What’s your story? What made you want to pursue this path? Were there any challenges you had along the way?
I couldn’t tell you when art wasn’t an integral part of my life. I’ve been obsessed with drawing people and faces before I even started grade school. As a kid, my dream was to become a fashion designer. That dream fizzled away when I realized that I was too poor to afford labels, my small-town mentality would not survive the big city at the time and suddenly, the idea just seemed so unrealistic. As a child, you think more about the glitz and glam. As a more developed child (adult), you think more logically about how to get from point A to point B.
Did you attended art school or majored/minored in Art or Design in college? If so, what were your experiences with it and did you think it helped you become a better artist? If you did not attended college or attended but did not majored in anything art-related, what helped pushed you to pursue art or improve your craft?
With the encouragement of my high school art teachers and the pressure to invest in a career, I attended one semester of college for my associates in art. My best laid plan thereafter was to attend an accredited art college. I found that I hated it. I wanted to get my hands dirty. I felt compelled to create art in a large studio with high ceilings, not sit in a stuffy classroom to learn math that would barely help me calculate the interest owed on future student loans. The renegade in me fled the scene including the small town I was living in at the time. I have no regrets. If I were to attend college now, it would be for business or economics. That’s not to discourage others to strive to achieve their dreams by way of academics.
How do you balance art with work and life? How do you make time for art?
I am an artist and I have a full time corporate job. Both are not mutually exclusive. To further stir up the chaos, I am also a mother of three so balancing my time can definitely be a challenge. My other half is very supportive which I am truly appreciative of. I do find that being an introvert and a homebody naturally keeps me grounded. On my days off from my corporate job and while my kids are at school, I use that valuable time to work on art projects. Some people brunch. I make art.
Do you make money from your art? If so, how?
Yes, I am compensated for my artwork. Most of the work that I’ve done has been initiated by the client. Social media has played a major role in exposure. I’ve had the privilege of working with a video production company on an educational animation for the Minnesota Department of Health which then opened up the doors for other opportunities. I’ve learned a lot about pricing my work from other more experienced artists and even though finding and teaching the value will remain a perpetual struggle, I am grateful for the power of networking.
Where do you get your ideas from?
I draw (pun intended) inspiration from various places. My creative mind is like the rotating disc of a kaleidoscope; wondrous, fragmented, and obscure. I could use an image I’ve found on the internet as a reference but end up turning it into something entirely different. Other times, I just go with what I’m feeling based on my experiences.
What kinds of tools do you use to make your work or what is your typical artistic process like?
There was a span of about two years where I couldn’t stop buying art supplies. It became an addiction. I bought around 40 different brush pens, I was frequenting art stores for new Copic markers weekly and every time Amazon suggested a new pen, it arrived a few days later. I knew it was becoming a problem so I had to scale back. While I am still a hapless pen junkie, I stick with the basics. I start off with a light outline with a pencil and then fill in with watercolors or gouache. I carry the essentials in a pencil box with me alongside my Moleskine everywhere I go…just in case I have a sketch-attack.
Are there any artists you look up to or find inspiring?
First and foremost, I lost my mind when I picked up my first copy of MAD magazine. I think I was in fourth grade. It’s played a huge role in the art that I make to this day. Because we are human and there are limitations to originality, borrowing bits and pieces from other artists is necessary. To name a few amazing artists that have had influence on my personal style: Egon Schiele, Deanna Staffo, Luca Barcellona, Julia Rothman and Wendy McNaughton.
Do you have any favorite books, apps, movies, resources, or art tools that you recommend?
Not all erasers are created equal. Get yourself a kneaded eraser for those fine crevices. Vinyl erasers wipe out larger spaces.
Is there any advice you would like to give to young artists or people just starting out?
Every day will feel like you’re “starting out”. The first time I actually had direction in the art that I was making, was when I stopped caring about what people will think and I just became a drawing machine. It was affirming to hear from different respected sources that I had a distinct style of work. My advice to young artists out there is to keep in mind that your work will evolve as you learn and develop. Your art is not for everyone. Stay true to your process and believe in what you’re doing. It’s also very important to support other local artists the same way you’d like to be supported.
What is your ultimate dream project or something you’ll like to accomplish in your lifetime (could be art or non-art related)?
I’d like to create solo murals all over the world. I’ve always been intrigued by graffiti art on trains and to know that there are opportunities out there to make perfectly legal public art excites me. Plus it’d be a challenge for me since I usually work on smaller scaled pieces or in my sketchbook.
Are there any current projects that you’re working on or in the near future that you want to tell us about?
I am currently working on illustrations for a book by the talented Hmong author Kao Kalia Yang, which I’m really excited about and it’s my first time working with an editor. I’ve learned quite a bit so far.
What is the best way to get a hold of you or view or purchase your work?
You can check out my work on my website xeereiter.com. I try to post daily on Instagram @xeereiter.