Creative Careerists: Interview with Katharine Sise

Creative Careerists is a new, ongoing series on Creative Juicer that features short interviews with successful creatives to learn about their creative process and how they reached their success, whether in art or career.

Do you know an inspiring creative? Nominate someone for an interview by emailing emily [dot] wenstrom [at] gmail [dot] com.

Meet the Creative:
Katharine Sise is a New York City-based author, jewelry designer and television host. Katharine has designed jewelry for national campaigns like Vera Wang, Gap and Keds. In 2009, Target launched Katharine Sise for Target. She also works regularly as a fashion and lifestyle consultant, appearing on-air for networks like HSN, Oxygen, Discovery Channel, CNBC and ABC’s Good Morning America.

Katharine’s first book, Creative Girl: The Ultimate Guide for Turning Talent and Creativity into a Real Career (Perseus/Running Press) is an encouraging and practical take on how to make a living doing what you love. Her first work of fiction, The Boyfriend App, will be published by HarperCollins/Balzer & Bray in May 2013.

What does an average day look like for you in your creative career?
I work best writing in two-hour spurts throughout the day. This helps me feel what I’m writing is fresh. I start very early–sometimes the first few hours start at 5 a.m. I save any jewelry-making for the evening. I need to be very awake and present to write, whereas jewelry-making is meditative and relaxing, and can be done before bed!

How did you get to where you are now in your career? What key moments, decisions or circumstances brought you here?
I came to writing books in a very roundabout way. I was a theater major at the University of Notre Dame, and when I graduated, I started performing in plays and independent films in New York City. I wasn’t making money as an actor, so I waitressed and bartended. I was a horrible waitress, and knew I needed something different, so I started designing jewelry when I was 24. I worked in a boutique, and sold my pieces there. When the jewelry took off, I used my acting background to start working in television hosting, appearing on style segments and eventually co-hosting a television show on The Home Shopping Network. I was so happy to be working creatively, and felt strongly that there needed to be a book that offered as much guidance as was possible for other creative women. I wrote CREATIVE GIRL based on my experience, and the experiences of other women I interviewed. I enjoyed writing so much that I pursued fiction writing next. I’m now working on a book called THE BOYFRIEND APP, the first novel in a two-book series that Harper Collins/Balzer & Bray will publish in May of 2013. With all the creative adventures I’ve had, I’ve finally landed in what feels like “home.” I hope to write fiction for a very long time!

What excites you most about your work?
Telling new stories and exploring a character’s life is the most exciting thing to me about writing fiction. It’s very similar to what I loved so much about acting.

What is its greatest challenge for you?
With many creative careers, work is publicly praised and publicly criticized. The criticism part isn’t easy. I try to take a writer-friend of mine’s advice, that critics are giving you free guidance, and many times helpful feedback.

How do you get your best ideas?
I love watching movies to inspire new ideas. Especially in the theater. There’s something about seeing visual ideas playing out that helps jump start my mind for book ideas.

What do you do when you get stuck?
I tell myself that I’m very, very lucky to make my living creatively. Then I tell myself to sit back down in that chair and just get working! I also remind myself it’s okay to make junk. It’s okay to write a bad sentence, or make a not-so-great piece of jewelry. I can just make another one that’s better tomorrow. The important thing is to keep working.

How do you make sure you make time for creativity in your life?
Since I was little, I needed that time. So I’ve structured my life in a way that I could focus on creativity. That wasn’t always easy. I used to bartend from 4 p.m. until midnight so that I could focus on my creative pursuits in the early part of the day, when my mind was the most sharp. Now I wake up at 5 a.m. many days to catch a few extra hours in the morning. I’m tired at 5 a.m. for sure, but there’s always coffee.

What advice do you have for other aspiring creatives who want to follow in your footsteps?
Just keep creating. No matter how many times you get rejected. (I’ve been rejected many, many times.) You’re doing your creative work because you love it, not because someone else needs to.

2 thoughts on “Creative Careerists: Interview with Katharine Sise

  1. Thanks for sharing your creative life with us, Katharine. I love your advice that it’s okay to write junk. Just getting the junk down on paper seems to prime the pump for the good stuff. I’m off to find a copy of your book.

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