Our goal with Katt. is to create an online community for our favourite feline loving artists, illustrators and designers - known and unknown. The emphasis on collaboration and connecting artists to not only each other, but to a growing audience as well.
For our artists and designers, it is an unbridled platform for expression. For everyone else, it’s a place to engage with a rapidly expanding creative cat culture in one place. This time we flew to New York to talk with Yuliya from Studiocult.co to get to know her a little bit better.
Can you tell us about yourself and what you're working on?
Hello, my name is Yuliya Veligurskaya and I'm and educator and designer based out of New York City. Part time, I assist in teaching at the College of Architecture and Design at The New Jersey Institute of Technology. I spend the rest of my time running Studiocult.co.
Currently I am working on expanding my product line and am looking forward to a bright 2018 where I plan to open my office in NYC mid January. My brand currently focuses on gifts made for designers and design enthusiasts, however I plan to expand into fashion and housewares this upcoming year. I just closed a contract on my first line of neon lights that will be available for sale in January!
What is your background?
I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Architecture and held a job as a junior architect in NYC for a year after graduation. I worked on public works projects in transit for New York City and New Jersey. After that I decided to go off on my own to start my own design business. I have had a passion for the arts my whole life, its been a sort of baseline of my interests ever since I could remember. I was always in some sort of art class or creating some personal project.
What age were you when you first started making anything? What did you make?
I remember back when I was still in Russia, my parents had got me this coloring set that actually used holographic foils rather than crayons or pencils. You would select a project in the set, press a portion of the foil into the area you wished to apply it to and then peal off the excess. Kind of a random example but I recall the the experience to be very satisfying.
I must have been 3 years old, it must have been the first thing I remember making. As an only child I was often alone left to my own devices with the art supplies I had in my room. I would mostly draw, but I also loved to put together puzzles, create cities and homes in the Sims computer games; there was definitely a pattern of activities which included the use of both strategy and creativity.
What is the best place in the world to be a maker?
As a proud New Yorker I am going to (and am obliged to) argue that my home, NYC is the best place in the world to be a maker. There are museums, galleries and studios for nearly any flavor of art you might be interested in. There is no shortage of creative people, exhibitions and opportunities in this huge metropolis. It has nearly everything you want (minus palm trees and year-round warm weather), so I have found it hard to leave.
I'm sure there are thousands of other places that are more friendly and romantic than this city, but my roots have grown deep here. One time when I was on a return flight back to New York City from a vacation, I was greeted outside with a woman screaming profanities at some man in a car in front of her for some trivial reason. As strange as this sounds, somehow I felt a very warm and fuzzy feeling inside after observing that spectacle. "Ah... its so good to be home" I thought! The chaos makes for a creative wellspring I think.
What's the best careers advice you've ever received?
As cheesy as it sounds, "follow your heart and the money will come." There is no worse feeling than having to get up in the morning and do something that you know isn't the best use of your talents or inclinations. I think many of us spend so much time looking for security in lucrative careers rather than taking inventory of what we are truly good at. I argue that choosing a career off of our natural inclinations is much more secure.
The work we do feels like a well integrated component of our lives rather than a dreaded necessity to pay the bills.
Decisions come easier, our talent is dependable, we feel better on a daily as we are doing what we like to do, people want to work with us because we are happier and it is easier to spot opportunities in something you naturally have an eye for. Most importantly, the work we do feels like a well integrated component of our lives rather than a dreaded necessity to pay the bills.
Even if you only have 5 minutes a day to commit to your dream, go for it!
Chasing my dream of starting my own design firm was very scary and lonely at first, but it’s the best choice I have ever made. I want to pass on this advice as well. Even if you only have 5 minutes a day to commit to your dream, go for it!
When you're running low on motivation, what do you do to pick yourself up?
The golden question! There are times that ideas just don't come and that can be very demotivating. Design is a discipline. You have to sit down and do the work even if nothing comes out because that's just the way it works. There is no shortcut around this, it is simply part of the process.
Design is a discipline. You have to sit down and do the work even if nothing comes out because that's just the way it works.
If I'm really stuck, I go to an art gallery or a bookstore to go look at some inspirational stuff. Also, there are a ton of interviews available online from many artists talking about their creative process and work. I always tell people who ask for advice on this situation to not reinvent the wheel when considering a new idea. I take a successful artist's or business's model and apply it to my own work.
If money were no object, what would you do with your time?
I would probably keep doing what I am doing now, but have more resources for travel to see art, experience other cultures and fund some larger scale projects to work on. I don't see myself ever stopping creating things. A huge studio with unlimited supplies would be awesome, plus several cats and a private chef would be pretty cool though!
What was the last product you saw that surprised you?
Funny enough, it’s the dating app called The League. I've recently got into the world of these apps and have found them to be really superficial and fast paced. I was surprised that this app actually slowed down this process and was able to provide quality listings.
Every day at 5pm you get a small handful of prospects and that's it. It really makes you read into their profiles, yet the profiles remain concise and digestible. It eliminates countless hours of time wasting swiping and cuts straight to business. Its criticized to be a bit elitist and I haven't had it for long yet, but I do admire the concept in contrast to the dozens of apps that facilitate fickle interactions.
What would be the title of your autobiography and why?
"How to be Happy: Make Your Own Choices" It's really that simple. I feel like for the longest time I listened to other people, all who are very well educated, had my best interest about what is possible and practical in this life. I found out early on in life that if you listen to everyone and never take risks of your own, you will ultimately end up living quite literally for someone else as you let them make all the decisions for you.
"How to be Happy: Make Your Own Choices" It's really that simple.
It would be a story of how I came to maturity and really owned the pursuit of my passions and talents on my terms. I'm one of those terrible people who will chew your ear off about how school fails artists, entrepreneurs or anyone capable of independent thought really, so there will be plenty of that in there too.
Who are the people you admire and look to for inspiration?
All of the people who taught me in my formative years as a designer first and foremost. I often look to brands rather than people for inspiration. Muji, IKEA, Aritzia, Vetements and Jonathan Adler to name a few.
What's the last thing you read that made a lasting impression or really got you to think differently?
There's this really great book called DO/Design Why Beauty is the Key to Everything by Alan Moore. The book describes all sorts of ways to improve your creative process and understand the what, how and why to design anything.
The book goes onto explain how all of these creative processes create beautiful objects and also demystifies the definition of beauty. I recommend it to anyone who is faced with creating anything on the daily.
For a while I thought, "How could I be spending my life doing something as frivolous as making pretty things when there is so much political unrest and issues going on in the world?” Perhaps I am wrong for choosing this kind of career?" I faced guilt and fear in pursuing a career as an artist.
This book helped me understand that creating beauty in the world is very much a valid effort in society. Creating beautiful things is much like creating harmony in the physical world. Creating useful things, things that are simple and easy to use. You can make things that make people smile, or make them feel comfortable or even safe perhaps. If an idea brings some sort of improvement to life, there should be no shame in creating it, but rather a celebration.
"The act of creating something of beauty is a way of bringing good into the world. Infused with optimism, it says simply: Life is worthwhile" - Alan Moore
I think we could all use a little more of that.