Attagirl: How Artist Kate Worum Gets Sh*t Done


A real breaking-news concept I’m about to drop on you: being a woman is f*cking hard. Our itinerary goes something like: always be sociable around others, be sensitive but have a backbone, break the glass ceiling, call your mom back, find an affordable therapist, read a book a month, do face masks by brands no one’s heard of and have I-woke-up-like-this white teeth, be able to not look like an idiot singing “Bodak Yellow” into your Instagram stories, buy the newest Glossier release, maintain good mental health and good relationships, find Your Thing, find Your Person.

It’s JUST. TOO. MUCH. (If you’re a guy reading this and you’re like, “Well, being a guy is hard too” I’m going to need you to take a quick lap and then come back and gently fold your hands into your lap and be quiet. I love you. *Kisses you on the forehead*)

The thing is, despite all the times I’ve felt defeated as a woman and despite all the pressures I feel every single day, I wouldn’t change being one for the goddamn world. We are amazing. I love women so much. I think sisterhood is one of the most incredible and energizing things I’ve ever experienced. I love telling women how out-of-this-world they are in bar bathrooms. I fully believe that one day we’ll take over the world and it’ll finally be a better place; I really do. I think it’s the secret this planet has needed the whole time (no offense, men, but we’ve given you control for *checks watch* eighty billion years and things are kind of in the toilet right now, no offense.)

The thing is, we need to help one another get there. There’s this weird embarrassment in asking women how they get things done because we’re so busy trying to maintain this image of looking like we know what we’re doing all the time. I’m here to say on the record: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL I’M DOING.

So this will be an ongoing series of secret sharing and tip-giving. There are so many women I admire and I’m going to ask them how they do their best, and what they do when they lose their sanity, and what their favorite lipstick is. And then I’m going to share that with you. We’ll all get better and learn from each other. And then we’ll take over the world. It’s a small goal I have for us.

I’m starting with Kate Worum. She’s a full-time designer at Target PLUS a mega-talented illustrator, painter, and print-maker on the side. Oh, and she also makes up half of the wallpaper, art installation, and furnishing design company She She.

Same.

On her morning routine:

I get up very early on weekday mornings to work on freelance or She She projects before I head to my day job. My alarm will go off and I’ll throw on a podcast to get my brain going. Usually “Up First” on NPR to get a high-level grasp on WTF is going on out there. I’ve found that if I have a lot of creative projects on my plate it’s more helpful to shut the news out and just turn on music. I love Spotify and will usually put on my “Discover weekly” playlist. Then I will hurl myself out of bed, throw a pot of coffee on, take a scalding shower, set up my laptop, and sit down to paint or draw. As far as getting ready, it’s usually grabbing an outfit that reflects my mood, slapping on some lipstick and mascara and running out the door!

On keeping organized:

I am a huge fan of to-do lists. I have two kinds of lists that I like to create: one has everything that I have to do or should be thinking about for the week – the running list of everything that gives me anxiety about doing. Somehow just writing it all down makes the anxiety dissipate. The second is a much more edited list prioritizing the top 3-6 things I HAVE to accomplish that day. It helps me to focus. I can be extremely scatterbrained so it helps me to manage myself. On days where I feel extremely unmotivated, tired, or like the sky is falling, I’ll put a few things at the top that are very achievable. For example:

  • Get out of bed
  • Shower
  • Make coffee
  • (Then insert hard stuff here)

IT WORKS! Sometimes it feels so gratifying just to check things off when you’re in the mood where you want to hide from everything.

On her skincare routine:

A lot of it is just staring up at the sky and asking God why he gave me scars and facial hair. Kidding… kind of. I’ve been noticing my skin changing drastically over the last couple years, so I have been trying to be more thoughtful of my routine. I love Biossance products right now. Specifically, their Squalane + Vitamin C rose oil. It makes my skin feel glowy and soft. I suffer from Giant Bags Under Your Eyes Syndrome and have been using Origins Brightening Eye Cream. I can’t tell if it’s working yet. Stay tuned.

On finding Her Thing:

I have been making since I was a little tot. The desire to do so only grew as I got older. In high school, I had an incredible mentor that pushed me to take on AP art classes and think about pursuing a career in “The arts.” Painting and drawing have been the only consistent things in my life that I can always count on to feel centered. Without it – I would really be lost.

On what she does in her free time:

When I have free time, I love to “check out” from all things creative. I love to camp, I love to travel, I love to eat and drink all of the delicious things I can find, and I love to surround myself with friends and family that inspire me and that I feel cozy with. And most importantly, I love to relax and recharge. I take self-care extremely seriously. (I am currently spread out on my giant couch sipping a hot tea, wearing an XXXL sweater with lavender diffusing and Nick Drake singing his whispery tunes as we speak.)

On working out:

In the summer, I love to run outside and in the winter, I love hot yoga. I just bought outdoor running gear this afternoon and am going to attempt to run year-round.

On getting inspired:

I am most inspired when I am wandering around new cities, rummaging through weird vintage stores, drinking beer in grimy hole-in-the-walls. The things that hang on those walls… are so good. It really helps to be in a “checked out” mode. I don’t believe you can ever just go out and “get” inspiration; I think you always have to be looking for it, be open to it. I also believe ‘creatives’ have a certain eye that can sometimes look deeper into what’s actually there. Sometimes I find myself working to pull it out of a situation. The other day I was looking at this terrible pattern on a woman’s blazer while standing in line at Super America, but thought “If I changed the scale and color scheme of this, it would make a fantastic wallpaper in a kitchen.”

And then there are the people. So many people inspire me. I’m very inspired by my print team at Target. They’re print and pattern gurus who I learn from every single day. The most inspirational person in my life right now is my boyfriend, Jack. He’s my polar opposite and challenges me in so many good ways and I’ve grown so much since I’ve met him. My business partner, Jenny, also inspires me. Whenever I am stuck on a design or idea – she always has solutions or some grand idea to solve it.

On self-care:

Knowing when to say no is so important, as is knowing when you would be better off just going home to restore your energy. Do whatever it takes to feel and stay centered. Exercise, pamper yourself, sleep, spend time with loved ones that build you up, have a glass of wine in your underwear. Whatever you need to do. Do it.

On what she’s reading:

I have a stack of about eight books that just look at me every night before I go to sleep. They’re really like my pets at this point. I’m trying to prioritize making time to read every day, so I’m slowly chipping away at Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Theft by Finding by David Sedaris.

On getting shit done:

I swear by the notes app on my iPhone. I often will lay in bed before I go to sleep and list out my action plan for the next day. Then delete each task one by one as I complete them.

On her go-to weeknight meals:

To be honest I eat like a bachelor. My fridge looks like no one lives here usually and I think I am single-handedly keeping door dash in business.

On her personal mantra:

I have a ridiculous habit that I love: all of my passwords are positive mantras or reinforcers. For example: DoYourBestToday7! It surprises me how often it pumps me up. Try it!

On starting a print or painting:

It really depends on who it’s for and what its end usage will be. With every project for a client, it will usually start with me pulling reference imagery and color inspiration based on the prompt they give me. I love to then sit with the project for a few days and toss it around in my head. I like to kind of visualize what it could look like before I actually sit down to start drawing or painting it out. So, sometimes when I’m laying on my bed with my eyes closed I’m actually in fact working! If I feel good about where I’d like to take it, then I’ll start sketching out and painting the design. I have found that if I sit down right away and try to pump it out it’s very hit or miss. It needs to marinate.

On what she listens to while painting:

Yes! I have to. It can get a bit boring or lonely to spend so much time alone drawing and painting, so having something on is usually key for me. My go-to podcasts right now are: Up first, How I Built This, Girl Boss Radio, Fresh Air, Ted Talks, Here’s The Thing, The Daily. I also will sometimes throw on a movie. (Naughty!!!)

On artists she loves these days:

I know this may sound crazy, but I don’t like to look at or reference other artists or illustrators too often. Like I mentioned earlier, I love getting inspired in unconventional ways.

Since this will be an ongoing series, what do you guys want to learn from other women featured? I’d love to know.

Images via: Hanna Voxland


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Liz Welle is a professional feelings feeler but gets paid to do social and digital stuff for brands in Minneapolis while occasionally food styling on the side. She lives in Uptown with her boyfriend and their thirteen plants. She is doing her best.

 

 

  • Outdoor winter running is my favorite, you’re going to LOVE IT!! You’re only cold for a minute, then it’s so exhilarating. If it’s snowing, even better. (And I live in Montana, so I’m not shitting around.)

  • I loved this! It felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders when you said “I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THE HELL I’M DOING!” So often I feel like I’m the only one who doesn’t know x,y, & z. So thanks for that 🙂 The questions were great too; these are the kind of things I wonder when I see someone I admire. It’s so weird, but I always think about what the heck people eat for dinner and how early they get up. I guess I just want confirmation that my system isn’t completely unimpressive, haha.

  • Liz, you’re the kind of person I wish I was friends with in real life. Every time I read one of your stories here on W&D, I hunker down in my chair and wish I had a glass of wine and popcorn because I know “Oh. *This* is going to be good.”

    e.g. That entire third paragraph. Especially: “I love telling women how out-of-this-world they are in bar bathrooms.” If this ain’t me …

    Love this series and can’t wait to read more from such inspiring women.

  • She sounds like an awesome woman! I would love to hear about a work-life-balance that includes friends/a potential relationship, especially if you are working from home and not seeing anyone for long periods of the day.

    Also, what to do when you’re stuck in a creative rut and want/need to deliver anyways!

    Love the interview style and design of the article!

  • i know this wouldn’t be super on-brand for W&D but i think this series would really benefit from artists who aren’t as financially stable–none of the artists i know would be able to “single handedly keep door dash in business”. what would kate’s day look like if she also had to cook all of her meals at home?

  • Okay, so how do I subscribe if I don’t do Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, etc? Really like your style and would love to see your posts in my inbox!