Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Kelly Loreto. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Kelly, appreciate you joining us today. Can you talk to us about how you learned to do what you do?
I’ve been in the creative and marketing field since college. I started exploring more work that I could do with my hands and without a computer. I started with apparel design and sewing. From there I wanted to do furniture but didn’t know where or how to learn. Most furniture programs were a big investment of time, money or traveling to a far location. Wood shops are less common these days and investing in tools without experience didn’t seem logical.
After years of exploring, I came across a night program through the San Diego Community College district. It was amazing! Had a brilliant teacher that loved what he did and loved to share it with his students. I went on to take that for many years, starting with cutting boards and eventually building tables, chairs and bookshelves. The most essential skill I learned is patience. You don’t want to rush the planning of the work, the measuring, the cutting. You can’t “undo” once you cut and you can lose a finger if you’re not careful. I think not rushing is the most important thing but it can be frustrating as progress is slower. Some furniture projects would take months to complete as only had access to the tools 1-2x a week at first.
From there, I learned the essentials of building, making visual patterns and seeing how it all comes together. One of the biggest challenges is having access to or investing in tools. Another challenge is as I crew more comfortable and went on my own, I didn’t have a strong mentor I could ask questions to when I would get stuck on projects so things would sit for awhile sometimes until I mentally troubleshooted all the options. That lead me to paint more as it was a bit more relaxing and would clear my head. They feed one another. Creative outlets don’t have to be one medium, it’s a good change of pace to do different things.
Kelly, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I’m an artist and woodworker. I went to school for advertising and journalism but always did some hobbies on the side. I started with apparel design and construction, which lead me to woodworking many years later which led me to painting. I currently love to make furniture and paint, sometimes leaning more into one over the other.
I like to describe my work as a balance of hard and soft, both in material and in design. With my love for vintage styling and the notion of joining different materials and colors, Dovetails and Darts is an art project that keeps evolving. All pieces are made using domestic hardwoods and sustainable materials. Each piece is handmade or hand-painted, one-at-a-time, with high aspirations and lots of ‘character’ in North Park, San Diego, Ca.
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
I use to be hard on myself, thinking I needed to stick to one thing to master it. I was nervous to put my work in front of people as I didn’t think of myself as an Artist or Woodworker. I was a hobbyist. That eventually starting selling stuff because I didn’t have room to keep it all or money to sustain my hobby. That lead to me doing craft fairs and having a humble online store. The most rewarding thing about being an artist is having a vision in your head and bringing it to life. Sometimes it doesn’t translate the way it does in your head, but I’ve learned to be okay with that because it usually results in something better or unexpected. Some of my favorite work was a result of me painting over something else, or changing wood plans bc I cut something slightly too small.
Seeing the end result, being proud of it, and knowing the creative journey it took to get there is what keeps me challenging myself to try something new.
In your view, what can society to do to best support artists, creatives and a thriving creative ecosystem?
Art in the general sense is a matter of putting yourself – and your work which is an extension of self – out there for others’ to judge. The best way we can support artists and creatives is to encourage new ideas, new works and not be harsh critics. The artist will have critics that can help guide them but the public should be supportive. Appreciate the courage it takes to put an idea out into the world vs. the actual art itself if it’s not to your likely. It’s subjective and isn’t that the point?