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Studies in Botany, Anatomy, and Zoology from DC.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Kristen Kullberg and I live in Washington, DC with my fat cat, Winston. I'm a middle school Language Arts teacher here in the District and I love it.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?

I spend almost all of my time at school with my students. Most of my day is spent tricking kids into discovering their love for reading and their confidence as learners. I fight for them to get into good high schools, make awkward phone calls on their behalf, run interference on the all sorts of "haters" (grown ups - pshaw), and a million other things.

I read. I love it.

I run. I hate-love it.

I draw. I love-LOVE it.

I drink wine. (LooooOOOooooooove it.)

What would be the title of your memoir? Why?

I will have multiple memoirs. The first will be called "Let's Dance, Goddamnit" and it will be written by my best friend, Dillon. The second will be "Kullbergs Can't Smoke Pot", written by my high school friends, illustrated by Dillon. The third will be written by my 8th grade students. When asked for a title, the overwhelming response was "Ms. Kullberg: She Likes Cats and Reading and She Got Crazy Hair".

Where does your inspiration come from?

Old, olddddd books. The older the better. Rummaging through antique shops and perusing the internet in search of the dustiest botany reference book I can find is something I put an embarrassing amount of time towards. But I love it. If I didn't, I would have stopped a long time ago. When I do find that old book with those yellow, stained pages, I get this rush - like I've found a hundred dollar bill in the pocket of old jeans I was about to throw out. I have always been drawn to reference books, old anatomy textbooks, encyclopedias... all of those sorts. There's something in me that wants to recreate the images I see in them. To breathe new life into something almost forgotten.

What does handmade mean to you?

Something made with what you've got - and with love. Something meant to be shared and treasured because there will never be anything else like it again. Handmade is the best.

Who has been most influential in your craft?

My parents. My mom decorated our home with botanical prints earlier than I can remember. I thought they were so ugly and stupid... they certainly got my attention. I wished my mom would frame Batman in the bathroom and the Joker in the dining room instead. But she's a stubborn woman.

My dad used to share his old reference books with me as a kid. He'd read me excerpts to put me to sleep. It worked. I can't help but think that pieces of those zoology pictures and bits of those informative paragraphs must have seeped into my dreams as a result. My dad worked as an animal rights advocate my entire childhood. His passion for not only the flora and fauna of the world, but the connectedness of all living things never ceased to amaze and inspire me.

My mom is a huge supporter of my art. She always made sure I had a quiet, safe space to create as a child. She still gets excited when I write or draw or indulge in any other form of self expression. She's my number one fan.

My dad passed away when I was 20. He didn't think I liked college very much and told me to pack up and go to Europe to "find myself" once he passed. He just wanted me to be happy and free. I did go to Europe, but I also found my way back home where I indeed feel very happy and very free.

When did you know you were an artist/maker?

When my parents stopped yelling at me for scribbling on the underside of the coffee table. When I was 3 it was deviant, but once I was 4 it was ART.

How would you describe your creative process?

I need the creative process. I need it to detox, to zone out and then in again, to relax, to get angry, to cry, to sleep. I love it and I do it for me. It's just a fluke that other people love it, too.

If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?

Egon Schiele. His obsession with the human form and gravitation towards gruesome renderings of anatomical ugliness kills me. Love it. Love him.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?

I take time off and a step back until I remember what I need to do.

Where would you like to be in ten years?

Same apartment, same city, but probably a different cat.