Maker: Krissy Teegerstrom
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BEGIN THE FEATHERWEIGHT ADVENTURE
To be honest, the adventure chose me. I never thought I could be an artist. I always worked jobs supporting other creative people because I didn’t believe I was creative. About six years ago I had quit a high-paying job and was taking some time off, and two T-shirt designs popped into my head one day. I blew it off because I had no desire or idea how to make printed tees. But the images kept coming into my head, so after about 9 months of ignoring them, I finally gave in and figured out how to have a dude screen print the designs in his garage. I was visiting with one of my best friends in NYC and showed him the shirts I had made. He showed them to his sister-in-law who ended up ordering my very first T-shirt design to sell in Urban Outfitters. I was totally blown away, but I jumped through all the hoops to fill the orders. I had no idea what I was doing, but I figured there must be something to pursue or else UO wouldn’t have wanted to work with me. I’ve been figuring it out ever since.
WHY DO YOU CALL AUSTIN HOME
I’m a native Texan so my Texas pride is strong! I moved to New York City after going to college at UT, and later I spent a few too many years in the San Francisco Bay Area, but I could never get Austin out of my heart. I’m so glad to be back.
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM FOR A SPARK OF CREATIVITY
I have an old iPod that was filled with music from 6 or 7 years ago, before I started Featherweight. I listen to it whenever I’m sewing, painting, making sculptures or collages. At this point I have a Pavlovian association with listening to that music and making stuff. It’s a mix of artists, but it includes TV on the Radio, Bat For Lashes, Lykke Li, Crowded House, Patty Griffin and Cameo.
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW FOR INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION
@FreeandNative, @AshleyLongshoreArt, @BJonesStyle
GO TO MID-DAY SNACK or ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
When I’m creating I get into a flow and it’s the only time I ever forget to eat. So when it’s a studio day I’ll plan for a big breakfast and dinner and then pack some leftovers for lunch. Stopping to go out for food or eating something fried or really filling would kill my flow, so I just need something quick and easy to stave off hunger.
WHERE DO YOU DESIGN BEST? EX: HOME, STUDIO, NATURE, ETC.
There are two parts to design: inspiration and execution. I always wait for inspiration to come to me before I begin a project and that could show up anytime, anywhere. There are a lot of things I do in order to keep a clear channel for my inspiration to arrive, like my regular meditation practice and getting out into nature. Then I go about my days and trust that the inspiration will arrive without putting impatience or doubt on it.
Once I receive the inspiration, it’s time to execute the idea. I do the physical part of my design process best in my small studio off Bolm Road. It’s got a lot of light and electrical outlets so I can sew, paint, draw, take photos and make videos in there. I got super lucky and found an artist who rents out parts of his larger studio at affordable prices. I looked all over this city for an art studio and was astounded at what people were charging, up to $5 a square foot!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT SO FAR OF FEATHERWEIGHT STUDIO
I’ve had an ongoing collaboration with visual artist Nathan Carter, and last October I got to make custom satin capes for his punk band who performed at his exhibition opening at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas. It was a bucket list item I didn’t know I had. I’m also still thrilled that Eddie Vedder wore my T-shirt design on the cover of Billboard Magazine.
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
It’s very important to me to be original and true to myself. I try not to pay attention to what others are doing; I go within for inspiration and direction. If you’re being true to yourself, then you won’t look exactly like anyone else.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
My sweetheart is a professional entertainer and he’s very true to himself. He’s made a long career from playing music, acting and now writing, all while being authentic. I’m lucky to live with an artist I respect and admire and we talk about art and creativity all the time.
HOW HAS SOCIAL HELPED YOUR BRAND
I’m ambivalent about social media! On the upside it has connected me with some extremely cool people. I enjoy Instagram but I hate Facebook. I’ve started making videos because it’s weird and fun so it has been interesting to share those online. It’s the most rewarding when I post something that gets comments from people.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS HAVE YOU LOVED COLLABORATING WITH
I love collaborating. It stretches my creative skills and it involves problem solving and finding mutually beneficial outcomes which are things I love to do. My favorite collaborator has been the fine artist Nathan Carter that I mentioned. We’ve collaborated on T-shirts, tote bags, and those custom capes. I love collaborating with Cobra Rock Boot Company in Marfa. We did a custom version of my original cut & sew sweatshirts and those sold really well. I also collaborated with the boutique Solid Gold in Austin to design a SOLID GOLD TEXAS tee. I’ve had more than one person tell me it’s their favorite tee, which is awesome to hear.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU CHOOSE TO USE IN YOUR FEATHERWEIGHT PRODUCTS
I try to use sustainable, recycled, vintage and upcycled material as much as I can. I get a lot of my office supplies secondhand. For clothing I use natural fibers as much as possible, because I hate polyester. It’s cheap, it doesn’t breathe on the body and it pills really quickly. I choose materials that will wear well over time so that hopefully my clothing will last and be passed down rather than thrown away. Future vintage, if you will.
WHY IS UPCYCLING SO IMPORTANT TO OUR COMMUNITY
I wish everyone would watch the True Cost documentary (https://truecostmovie.com/) to learn about the pollution, danger and devastation caused by the fashion industry, fast fashion in particular. When I learned how to compost about ten years ago, I began to think about every single thing I use - where did it come from and where will it go when I’m done with it? Upcycling takes clothing out of the waste stream and gives it new life. Unfortunately there’s been a lot of bad design with upcycled materials. As far as good design with upcycled materials, I make upcycled one-of-a-kind pieces, I think what Zero Waste Daniel is doing is interesting (http://zerowastedaniel.com/) and I bought a terrific upcycled leather motorcycle jacket from Deadwood (www.deadwood.se).
HOW IMPORTANT IS SHOPPING LOCAL TO YOU
Shopping local is very important to me. I shop secondhand for the majority of my clothing and homewares, for a few reasons: I’m on an artist’s budget, vintage fits my aesthetic, and vintage craftsmanship is usually superior to cheaply made modern items. When I do buy new items I try to purchase them from my friends’ boutiques. It’s hard to keep a business running and every dollar counts. I vote with my dollars! I never shop for fast fashion and I limit my online purchases to only things that I can’t source locally.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
Last fall I applied to several maker events and was accepted to all of them. That was a warm welcome and I felt very thankful for it. I was lucky enough to get to participate in the East Austin Studio Tour and it was incredibly fun to have a bunch of friendly art-lovers stroll through my studio.
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE or TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
I adore coffee but I’m so sensitive to caffeine that if I drink more than one cup in a day I totally spin out. At home in the morning I make matcha with maple syrup, coconut butter and coconut milk. I reserve my coffee drinking as a treat.
WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO A DESIGN COLLAB WITH A LOCAL AUSTIN ARTIST
Absolutely. I’ve done a lot of my collaborations long distance so it would be fun to work with someone here in person.
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT FEATHERWEIGHT STUDIO
Keeping Featherweight going for this many years has involved getting over a lot of my fears & terrors, learning to accept failures and continually growing my belief in myself. Being an artist and being self-employed is not easy. It’s like an iceberg; you can only see 10% of it on the surface, and the 90% that’s hidden underwater has been a rollercoaster. Working for yourself can require you to do a lot of work ON your SELF. It takes so much courage. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject and I’m working on some teaching and consulting to share what I’ve learned, to hopefully help people to go after their own dreams.
AUSTIN LOCAL INSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK
I have a soft spot in my heart for the My Name Is Joe truck downtown. They employ people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction. That level of vision and purpose inspires me. They have a great Instagram.
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUE
I’m partial to Solid Gold Boutique in East Austin.
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP(S)
It’s not the closest to my house, but I always have a good time at Jo’s on South Congress.
MUST-SEE RECOMMENDATION(S) FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN
I always recommend a stroll down South Congress, a trip to see the bats, an adventure at the Broken Spoke and of course any first trip to Austin needs to include chips & queso, Topo Chico and breakfast tacos.
WHERE CAN SUPPORTERS FIND YOUR PRODUCTS
My products are sold in a few boutiques across the country, and sometimes I participate in maker events or open studios, which I announce via my Instagram and newsletter. My web shop is open 24/7 at www.featherweightstudio.com/shop.