About Krystie Rose
Krystie Rose Millich is an award-winning Mixed Media Mosaic Artist and Educator working and living in the Denver, Colorado area. Krystie Rose creates original and custom mosaic artwork for exhibits, individuals, residences, businesses, and public art and has been a full-time artist and educator since 2009. She has a great love for the vibrant, colorful art palettes of the world, especially in Mexican art, imagery, and folklore as well as the colors of India and its art. Krystie Rose travels to Mexico 1-2 times a year for inspiration, scrap materials, and learning. She has always had a love of collage, sculpture, and assemblage and these styles very prominently display themselves within her mosaic mixed-media work. Krystie Rose works to blend these parts of her world and make bright, happy, and inspiring art.
Her story from Krystie Rose: “I have had a variety of careers in my life, from social work to business sales and have completed college degrees resulting in a B.A. in Social Work & Women’s Studies and an M.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Social Justice. I embarked on this life of being a full-time artist and art educator in the Fall of 2009, after leaving a position in the non-profit world that was squashing my spirit. After having survived and experienced many different things in my life, I was at a point where I was not willing to work in an unhealthy or unsuitable environment. I also ended up having several life-altering experiences just after leaving that job that, coupled with other experiences in my recent past (which I didn’t know were so significant at the time!), helped show me the path that I should be traveling and what I was truly meant to do in my life; Art and Educating!”
I had been an artist as a child, from the time I was very little, through high school. As a child in the Pacific Northwest, I was constantly creating art, whether it was at home, in school, with my Sister-in-Law, Cindy, at a camp, or at Vacation Bible School. Speaking of V.B.S., I went while at my Grandparents’ in the summers, because I loved all the crafting and cooking and fun activities. Recently, while going through some old pictures at my parents’, I found this photo and couldn’t believe what it showed…MY FIRST MOSAIC!!! I must’ve been about 4 years old, and there I am holding a mosaic (cross) I made! Kismet!
I think that part of the child-me really felt the need to infuse vibrant color into what I saw as an extremely dreary rainy world in Western Washington state. I took art classes every year that I was in school and I constantly entered (and sometimes won!) local art contests. When I graduated, I even received the “Best Senior in Art” award that year! I’m sure that my family and friends figured I would pursue art after high school, but, the “responsible/logical” side of me decided that I didn’t want to be a ‘starving artist’, so I decided to combine my art, writing, and school paper experience and pursue advertising/journalism. After a few introductory courses, I was feeling a yearning to ‘make a difference’, so, after some soul- and career-searching (and a short sabbatical to earn more money while being a nanny in New York), I decided to explore Social Work. It turned out to be a terrific fit for me; I will always love and appreciate the discipline’s ability to show the ways in which most people can help most other people, in a way that is non-dictatorial and based on everyday, workable, non-disease models.
After graduating from college with a Social Work degree, I worked in Washington state and then Colorado in non-profits and higher education for nearly 12 years. I worked with a variety of issues; from domestic violence and sexual assault to children’s and adult’s self-sufficiency services, to youth leadership and community organizing. After 10 years, when yet another of my short term funded non-profit jobs was coming to a close, many people I knew suggested I take my relationship building skills and put them to use in sales. I took their advice and pursued sales; the kind that involves ongoing relationship building with long-term customers. I worked for manufacturers and sold to retailers for 7 years, managing a sales territory from the size of a large metro area up to a two-state area. I sold greeting cards, stuffed animals, party supplies, home and garden décor, and artists’ gift and home décor lines. I think it’s ironic now that I became so versed in selling others’ artwork and that I was able to see the retail and wholesale side of selling gift, home, and garden décor. Hmmm…maybe that would help me in selling mosaics…? “…Everything comes back around…?”
After leaving my last “job” in the Fall of 2009, I was feeling pretty lost. Like I said earlier, there were significant things that happened during that time that taught me that “Life is Short”, that I needed to “Make Every Day Count”, and that “The Time to Do It is Now”. While trying to figure out what I was going to do in the next stage of my life, I read several books, talked to lots of people, and attended several excellent workshops. One of the first workshops I signed up for was a beginner’s mosaic course through Kashi Kari Gallery (http://www.kashikari.com) in Denver. Before that time, I had been book-taught on mosaics, had produced a few pieces on my own, and planned to start on a mosaic kitchen backsplash in my house. Abbas and Roya at Kashi Kari were supportive and encouraging and taught me the things I wanted to learn, in a wonderful environment. Just being around their art is inspiring in itself and each day that I came home from their studio, I was more and more inspired to follow this life.
Some other significant workshops that I attended at that time, while trying to ‘figure out what I was gonna do with my life’ (this time!), were Barbara Winter’s “Making a Living Without a Job” and Tama Kieves’ “Unleash Your Calling–Creating the Work and Life You Love”. Both were through Colorado Free University (where I taught mosaics from 2010-2013, but had been a student for years; www.freeu.com ) and were excellent; just what I needed at just the right time. Barbara’s (http://www.barbarawinter.com ) concept basically revolves around not working for other people and finding a variety of fun and inspiring ways to make a living. She has a wealth of her own and others’ experience to draw on and I am really glad that I finally got to one of her excellent workshops. Tama’s work is about supporting people in finding what they were truly meant to do in life; listening to your inner spirit and following your bliss. Tama’s (http://www.awakeningartistry.com) was an extremely transformative and emotional workshop for me; I felt like I’d been through 6 weeks of therapy after 3 hours! I highly recommend either of these inspiring ‘experts’ if it sounds like they can offer something you’re looking for. Both women travel the world to offer their workshops and retreats, are published authors of excellent books, and can provide one-on-one coaching or consulting.
There were a few other experiences I had that I think have come full circle to my present situation. One has to do with an entrepreneurial spirit and once again, sales. When I was about 12, one of my step brothers had a chain of plant stores nearby that I would go work in on the weekends, for something to do and to make some cash. They gave me a LOT of freedom, even leaving me to manage the store on my own at times! Looking back, I still can’t believe I was this little 12 year old kid, working in the plant store all day and getting to make my own money! I guess it shouldn’t be hard to believe, when you think of the generations of immigrants to this country who have done the same exact thing! I also think that my experiences with the DECA classes and club in my high school were significant for me in honing an independent, entrepreneurial spirit. Through my involvement there, I was able to work for the
marketing department at the local mall, where I assisted with a variety of events, from Christmas parades to fashion shows to special guest appearances. I was lucky enough to have excellent managers who were very accomplished yet let me have the freedom to operate independently and very creatively.
Another significant contribution to my life being what it is now is that fact that I had parents who supported my art as much as they could at every step of the way. Almost every gift involved some sort of art or craftwork; I was constantly stocked with a plethora of crayons, markers, papers, paints, etc. They never tried to steer me in a certain direction or tell me what to do (which, as they and I know, would’ve been futile anyway!), but instead sat back and tried to support my various endeavors. I am SO extremely happy to report that one of my current greatest cheerleaders since I made the decision to do art full-time is my Mother, who has been what I would call absolutely ‘tickled pink’. (Of course, I’ve whined a little and wondered why she didn’t prod me onto this path a few years earlier, but, ahhh; that’s a Mom for ya; wanting you to find the path for yourself!) My Husband is what I would call my “Absolute, #1, Supremo, Fantastico, Super Wonderful, Greatest” supporter that I have. He, like my Mom, was thrilled to think that I would pursue art full time and has continually encouraged me to follow that direction. He loves that I am doing what my true inner spirit wants me to do and supports me at every step along the way. My little puggie (and previously my kitty) are reliable companions on a day to day basis and make me laugh every day. I also have a slew of great friends that support and encourage me, telling me how amazed and impressed they are that I’m following my bliss. Wow; am I blessed!
Lastly, I don’t think it can go without saying that I have always been, and will always be, an Activist and a Feminist at heart. From the time I was just a ‘wee one’, I was the one to ask, “but why?”, challenge authority, and be seen as ‘the troublemaker’ (just for speaking up, of course!). Following the Status Quo is not something I aspire to, nor feel comfortable living within. I may not look or seem like some ‘radical’ upon first glance, but my heart will always be in helping others, making the world a better place, connecting the personal with the political, supporting and encouraging change, and fighting sexism, racism, homophobia, and all the other issues preventing equality and social justice. What better place for an artist?! Activist-land! I have always admired artists’ ability to blend politics with art, in fact; I don’t think they can hardly be separated. And, the long history of creativity and art being born out of pain is one that I have always honored and admired.
My work is heavily influenced by my love of Mexico, Mexican and American folk and pop art, activist art, and social justice. I’m especially fond of bright color palettes, incorporating multiple elements, textures, and styles, and utilizing old, recycled, personal, and “junk” items into my pieces. I was always especially attracted to ceramic tile mosaics and now utilize ceramics in a majority of my mosaics. I consider my style to be contemporary art and I am not interested in “going with the flow” in the medium of mosaics or replicating the classic mosaic work style. I continually strive to create better and more creative artwork and get ongoing training from a variety of other professional artists. I love incorporating newly-honed skills and approaches into artwork for my commission clients; creating artwork that is reflective of their vision, needs, and setting. I am an active Member Artist at the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council (CHAC) Gallery in Denver’s Santa Fe Arts District, 40West Arts in Lakewood, CO, Colorado Mosaic Artists, Contemporary Mosaic Artists, and the Society for American Mosaic Artists (SAMA).
If you are interested in seeing more of my original artwork or commissioning a mural, sign, backdrop, etc. for your home or business, please contact me here. I look forward to hearing from you!