Groovy Career

Katie Sokoler

Katie Sokoler
Freelance Photographer/Street Artist

Having a conversation with Katie Sokoler is a cheery and colorful experience. She has a positive view of the world she shares through her art, her writing, and her connections with people. Less than a year ago, Katie graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology where she majored in Photography. She has been on a wonderful ride every since! In addition to her career as a freelance photographer and street artist, Katie pens a blog, ColorMeKatie.blogspot.com, which is read by thousands of happy readers around the world.
If you want to view a burst of happiness and creativity – and put a smile on your face – check out her blog and also the video below. Katie’s groovy career is the perfect example of using your talents, following your passions, and doing what makes you truly happy.

When you were a little girl, what did you want to do when you grew up?

Everything! Everything interested me. I focused on acting, dancing, and playing music. I took lots of acting classes and also art classes. Some days I would think, “I want to be a vet” or some other career. I wasn’t really decisive about my career then.

As a teenager, I focused more on acting. But during my junior year in high school I found out about photography and I threw everything else away. With photography, I can combine all my other interests

When people ask you what you do, what do you say?

I call myself a freelance photographer. Photography ties it all my interests together. I can do performance art, acting, and crafty things.

I do self-portraits that involve acting. I actually met my boyfriend through acting. We were both hired as extras for an episode of The Sopranos. When we were told to play a couple, we spent the whole day dating—and it worked! We just kept dating. We always joke that if anyone yells “Cut!” we’ll break up.

What was your major in college?

I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City for photography. I had to convince my Dad to let me study art because he was worried. But I felt it was the right choice for me and he finally agreed. He is very proud of the work that I do.

School was tough in the beginning because I just did the traditional work that the professors expected of me. They didn’t really know what to do with me – some professors think art is pain and you have to come from misery. But my art is so cheery and it helps people. After the second year, I just started to do my own thing.

What was your first street art project?
It was my thesis project, the Brooklyn Thought Bubbles. I started by placing photographs such as hearts, cupcakes, and dancing ladies in paper thought bubbles and putting them up around Brooklyn. Then I waited for strangers to walk under them and snapped their pictures. Before I put them up, I had no idea what it would be like. But I got some wonderful photos and I thought, “This is working!”

How do you make a living?

Tons of random stuff. I work for gothamist, a New York City news and events web site. They send me around the city to shoot fun events and restaurant openings. I also shoot for Improv Everywhere, a group that stages performances around the city to make people smile and leave with a story to tell. We do this for fun but sometimes we get paid. A few large companies have sponsored our videos and we get flown out to other countries to do our performances.

I also shoot portraits, couples, and sometimes weddings. I get hired to create street art and photograph it. I’m also working on two books right now.

What the great challenge of your groovy career?
I just graduated in May and I just started my blog a year ago so I’m learning to manage the business side of my work and all the email and requests that I receive. I would love to get an intern eventually to help me. When I was in school, I had no idea that a career like this existed. I thought I would work for a magazine or be a photographer’s assistant. Last week I met up with one of my professors to seek his advice about managing the business side of my work.

What’s a great workday for you?

I love street art. I get excited about putting something up and not knowing what I am going to get. I love to be surprised. I love working with paper and combining it with my photography. It’s relaxing to cut and work with paper.

It’s fun when I hang my art up on a wall on a street. I wait for the right people to walk by and wait for the perfect moment to take the picture. When that happens, it feels so good.

How do people on the street respond when they see you taking pictures of your street art?
Most people are curious. Some people worry about their images being used on the Internet in a negative way. I have to convince them it is for good.

What advice do you have for college students?

Trust yourself and don’t listen to others’ views of what you should do. Go with what you feel and go with your path. Everyone views the world in a different way. Don’t play it safe.

visit: ColorMeKatie