What is your name and what do you do?
My name is Kelsi Klembara and I am a writer and photographer. I wear a lot of hats, but I love writing profile/feature type pieces and writing/shooting internationally when possible.
How did you start making your art? Why do you keep going?
I’ve always loved to write. I used to type up short stories on my family’s very first computer, print them out, and draw photos to go along with them. I remember one specifically that had to do with a lonely Spanish bull. I also read a lot when I was young, so I think I’ve always been fascinated with stories of different people and places. I also love to learn and really enjoying sharing what I learn with others. In high school, I started taking photography classes and fell in love with telling stories through imagery.
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot more writing than photography. I’ve wrestled for years on trying to decide if I should give up either writing or photography in order to focus on just one thing. Last year I finally decided it was important to just do what was put in front of me well instead of worrying about what I wasn’t doing. I still struggle a lot feeling that I’m missing out on something, but this approach has helped me not only enjoy whatever is in front of me more. I also realized that what I really enjoy is using my gifts well and working hard. If that’s my focus, comparisons and anxiety are quicker to fade away.
How do faith and creativity collide for you?
In my given fields, I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to express thoughts, ideas and truths that hopefully make faith more tangible for people. Oftentimes, I think this can happen by just doing a good job at what is put in front of me. I can rest easy knowing my job is only to use the gifts I’ve been given while trusting the Holy Spirit to work through a story, a photograph or a blog post to point people to truths about our God and our Savior.
I also think Christians, and especially Christian women, can become paralyzed by the idea that their work isn’t good enough for God because it’s not daring enough, creative enough, etc. I certainly know this is how I used to feel, but it’s such a ridiculous notion! I really believe that living out faith is a whole lot less about what we do, and a whole lot more about what Jesus has done. It’s a freeing thought to think that my creativity and my talents were not only given to me by a great and loving Creator (and therefore they already are good!), but that because of Jesus, the ways I use or don’t use them has absolutely no effect on my relationship with God. Realizing this allows me to take bigger risks and try new things because I’m not worried that I’m making a wrong decision, and when I mess up along the way, I am still as loved and cared for by God as I was before. This is a message I’m really passionate about right now and really want to encourage other woman artists and believers in.
What are you thankful for in this season of your life, your work?
I will be honest with you that as I write this, I am in a season full of doubt and insecurity in my work. It’s been a slow start to the year and I have to daily fight off thoughts about not being able to make it and about not knowing what I’m doing.
But I’m getting to a point where I can also be thankful for this time. I think it’s a time to reflect on what I want to go after, and a time where I’m having to choose to work hard despite the fact that there isn’t a whole lot to work on. I also know that this time will pass – every year I’ve been a freelancer, there have been slow months and busy months, and I think much of this work is finding the courage to keep creating even when you don’t have anyone else to create for. I‘m thankful for that challenge and for the people around me right now who are encouraging me to do that.
What are you working on now?
Doug (my husband and I) are in the beginning stages of a passion project we’re basing off stories of people who work on Jefferson Boulevard located in Oak Cliff (located in South Dallas). We live in Oak Cliff and are fascinated by it’s history, and Jefferson used to be the heart of the community. There’s a lot of revitalization going on right now, and so Jefferson is a mix of upcoming business and Spanish-speaking restaurants and shops. We feel like this is a unique moment to capture the stories of all of these people. We also want to use this project to spark conversations about what it means to develop an area thoughtfully and respectfully. These stories can be found at http://www.jeffersonblvd.co/.
What inspires you?
I’m most inspired by quality and thoughtfulness. I may not even like a product or the topic of something I read, but if it’s clear the creator’s goal is to finish whatever they are making to the best of their ability, it inspires me want to do the same with what I do. I also love traveling and thinking through how people in different places interact - I love imagining the lives of people and places I have little context for.
What are you reading/watching/listening to right now?
Describe your perfect day of recharging/relaxing.
Recharging and relaxing for me usually involves a lot of alone time at home. Cooking a big meal is also something that recharges me – I love trying a new recipe and sharing it with others.
Complete this sentence: "I cannot live without ..."
Podcasts – I feel like they’re listening to stories is currently one of my main pieces of inspiration.
Below are some of my favorites:
Any advice for women who are aspiring creatives in your field?
Don’t be afraid to take risks, but know that whether you succeed or you fail, your identity and salvation is secure only in Jesus.
Don’t be afraid to ask! Pitch ideas, send cold emails, find someone to brainstorm with. The worst thing that’s going to happen is the answer no.
Illustrations and hand lettering by Sojung Lee.
If you'd like to be featured, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org