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In Conversation with Katrina Eugenia

I am so happy to share this tender moment in conversation with a woman who I’ve been inspired by since we first met. Katrina Eugenia is a painter, photographer, creative director and brand founder with a poetic, sensual, pure, confident & creative style. We met while I was working in the beauty industry and Katrina was a featured artist, customizing various pieces, turning something we use everyday like a powder compact or makeup bag into a treasured keepsake. I hope this conversation sparks something within or makes you feel seen or connected in some way and at the very least you’ll enjoy a peek inside this sweet moment between two women with a love for this perfectly imperfect existence.

Tell me about Katrina Eugenia, the Woman, the Artist…

I'm a painter and a photographer and in an ideal world, I would just be paid to paint all the time. But I wouldn’t throw away photography because I’ve had a love for it since I was a kid and these things are very much a part of me.

One of my superpowers is making people look on the outside how they feel on the inside. I'm like a talking mirror and it's all about lighting and energy.

I'm engaged to someone who feels like more than a soulmate. He's so extraordinary and I'm so grateful to have found him. We went to high school together and reconnected a decade later. Life is really full circle. You know, all this time my love was across the river and I never knew it. One of the biggest signs that he's the one, is that I see us evolving and thriving as individuals and as a couple. He has jiu jitsu and I have this passion for art so it’s like we’re coming into this marriage as if we both had our own children because there’s this other thing we’re devoted to. I see us inspiring one another and pushing one another. So, I would say those are the things that compose me: photography, painting and Matt.

That’s so important to have your own passions to pour into especially in partnership.

What comes up hearing you and based on what I know about you cosmically, your sun sign is Sagittarius and you’re a Generator in human design. So first, I think of Sag as very optimistic and philosophical, you know, people who I think can really fluctuate between two extremes of optimism and kind of deep diving into the psyche or operating within the high-highs and low-lows emotionally, energetically, and physically.

Yes. I mean, you summed it up. Both of those things you said are very true. I'm definitely an extreme person. I don't ever feel like I'm ever in a neutral place. I'm either in this phase of optimism or in this phase of Who am I? Why do I even try? I don't even understand what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. I can get very low. Like I can really go the other direction and I'm never really in between them. It's exhausting. So that rings true.

That’s so interesting to hear because our interactions have always been when you are doing the things that you love and I’ve gotten to really perceive you sort of through your passions. Something else that comes up, for you as a Generator, you have this energy that’s totally meant to be very magnetic, specifically when you’re allowing yourself to follow those things that do light you up. And really follow them. One aspect of Generators is going down rabbit holes where your excitement takes you. Then another part of it is trusting that when you lead with that intention - to do what lights you up - everyone around you benefits from it. So listening to you talk and seeing you light up about your painting, photography and your relationship really resonate there. Speaking of… What is something that gets you out of bed in the morning?

You know it's funny, no matter how many bad days I have (and I have so many) I still seem to be so excited for the next day. I am that kind of a person. Sometimes I think it's hard for me to go to sleep because I'm so excited to wake up. I think it’s that optimistic part of me. The human heart is an irrational, crazy thing, to continue on and on and on, no matter how hard or bad things get. And the human heart has to be irrational. It's how it survives, I think. I am someone who is excited to get up every day. I love to work, in general, whether it's for myself or whoever, I love to keep busy and to take on the day. So I am excited to get up in the mornings. Sometimes - not even sometimes I would say quite often - probably more than the average person, days can go south for me, I just. I don't know… I'm not great at living, I don't think? I'm not as put together as everyone else. I'm an artist, you know? There's this movie about Van Gogh that Julian Schnabel made that I really, really love and I really relate to it. In some ways the movie's tragic and in some ways it's really inspiring. There’s so much of it that I relate to in terms of… I paint because it's the only thing I can do. It's the only time when I don't feel crazy. It's the only time when I'm thriving in the world and so I think days go south for me because it's hard for me to adult. It's hard for me to function like everyone else. But I’m still so eager to try every day. Like I said, I think the human heart is just a funny, irrational thing.

I love the way you describe the heart as irrational because the heart isn’t logical and that’s the beauty of it and even our emotions. I think it’s when we expect these parts of us to be rational that we can get into trouble or frustrations. I’m curious to know more about your process for creating. How do you come up with ideas?

In light of the rabbit hole thing, I'm definitely someone who dives in. However, when you're working a full time job, sometimes there are just ideas that you jot down and it's frustrating that you're not able to get to them faster or in some cases, at all. The process is really a result of life. Something triggers something else and next thing I know, I've got this idea on how I’m going to do it and it can be engrossing at times. Good ideas are often right under your nose and it takes something ridiculous to make you realize that. And then you're like, duh, this is what I should have been doing the whole time. I'll give you an example. I started Fairmount Laundry, this East Coast clothing label that celebrates New York and New Jersey, the two places I call home. I started it in 2018 and I made it all about one of my hobbies, this study in the “Victorian Language of Flowers.” I thought I’m going to make these t-shirts with flowers and what they symbolize and no one else gave a shit about this. It was such a dumb idea, But meanwhile, Fairmount Laundry wasn't a dumb idea. I made this about page that I still stand by, that's so moving about why I wanted to start Fairmount Laundry and why I love New York, New Jersey and the East Coast and what separates us from everyone else. Like the about section to me is like what it will always be. Then the way people responded to the East Coast T-shirts and sweatshirts that I made, they’re our best sellers because there is so much pride and I can't tell you how many of those I ship to California because anyone living in California who is from the East Coast wants to represent out there. So, I produced all of these other thoughts first when the answer was right under my nose. It was something I was already passionate about and knew. It's just a matter of trial and error and finding your way and also finding the silver lining in any situation.

Wow. Well first of all, where was I because I DO give a shit about the Victorian language of flowers! That is something I’d be obsessed with. But It’s interesting to think about the “right” idea that was under your nose the whole time and maybe it was a little bit of discerning what aspects of your creative self were meant to be put into the world through this brand and which might be for something else entirely. What also comes up is that clear distinction of two things you love, one this study in flowers and their symbolism and the other this symbol for something so deeply meaningful to you through your connection with the east coast and your family history that seems to resonate so broadly. So tell me more about your process for creation, projects, work…

I never know what the day is going to bring or what email I'm going to get or. What idea I'm going to have or what's going to come through, what email I'm going to get. I’m such a hustler, it doesn't matter how many emails go unanswered I continue writing. If there’s companies I want to work for, I will stalk every person in the company on Linkedin, email and call them. I’ll find someone else who might know someone there or whatever. You know .001% of these things ever go through, but I keep trying and I don't give up and for some reason, that really drives me.

Even with the job I have now, it's really consuming all of my time. I'm not putting out any of my own content. I'm not really in my studio except on the weekends, and everybody needs time off at some point to just not be doing anything in order to be creative. It's so vital to the creative process. Still there are so many silver linings. I'm so inspired and I'm on a great team of people who I'm learning from and we’re becoming friends. I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm seeing the sunrise every day, which is new for me because I have to get up so early for work and everything. There are these silver linings even in hard situations that can be inspiring and lead to creative ideas as a result. For the sake of anyone hearing this, sometimes certain messages just aren't redundant, we need to hear them over and over again no matter how simple they are or no matter how often we hear them. Listening to your heart, following your heart we have so many answers within us, instead of always seeking these answers in other places. It's like an exercise that you have to do as often as possible. That's a huge part of my creative process.

My work is its best in any capacity, no matter who I'm working for, painting or shooting or writing, is listening to your heart and truly acting from there and not acting as a result of something you saw on Instagram, which I'm guilty of, or your concerns about how you're going to be perceived for listening to your heart. People often think I don't care what others think and that I truly say what's on my mind. That’s not true. I think I'm very influenced by the projections and opinions of others. We’re all guilty of it so if you can just listen to your heart, go a little deeper, a lot of times we have the answers. I also think gratitude and prayer or any version of that anyone wants to do, like being grateful really feeds into my creative process.

You know, painting, it's like you said earlier, when you do what you love, everyone else around you sort of benefits from it. I feel that way with painting. People are happy when I do it. Whether I'm painting for someone like I used to at Neiman Marcus, where we met, or whether I'm painting, and they're inspired by it just for the sake of seeing painting. People respond to it. People light up when I paint for them and there's nothing more fulfilling.

It's also just that I feel connected to something higher and something more when I’m painting.

Absolutely. Being able to tell the difference between the voices internal and external. Having an inner dialogue or just questioning when certain thoughts come up and working that muscle to tune out the things that aren’t in support of your wellbeing.

It’s a practice.

Yes. Practice. It's harder to do than you would think, but it's not something I would ever give up on

In regard to practice, would you consider your approach to creating or just life in general more disciplined and structured or more kind of ebb and flow?

I would say that I'm almost too disciplined. I definitely am guilty of being a workaholic and I think Matt in that way has been a good influence. For instance, I work all day Saturday and I'm going to paint and get things done all day, but then on Sunday we're going to go for a hike. I’ve learned to balance a little bit more. He's been a good influence in that way because it can be hard for me to know when it's time to step away or to give it a rest. I'm a very disciplined person, particularly because even in a more literal sense a lot of my work revolves around the light. Whether I'm painting and I need certain light or I might have the camera above me and I want to document. I also want this beautiful, natural light, that's very romantic looking with the item that I'm painting.

How do you know when it's time to rest?

I either feel physically burnt out or I feel lonely. Only I think it's something that comes with being an artist, it’s a very individual job. One of the things I like about the position that I've taken at Skin right now is that I'm not lonely. There’s less depression involved because I'm socializing. That’s sort of been a game changer for me in that way. I've learned that I need human interaction. Also, I'm a writer, photographer and painter. It's very lonely. And there can be days where you haven't spoken. I would say lonely more than anything else, because I don't get burnt out a whole lot. I don't care if I'm tired, I'll keep going. But I get lonesome for sure.

Sounds like it takes a lot of self-awareness because listening to you describe painting for example, you clearly get into a state of flow which can go on for hours. Then it’s like putting your head up for a second and getting out of that flow state and realizing, wait this feels a little lonely, I need a break but not necessarily a rest break sounds more like I need a moment of human connection.

You know, once I'm in the flow of things time flies and I'm not thinking about anything. But I'm also thinking about everything. It's a very clear and peaceful and elevated moment. Hours can just fly by if I'm painting. I think what happens is I get into a flow, hours fly by, and then I start to feel some signs of being tired or weak or whatever and then I'm like well, now I want to socialize.

Do you ever come up against creative blocks? and what do you do in those situations?

I'm almost too inspired, I think inspired almost to a point of exhaustion. I have so many ideas and sometimes that's what's holding you back because I've got my hands in so many different things. So I don't think I really have any blocks, but I do have depression and I do have sadness that can be spiraling in that way. It’s interesting, it doesn't seem to scare Matt, and I'm so grateful for that because it's not really something that I show on Instagram or in any of my social circles. It's not all the time, but when it does happen, it's very extreme.

I can be very very sad and disappointed in myself, with my own progress and that's certainly something that gets in the way. That's certainly a block of some kind. So how do I work through it? That's a good question. Nowadays I talk to Matt about it. I would say that my friends and my mom and my sisters have all taken more calls from me than I have taken from them. It truly has taken an army to get me to this point in life. I need an ear. I think other people are a little bit more able emotionally than I am. I can really wallow.

Also, I'm Italian, we invented the opera. I'm female and I'm an artist. I am the perfect storm in my life.

So I'm a very emotional creature. I'm super self-aware. I can warn people in advance, like "look the shit's going down today." So I would say that’s something that gets in the way for me.

I think just knowing what you need from others, asking for it and being so aware of your emotions and who you can go to in your life that’s going to be capable of holding space for you is so important. Your point about him not being scared of the emotions is special because a lot of times we’re brought up believing we have to curb our emotions, repress them or that only certain types of emotions are okay to express fully and that doesn’t allow us to be our whole selves. It doesn’t leave much room to just share and do life with anyone let alone a partner. I love hearing that you have this person and really multiple people but your partner is able to hold space for you to experience the full wave of emotions and being human.

He's not scared. It's funny he’s secretly like on the down low, the real life coach. He's really got it figured out. He's so good at living. He just knows how to take care of himself, when it's time to curl up and watch a movie where I might try to start a new project at 10:00 at night. He doesn't seem to have any fear of my emotions and I'm very grateful for that. They're not really anything I can control. They're not anything that I would ever hide either.

Absolutely. Relationships are such mirrors for each other. Showing us more of ourselves and where we still have room to grow. Switching gears a bit, what does self-care look like for you?

I know that self-care is like this overused trending term but it's always been a priority of mine. Taking care of my body internally and externally changes my mental health and my ability to function entirely. I'm a big believer in "win the morning, win the day" even if it's for 10-minutes. I try to work out every morning, if it's a 10-minute Pilates video, going for a run, yoga, anything like that. I work out for my mental health first and for my physical appearance second.

I super love skin care. I'm super regimented about my morning and evening routine. It means a lot to me. I don't sacrifice sleep for anyone or anything. I love sleep. I feel my best and I feel sexy and attractive when I'm well rested, that is like my main thing.Those are paramount in my wellness routine. Then I would say prayer and being grateful. Those are things that I do every day. On the rare occasion that I don't, I certainly have a higher chance of having a bad day.

I hate the idea of giving advice. I don't feel that I'm in a position to give advice on anything in life, but when I am giving advice, I guess I'm really giving advice to myself and if it works for someone great, is to have some kind of "win the morning, win the day" routine because it's kind of life changing, the way you go into the world that day.

Well, I think you are very qualified to give advice! This is something that really supports you, that you're committed to doing to take care of yourself each day. But I get it, coaching has engrained in me not giving advice.. helping people come to their own realizations. Though, I think it can be much easier through coaching than in my personal life for sure.

You're a great person to be coach. I'm just recalling when we met, I remember you wearing a skirt that day and thinking this girl is so put together, it's unbelievable. She must have all these secrets, like this is the shit that's behind that girl. I knew it. When you started this wellness stuff and coaching and the cycle stuff, all of this I was like this makes perfect sense. I wasn't shocked at all. I was like see, I knew she had some she had some crazy method behind this very put together human that enters the world. I knew there was some magic, some method behind it. I knew it.

That's so funny and great, wow. You know, thinking back to human design and the things I've learned. I had purchased this blueprint from Erin Claire Jones like an 80-page doc and one of the first things I read that made such an impact was that my purpose here is to be an expression of self-love and acceptance. It felt like such validation and permission to just be in love with life. Not like bypassing all the shitty parts of my past experiences or what's to come but to stop questioning or feeling guilty for being in love with this human experience. To still be accepting of the highs and lows and letting it just be a necessary part of living without going out of my way to make it harder... just choosing be in gratitude.

You know when you're thriving and you're making progress you know in your heart. But there are people who really frown upon any acknowledgment of the past, whether it's childhood or past relationships and I think it's such a bunch of bullshit. I know successful painters, they're living large off of just painting for themselves, their paintings are outstanding and they're in their eighties, still painting about their childhood trauma. That's still what they're painting about. My feeling is as long as you're not using it as an excuse to lay in bed, you can think about whatever you want, it doesn't mean that you haven't moved on. It's all what you do with it. As long as you are translating it into fuel and it becomes some part of what makes you prolific, then you should.

For sure, I think there's a lot of fear about going there to those experiences because there's pain, shame all of it. So, for someone who expresses themself through art or anything really, if you can translate that into something that feels good and cathartic, I feel like you kind of take your power back. You're not holding it all in, you're letting it be expressed through you in whatever way it needs to.

I'm just grateful for all of it because I don't know what I would do without it. I've got all this stuff that drives me, I've got all this fuel and I have a vision.

Katrina, I want to thank you for taking time to have this conversation and to share so openly. It's been beautiful to connect in this way and I can't wait to have more opportunities to collaborate and make magic together! If you want to connect with Katrina more, you can find her HERE.


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