Behind the Texture
with Kass Wilson
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Kass Wilson is the owner and creative director of WallsTreat, an award-winning decorative artistry studio in Alpharetta, GA. Kass has had a lifelong fascination with depth of color, dimension, and design. This is what motivates her ongoing journey as an artist in the world of advanced level decorative finishes. She has been involved with the design industry for over 25 years and appreciates the opportunity to work with some of the most talented designers, architects, and builders in the area.
Inspired by a love of nature and a flair for the unconventional, Kass combines multiple mediums and advanced techniques to create innovative effects on virtually any surface. The vast array of options provides solutions that are suitable for any style. This is what elevates her finishes to a level of artistry. She is passionate about her work and it shows. “I love it when my finishes offer both visual as well as tactile intrigue. Success for me is when you want to touch my art.”
How did you get into decorative arts and was it a career you saw for yourself early on?
Torn between the love of design vs. the fascination of science and medicine, my choice was the safe traditional role of Nursing. After 8 years working in the ER, then the coordinator of an air ambulance company, my next move was medical sales. Then there comes a time when your true passion takes possession of your heart.
My entry into the design industry began when my next adventure was a job selling commercial office furniture. My previous sales skills transferred nicely and it fed my hunger for design. During that time, one of the advantages was the opportunity to work with some of the most talented designers and architects in Atlanta. It was a lesson about the layers of design, what inspires each element and how they come together to create stunning interiors. It was apparent that a key element is the detailed finishes on each surface. This observation started my quest to learn decorative finishes.
What influences do you think shaped your approach to decorative art?
The creative mind never sleeps. Being somewhat “inventive” and having a fascination with form, color, texture and nature, it was always fun to create anything that incorporated these elements. Talented resources crossed my path who were willing to share their processes. This not only included outstanding finish instructors but also other trades on jobsites. You can learn from every craftsman … carpenters, flooring contractors, painters, tile setters and concrete artists to name a few. Architects and designers appreciate my desire to learn. They have been willing to share the reasons behind their selections because I do not compete with them. I just do one piece of their puzzle … but I do it well.
What would you say is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome?
- Being in commission sales prepares you for times of feast and famine. So, you just plan ahead. But I was also accustomed to having a full support staff available. It was intimidating to think of being the chief cook and bottle washer and wear all of the hats that are needed to run a business.
- Having no formal art or design training meant having to be self taught. The challenge was the extensive gathering of knowledge about everything from design theory to construction basics and, of course, the plethora of products that are available to achieve innovative results.
- It has been a lot of work. But, if you love what you do, you will never work a day in your life. I have never looked back.
What are your thoughts on Pantone’s color of the year Pantone 18-1750 Viva Magenta?
In the past hundreds of years we have repeated history in design and style. These days, everything moves at warp-speed. Interior design is no different. Most trends start with inspiration from the past. What is old becomes new again. How many dining rooms did we paint back in 2007 with Chili Pepper red?
Over the past couple of years, the trend of everything in gray and muted tones has been a reflection of the general attitude during COVID. Viva Magenta seems like a rebellion to our boredom. But with plenty of turbulence in our future, I don’t see the calm of the muted tones going away quickly. Punches of this bold color in small doses will bring some excitement and energy back into our homes.
What are some of your guilty pleasures?
One of the perks of having your own business is that you control your own schedule. Mine gets planned according to the 5-10 day forecast. On pretty days, you can find me out at a farm riding horses through lush pastures and wooded trails. This is my place of solace that completely clears my mind of concerns. It always leaves me refreshed and filled with creative energy.
Any words of wisdom for those just starting out?
To evolve into a lucrative business, you need to become comfortable wearing many hats with all aspects of business. As artists, we are not wired with this mindset but it is necessary to succeed. It can be intimidating to learn about budgeting, sales and marketing, accounting and legalities. You also need to take on the role of fireman, crisis manager and sometimes even a family therapist!
One of the most valuable time investments has been learning Photoshop. This is such a visual industry. For what we do, seeing is believing. When you meet someone, you have only 30 seconds to capture their attention. Good photos tell the story of your talents and can be used for many facets of your business. These include sales, social marketing, brochures, websites, publications, idea files as well as articles and publications.
It is not uncommon to take 20 images of a completed project and end up with only 1 or 2 “money shots”. If you know some Photoshop editing tricks, the odds get much higher. You can use them over and over, keep them forever and even change the color tones as current trends evolve.
Hiring a professional photographer is tough on the budget. Fortunately, today’s cell phones take GREAT quality photos so no need to invest in professional equipment. There are unlimited videos on line that will make your learning curve easier. Just become committed to taking plenty of images to document your beautiful work.
Explore more of her work at www.kasswilson.com.
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