So many departments are represented at the Academy of Art’s annual Spring Show, but the School of Visual Development always presents like a walk through Candyland. Aiming to teach skills that will result in memorable characters starring in detailed scenarios, it’s easy to get distracted among the little storyboards. Kristin Tingey’s whimsical creations are unique, intriguing, often very funny, and look absolutely ready to inhabit your favorite new film or video game.

Juxtapoz: Where did you grow up and what interested and influenced you as a youngster?
Kristin Tingey: I grew up in Salt Lake City, Utah, and spent many summers at Meadow Vue Ranch in Island Park, Idaho, where I rode horses in the greater outdoors. When I wasn’t riding I was hiking and camping with friends and family in the national parks. Nature has always been an important part of my life, whether it was in the backyard, school grounds or wilderness. Since I was a kid I made it a life goal to somehow help the environment, and as an adult, I have come to understand that in order to help the environment we must first help each other as people first.

Did you have a job or attend another school before the Academy of Art?
I received my BFA in Art and Photography at Utah State University, along with a minor in Art History and a minor in Entrepreneurship. I worked on the same ranch I attended as a camp kid and later as a camp counselor. I taught my own camp kids to ride horses and participate in mini rodeo events.

When did you know you wanted to pursue art and why?
When I was a kid I spent much of my time drawing, watching nature shows and reading through animal guide books for fun. Growing up, everyone told me I was going to be an artist, but I stubbornly wanted to go into related to animals. Originally in my college undergrad I studied Veterinary Science and Biology, but instead of taking notes and studying like I should have been, I was spending time drawing and studying art. Eventually, my grades told me where I should be. At first I thought I couldn't make a living as an artist and this would have to be a hobby, but that came from what others told me and their own background knowledge. I learned over the years that I enjoy working with a fun team and having a good time building and bouncing ideas around to make larger projects come to life. It was then that I started making plans to figure out how to enter the commercial art world instead of being a solitary artist in the fine art world.

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How did you narrow down a particular field of art as your focus?
USU was more art focused than commercial, so I got my degree in photography to learn concepts that would branch into digital and commercial art, where I wanted to be. I knew these skills would overlap and improve my work, so while I was learning photography from school, I was also learning traditional and digital art in my free time from other resources. Sometimes I was able to connect the two fro assignments as well which I greatly appreciated the support of my professors, who allowed and supported my desire to play with mixed media.

Did you have a favorite artist or influence?
 My favorite photographer is Alexia Sinclair. Many of her works have greatly inspired me and touched my soul with the content, color and lighting. I learned a lot by just studying her craft and trying out similar tricks in my own work, as well as how to look at new perspectives through a creative eye.

One of my favorite musicians is Lindsey Stirling who is an incredible violinist, dancer and composer. I used to play violin as a kid, but I had strong feelings about the content I was directed to play. Many years ago I saw one of Lindsey’s shows as a guest for a small concert at a kids’ instrumental camp in Salt Lake City. I immediately fell in love and felt it was a remarkably moving way in showing how a violin could be played to express the versatility of its abilities and potential. Hder music is touching and has a wonderful voice in telling stories. It’s a language I understand and relate to. It has helped me focus while working on my own projects and focusing on my own life dreams.

Where do you find inspiration to create and do you have a favorite place to do it?
I find inspiration in every part of my life: people I meet, places I go, music I hear and simply sleeping and dreaming every night. When I sit down to create I prefer a private place to myself where I’m not interrupted by life. It’s not very exciting to watch, but I find comfort and a creative working space by sitting at my desk with a hot beverage and my computer and drawing tablet. I prefer to work in the afternoon and through into the late night. It's nice to stay “in the zone” for a long period of time.

Why did you choose the Academy of Art?
I wanted an education in commercial art and found there were two schools that seemed likely to help me get there. It was sort of a spontaneous decision but I knew, even in high school, that I needed to learn something from California and somehow I would find it. I expected the Academy of Art to feel less competitive and more collaboratively friendly . I hoped to meet people who had similar interests and hobbies, as well as the drive and inspiration to build large projects together with that, in actuality, one person couldn’t realistically do on their own.

What was your favorite class?
My favorite class was Visual Development Styles. I learned so much from the material and had the chance to explore different styles and techniques. But most of all, I was pleased just spending time with my professor and classmates. We had a lot of fun in that class, and the people made it a great time, exactly what I was looking for from the school. I hope we’ll all cross paths again someday.

What was memorable about participating in the Spring Show?
I enjoyed seeing art the students were creating and getting a feel for what other classes had to offer and teach. I wish I had the time and money to take them all and meet more people and learn more skills. It’s always inspiring to see new work and admire the process and fresh content. It’s also nice visiting and meeting people whom I’ve only seen briefly during Zoom class meetings.

What are your goals pertaining to art, and how do you see it as part of your life?
My ultimate goal through art is to build stories and share them with a wide audience, specifically stories that focus on mental health, healing, guidance, as well as learning and implementing positive morality, perspectives and practices. Since I was a kid in elementary school I wanted to help the environment and the planet, and as I stated before, I have learned the way to do that is to help people. So with art and storytelling, I plan to do so, And I hope I’m not the only one with that goal in mind, which is why I am pleased to share it and hope others are interested in taking this path, as well.