Aimee Kinssies / Interior Design

Aimee Kinssies, Watkins College of Art

What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?
I make order around me. Whether it’s doing the dishes, organizing or picking up my office or house, I need a clear head to be focused and really get to it. Also, I love to light a candle, burn sage or incense, and have Nils Frahm or Tycho on in the background. I need music without lyrics so that I can focus.

Tell us about a time you failed.
I had a moment last semester, during presentations on our last day of class, when I was
hearing a particularly hard critique of my work. I had poured probably 100 hours into this
project for a healthcare clinic, and I was presenting my ideas and viewpoints to a jury of
judges as well as in front of my peers and instructor. I felt nervous and vulnerable and
really insecure and, for me, insecurity is something I hide well but have dealt with all my
life. This one particular judge had some very good feedback on my project, but it wasn’t
about what I did but what I didn’t do. She saw missed opportunities in my project and
didn’t understand why I had designed this clinic the way I did. Well, I listened and took
her feedback to heart, though it took me to a really dark place of doubt in myself and
feeling as if I had failed completely. I didn’t handle it well internally. After I left the
presentation, I cried walking out of Watkins and cried all the way home. I took it all as “I
have failed” and not “Next time, I can fix these things and do better.” I have found that in
my years at Watkins, there is a big ego that I have and am still battling. Now, every time I
work on a project, I remember her words, and they don’t bother me as much. Instead, I
think to myself, “Could I have done that with more intention?” Or: “Is this design helping
the people within this space?” Or: “How would I feel if I were occupying this space?” The
failure that I thought I had had, has ultimately been some of my best advice in my time at
Watkins. We don’t always get the feedback we want, but sometimes that’s exactly what we
need to hear to be better and tackle something emotional in our life.

The one thing I work most toward these days is mindfulness in everything.

Name the one place in Nashville you go for inspiration or rejuvenation.
When I need to rejuvenate, I get to the woods. My go-to is Radnor Lake. I love going when it’s cloudy and drizzly, since usually people don’t venture out then, and it’s weirdly inspiring and peaceful to me to hike in the rain.

What implement or tool in your “toolbox” as an artist do you love or depend on most?
AutoCAD! Interior Design is a lot more technical than one would think, and these tools help my accuracy in the design process.

What does success look like to you?
As I get older and go through more of life’s stressors and ups and downs, the one thing I work most toward these days is mindfulness in everything. If I can get mindful with my pursuit, my “why,” and the way I navigate my “why,” then good things will come. If I can navigate frustration with intention and understanding, that changes everything for me, and my art is successful.

What book, film, or piece of music do you return to again and again to provoke thought or keep you connected to your artwork?
“The Four Agreements” and “The Voice of Knowledge” by Don Miguel Ruiz. They can read a little wacky at first, but they are amazing at getting us over ourselves. They’ve honestly changed my life in how I look at myself and others.