Cool Kid Club: Corrinne James



no. 1: Corrinne James

In Atwood's new monthly column Cool Kid Club, our Editor-in-Chief Liza talks to young creatives in an informal interview style over chat to understand their creative process and the person behind the work.

For this installment of Cool Kid Club, I decided to induct Corrinne as the club's first member. Corrinne and I chatted about children's books, the color yellow, and her favorite songs.

Liza: Where are you as we chat right now?

Corrinne: I’m actually in the dining hall of my school at this moment. I just ate so many cookies: chocolate chip.

L: Are you listening to anything?

C: Yes! “Alone Again Or” by Calexico

L: Okay, getting to your art: how do you describe your work to someone who hasn’t seen it before?

C: Before I show people I usually awkwardly warn them that it’s really colorful so they don’t look at it and think immediately that I’m this girl who’s obsessed with psychedelic drugs. I think I would say it’s a reflection of the parts of life that I really love. I love music and the ideas and values behind it, and that really has become such a big part of not only my creative process, but also my life. I think you can see that in my work.

L: Are you influenced by the “hippie” movement though?

C: My parents are total hippies, so growing up my house was always filled with crazy art and artifacts from the 70s. My mom actually accidentally gave me a signed copy of Andy Warhol’s book.

L: What?! That’s awesome.

C: Yeah, she does things with antiques and totally missed the signature. I was like, “no, you can’t have this back–you gave it to me”.

 C: I’m also obsessed with the music of the 60s/70s. The Velvet Underground and The Stones are probably my favorite out of the big name bands of that time. I promised myself that my first child, no matter what gender, is going to be named Nico.

L: Did you grow up listening to that kind of music?

C: My parents only ever let us listen to that sort of music when we were young. I remember in like third grade I tried to rebel just to rebel and attempted to convince my family that my favorite singer was Justin Timberlake or something. I didn’t even know one song by him; I just wanted to make them mad. It’s totally changed now; we are all so close with music. Over the summer my dad, my siblings, and I all saw The Pixies front row at the 9:30 club.

L: Your family sounds super creative.

C: Yeah, I’m actually really lucky to come from a really creative family. My mom is a goddess of perfect ideas and she always executes them so well. My dad builds robots and this guy from a gallery keeps pushing him to make more so he can exhibit them. My brother is the nicest kid and he’s into claymation right now; it’s so cool to watch. My sister is just ultra-creative. I think she’s channeling it through photography right now, but we all switch everything up. I think we share the same feeling where we just really want to create things.


L: You have a very distinct style that you seem to stick with. Did you cultivate that or is it just the way you’ve always done art?

C: It’s actually this weird part of me that I don’t totally understand yet. Ever since I was a kid it wasn’t like “oh hey, I love the rainbow; let me put every color into this drawing”, but this like OCD voice that was like “you have to include all of the colors”.

L: It’s being fair to all the colors.

C: Yes, exactly. I’ve always been making things and it wasn’t until two summers ago that I was like wait, why don’t I just make something for myself and fill it with every single color. From there, I just couldn’t stop, which I think is where my “style” began.

L: What is your favorite color? I bet people ask you that a lot.

C: It’s strange, actually. People don’t really ask that! It’s yellow! When my sister and I were young we were super competitive, and she said her favorite color was yellow too and I was like “no, Lindsay yours is purple!”

L: How often do you work on your art? I feel like one thing about not going to art school as an artist is that it’s so hard to devote time to your work because there are so many other priorities.

C: It’s definitely really hard to balance both school and work, but I actually put the art stuff first.

L: Do you have any plans to branch out from your style? Any cool projects planned or that you want to plan?

C: Yes, actually! I’m really into animated music videos and I want to learn those programs so I can transfer everything I’m doing on paper into this moving form. I love drawing, but something is missing for me–I think that it’s the audio element. I have a lot of film ideas; it’s funny because my film style is very different from my drawing style. It’s much more calm, if anything. I also am really excited for this summer because I am planning on taking an abroad trip to Lyon, France. I’m going to bring a ton of watercolors to paint the architecture around France. I’m super inspired by European buildings. I want to push myself to illustrate a mini children’s book while I’m there that is filled with crazy architecture and cute little characters; I think it’s going to be very light purple.

L: You have so many ideas! I feel like that’s what it takes to be successful though: have many ideas and the drive to execute them. The thought about your drawings missing the “audio element” shows how music is an underlying part of your work, I think.

C: Yeah, music is everything to me. I got this philosophy book called “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle that tries to teach you how to separate yourself from your mind. It’s basically a push to reach this meditative state. I realized that I love music so much because when I’m listening to a song I’m really into my thoughts totally shut down and I am 100% in that song. It’s so euphoric; there’s nothing so special.

L: I can totally relate to this.

C: Right?  It’s such a personal thing. The song PPP by Beach House is one of them for me.

L: It’s interesting because I was actually thinking about this when reviewing the Beach House show I went to recently.  I love live shows for that reason: everyone is there to devote their entire time and energy towards just being in that moment. So, it’s something personal, but in that short span of time it’s a feeling that becomes communal.

C: I agree; I’m from right outside of D.C., so I spent so much of high school going to some really cool live shows.

L: What’s the best live show you’ve ever seen?

C: I’ve always been obsessed with Dave Grohl; not even his music, but him as a person. He ended up hosting this surprise show funk show at the 9:30 club, so my sister and I were front row. It was so great just to be in his presence. At 10:30, when the show was supposed to end, all of the Foo Fighters got on stage and they were like “surprise we’re staying up all night and playing this crazy small show to you guys”. I’m not even a huge fan of the Foo Fighters or anything, but it was insane. I was like “this is the best night of my life” and then I got Dave’s guitar pick after and made it into a necklace. It just made me feel so happy.

L: That’s the best story.

C: It was amazing. Also some of the best shows I’ve been to have been local house bands that make this crazy awesome space become such a beautiful moment.

L: If your art could a song, what would it be?

C: “Pictures of Matchstick Men” by Status Quo

L: Is that your favorite song?

C: It’s definitely up there. My favorite songs come in waves, but my  all-time favorites are probably “The Wind” by Cat Stevens, “Tangerine” by Led Zeppelin, and “I’m So Depressed” by Abner Jay.

L: With music being such a central part of your life, it seems to make sense that your work is informed by it.

C: I think a lot of music that I really love asks questions; it’s like don’t just live your life, but ask yourself why you’re living it, you know? I’ve always been very opinionated about the way we kind of do things in our society, so whenever something feels wrong to me I feel like it’s much clearer when I express myself through art.

L: I’ve been really into the idea of object hood and personal artifacts recently. Do you collect anything?

C: Yes, I actually collect pretty colored children’s books.

L: Would you be down to illustrating children’s books as a job?

C: I really would love illustrating children books. I think I would want to write them too because the story and idea behind them is so important to me.

L: Do you have a favorite?

C“In the English Roses” by Madonna

L: Since we’re on the topic of children, is there a moment from your childhood that has stuck with you?

C: My sister had a blanket when she was a kid that was everything to her. While on vacation to Disney World, we lost it. I remember I felt so bad for her that I cried with her all night. We took a bath, cried together, drew in our coloring books while crying together, and then fell asleep while crying together. I remember forcing my dad to promise me that he would put up “missing blanket” signs. I always think about that.

L: Do you have a dream job?

C: My dream job would be any place where I have creative control and don’t feel stuck–maybe art direction or something music related.

L: What’s something you would tell your future self as your present self now?

C: I would tell myself not to get caught up in trying to succeed because I think that’s a problem that I have. In the book “The Power of Now” that I mentioned earlier, it talks about how you can push yourself for this great life. Yes, there will be moments when you succeed, and those will be rewarding, but they’re only temporary because soon you will need to push again. I need to find personal happiness over “successful” happiness.


To view more of Corrinne’s work, check out her website.

Written By
More from Liza

Julia on the F Train by Elizabeth Foster

Elizabeth Foster is not only a photographer, but also a poet, and...
Read More