Aunia Kahn is a painter, tarot deck designer, musician and…well, what isn’t she? Her art has a surrealist bent, with self-portraits full of symbolism and colour. The final product is a hybrid, melding photography, painting, collage and digital art.
IFP: Please introduce yourself in 140 characters or less.
AK: Aunia Kahn: Tall, Love, Art, Music, Design, Soul, Victorian Era, WWII, Jeeps, Smoothies, Animals, and all things Inspiring.
IFP: I know that you are a self-taught artist. How and why did you veer towards art?
AK: There has always been an interest in creating things like most children from birth, but what really got me to step up to the plate and take art seriously as a career was during a time in my life that I was falling apart and the only thing that made sense to me was making art, music or creating something. Once I had a pretty decent portfolio, a friend of mine suggested that I share my work publicly and I was in total disagreement at the idea since the work was not, in my mind, “anything for public consumption”. It was dark, brooding, personal, telling, and very intimate, it was my visual representation of a person journal and it told secrets of my life. A time came when I reconsidered for a very important show and when I saw the impact my art had on people observing it, I was captivated at what I could not only do for myself, but for others by sharing myself so intimately.
IFP: Your work is very personal and you often use yourself as a model. Was it difficult to feature yourself so openly?
AK: It was never difficult to use myself as the model, to portray the works I did, because it was right from my soul and it is how I work, but I found it very difficult to initially share the artworks on a public forum. I spent the first few months of exhibiting by hiding back in the shadows of my events and even shedding a few tears in their bathrooms. It was hard to be such an open book, but overall, it was healing and I am very glad I took that jump – I would never change it.
IFP: Can you talk a bit about your technique and the materials you use?
AK: My main gallery of work, it is photography, collage and then painting the final image, which then is finalized on the computer. I enjoy being able to take different and varying pieces and melding them together into a coherent creation. I’ve always liked math and puzzles too, so the way I work, both subjects play a large part in creating what I do.
IFP: Is there a painting that has been especially difficult to complete and how did you handle such a challenge?
AK: The mixed media work that I have found the most difficult creating, are works that are held within a constraint from another source. For example, if I am asked to use myself as the center focus and create work based on a theme, it doesn’t work well for me because almost all my work comes from emotional and soul state of being. Although, if I am asked to do a commission work, then I find using another model gives me the ability to stand away from the work and create on another level. I think one of the most difficult works to look back on after the creation is I am Everything, I am Nothing, as it hits a really raw spot for me, as much of my older work did since it was about overcoming my past.
IFP: How did you become involved with the Silver Era Tarot?
AK: I fell in love with Tarot a few years ago, when I was introduced to it. At first, I was a bit put off by the conceived taboo nature, but once I researched it myself, so as not to pass judgment on something I was not educated on, I fell in absolute love. Creating a full, 78-card tarot deck is a wonderful dream and accomplishment, and a very large challenge. Still can’t believe it’s finished; it’s a very surreal feeling.
IFP: What was the process of designing the deck like? How long did it take to complete?
AK: It took about 4½ years. When I got to card 40 out of the 78 completed, I was almost ready to talk myself out of the project. I felt I had bit off more than I could chew; at that point, we had finally secured a publisher and I was locked into a tight deadline. Although it was a hard project, it was a very enjoyable one. Each card was like another piece to a story of the history of Tarot and I am honoured to have been able to get though 78 original works of art. Sticking to the traditional meaning and visual symbolism that renders them usable, but also putting a modern day spin on the deck, making it a one-of-a-kind work of art.
IFP: You also play music. Does music have an influence on your paintings and design? Do you listen to music while you paint? What kind of music?
AK: I love music! I was creating music way before I was doing art regularly. I actually started into graphic design when I needed a website for my solo music project, Afterchain, and I wanted to create my own CD covers. There is little-to-no silence in my house. I have the classic radio station on downstairs at all times for my fur kids and there is always something playing as I create. I think music helps to ride along with the mood I am feeling when creating a piece of artwork. Some artists that I adore are: Obviously, the classical masters like Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, etc. But I have a fondness for from Dead Can Dance to Lady Gaga and Tori Amos and Madonna. I believe so many musicians can touch me that it’s just too long of a list to put out and I would hate to forget someone!
IFP: Aside from music and painting, you’ve also written a book, Obvious Remote Chaos, which contains some of your poems. What topics do you tackle? And who are some of your favourite poets?
AK: There are a lot of past trials and difficulties, successes and failures in the book. I let the reader into a little bit of everything: the bleak, the beautiful and a few that may tread both lines. As well, included are some song lyrics and photography to keep the pace moving and give readers a more varied inclusion into what I feel and love. Favourites? Like music, if you touch me I love you, from Poe to Frost and unknown independents, the mixture is a concoction that has no recipe.
IFP: You seem to have so many things going on at the same time. Are you a very organized person? More organic? How do you manage so many different interests at once?
AK: I am very organized. A long time ago, I used to go into businesses and organize their filing systems and business structures to help them run a company more efficiently and that has pooled over to how I work. Art is a business, and it needs to be fun, but I feel to be successful you can’t just be flighty and fly by the seat of your pants. There are deadlines and things that need to be done and many people to treat well along the way.
IFP: What are you working on right now?
AK: Stuff…some secret, some in-idea phases and others, well, just rattling around my head. The final touches of The Lowbrow Tarot project coming to Le Luz de Jesus in October as well as always looking inward and outward for inspiration.
IFP: If you could travel to any time and place, where would you go?
AK: I would love to go to the 40s/50s, which would be wonderful. I have a good friend who is 70 and after hearing all her stories, I just want to go back and have a soda with her at the local diner!
IFP: What is your favourite movie? Favourite book?
AK: One of my all-time favourite films is Shawshank Redemption and my current favourite book is The Knife Man, Blood, Body Snatching and The Birth of Modern Surgery by Wendy More.
IFP: Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
AK: Dear Readers, thank you for taking the time to read this – you rock!