Friendly reminder for all Alaska artists: Deadline to apply for a 2022 Individual Artist Award (IAA) is March 1. These are competitive awards, so give yourself time to craft a top-notch application. We recently caught up with 2019 awardee Kristin DeSmith, who shared some great advice for people in any field, including the arts.

Kristin DeSmith

Name: Kristin DeSmith
IAA discipline:
IAA career stage:
Project Award in 2019

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as an artist?
There’s something I repeat to myself nearly every time I come to a decision point while making a piece of art: TAKE THE RISK. I’ll never forget this advice from a teacher who challenged me to allow myself the room to fail in the service of finding my way to something extraordinary. My most successful pieces have come from taking risks that could have ruined what I was in the process of making. Even if I lose a piece as a result of a choice I’ve made, I’m always grateful for what I’ve learned from taking the risk.

Who is your favorite Alaska artist and what do you admire about that person?
It’s difficult for me to choose just one artist! For many years, though,  Amy Meissner’s work has really spoken to me — I often find myself in awe of what she’s created and emotions come forward when I’m viewing her work. I admire how she can bring together vintage linens, found objects, various textiles, and the written word to create a visual narrative that both honors history and examines present-day issues in an extraordinarily beautiful, evocative way.

What was the happiest moment of your life as an artist?
I’m most fulfilled as an artist when I see that my work has become meaningful  for someone else. I’m deeply touched when something I’ve made resonates with another person. If she/he can see her/his experience reflected in one of my pieces, I’m happy.

What impact did the Individual Artist Award have on your art?
The most meaningful impact receiving the IAA had was its power to validate my choice to be a ceramic artist — particularly an Alaska artist.  I’ve felt more confident in pushing my art in different directions, and now I have a more professional studio in which to create new work.

Alaska artists, you have a few weeks left to apply for a 2022 award! If you want it checked for completeness, submit by Feb. 14. Check out our toolkit, videos with tips and more at