Studio Visit
Kate Miss

PHOTOS BY DEBBIE CARLOS

The fact that Los Angeles designer Kate Miss has, since we shot her Koreatown workspace last fall, chopped off her hair, adopted a dog, and moved studios not once but twice — the second time abandoning her freelance graphic design life altogether for a full-time position at Karen Kimmel — may tell you just how busy we’ve been around these parts. But it could just as easily be a reflection of how much Miss craves change. She’s the only person we’ve ever heard utter the words: “I love moving.” And yet that peculiarly peripatetic quality is what defines Miss — it’s what brought her from Seattle to New York and finally to LA, and why she’s equal parts known as a blogger, a photographer, a jewelry maker, and a graphic designer.

That Miss would follow a creative path was always something of a given; her father was an artist and owned an upholstery business while her mother and brother are both musicians. But the fact that’s she’s found her way to four different creative avenues has something to do with her desire for financial stability against a backdrop of constant change. “I do a lot of different things, which can be obnoxious to explain to some people,” Miss laughs. “But I’m mainly a graphic designer; that’s what I went to school for. As a teenager, I was very wild but I’ve always been practically minded. I was like how can I turn my creative energy into something that will actually be a job. I decided on graphic design because I wanted a job that was creative and fun, I needed something that seemed more stable for how I am.”

“I was always interested in photography but I didn’t think I was enough of a go-getter to make a career of it. And in New York, I had an office job that wasn’t creatively fulfilling, and my husband would get annoyed with how restless I was all the time. He was like, ‘you need to find a hobby.’ That’s where the jewelry making came in.”

It’s only since moving to Los Angeles, however, that her disparate interests seem to have coalesced into one. Miss makes her jewelry, photographs her own designs using her girl tribe of creative friends as models, and designs the lookbooks; she’s offered similar services for creatives like Jennifer Parry Dodge of Ermie. “LA has been amazing for both my husband and I, creatively and personally,” Miss says. “For my photography, it’s definitely influenced what I’m taking pictures of; pretty much every print I sell in my shop was taken in or around LA. And for my jewelry, there’s such an interesting vibe here. My husband calls it a ‘desert witch girl vibe,’ which is hilarious but I love it. Ever since we moved to the East Side, I’ve really fallen in love with LA, just all the plant life and the sunshine. I don’t even think I realized how much I needed that. The sunshine is just so amazing. It definitely  has its downsides; the traffic is no joke. But for the most part, where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.”

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Miss in her former studio, which was located in Koreatown. "Before we moved to Koreatown, everyone warned us not to. But we had lived in New York; we knew about grimy areas. But we didn’t have a parking spot and it became a nightmare. We’d circle for hours. The studio was so cheap and gigantic, but then we moved to a place with another bedroom and My husband Will has a degree in sculpture, but now he works for an art-handling company and he didn’t want to be making large-scale sculpture anymore so we didn’t need all that space."

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“Will is from Phoenix, and every time we drive there, we stop in this town called Quartzsite. There are tables full of gems and rocks and minerals, and I have a massive collection. My friend Bianca gave me the air plant, and the photo I took in Joshua Tree. The wreath — we got married in September, and originally I was going to make a bunch of these; this is a remnant. I love that flower crown look, but I didn’t want to later look at it and be like ‘That’s so 2013 wedding.’”

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“I feel like such an organized person, this is like the one thing I didn’t clean up! On the second shelf, I have an absurd collection of tools, and I never throw anything away, so that’s what that is.”

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“These posters are by Andy Beach from Reference Library. I must have left a comment on his blog saying ‘if you ever sell these again, I would love to buy one.’ He sent me an email saying ‘Hey, my wife reads your blog, I’d love to send you some posters.’ I was crazy excited, and then he sent me this gigantic box of like 20 posters, all leftover from this show that he did. We have these ones, we have Too Blessed 2 B Stressed, and my favorite one, which I keep at home, says Awesomely Awesome. I love his blog and everything he does.”

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“That little guy walking on the card started as a gif; it says ‘Haters gonna hate.’ I went through a period of time on my blog where it was just bad comment after bad comment, and I wanted to quit. Luckily I feel like comments have died so much on blogs it doesn’t matter any more. The board of stuff is just an inspiration board, things people send or that I’ve made. My favorite thing is at the bottom, it’s called Cat Swanson, it’s a cat Ron Swanson.”

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Jewelry making station.

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“My friend Laura has a company called Lulu Dee. These are test prints of her linocuts.”

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"The Save the Date I designed for our wedding, and below that is my lookbook from a few seasons ago."

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An inspiration board including a button from the premiere of Miranda July's "The Future," Lumpy Space Princess from Miss's favorite show, Adventure Time.

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A plant-holder turned towel rack from Pigeon Toe Ceramics.

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“That’s a set Will was building for a short film he was making. Everyone who walked in would be like ‘Beetlejuice!’ It’s a little graveyard scene. We filmed live action parts that he’ll superimpose on to it. I have a nice camera so he makes me film stuff for him.”

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“He melded together all these action figures. He’s very into sci-fi, so I think it was some type of sci-fi thriller.”

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Sketches for jewelry, including the crescent Miss made for her own wedding. “I make these cast bronze necklaces; I carve them out of wax and then someone in LA casts them. They’re the only things that have stayed constant in my line, because they go well with whatever else I end up making. The season before this one I started using metal clay instead of wax, which is clay that has metallic particles in it. You can form and cut and shape it; you let it dry and then I have a mini kiln where I’d fire it. The downside is it’s so much work; you have to fire each piece for 5 hours and sit next to the kiln, and it was such a jump in my price point that it didn’t work out.”

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“They looked like the cast ones but they were way bigger and thicker. My thought was it would be cheaper and more work for me, but it ended up being so much more work for me. But I still love those pieces; they were like little amulets.”

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Photos from the concrete necklace lookbook Miss did in collaboration with her husband. “Will had been bugging me for a long time to collaborate. We have similar taste, but he takes way more risks because he comes from an art rather than a design background. We had to meet in the middle. He concepted the whole thing, I made a Pinterest board.”

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“I knew I wanted it to be colorful because the necklaces are neutral. He had talked about making some weird sculptures, so we went around our apartment found things that we broke, and he made some plaster forms. This was fun because I don’t do many shoots that are formal light setups.” Go here to see more of Miss's jewelry!