WHEN TALENTED PROFESSIONALS TALK, WE LISTEN.
You have certainly seen Kirsten Kainz’s work. Her large animal-themed metal sculptures can be found crawling along Main Street in Bozeman or roaming in Big Sky Town Center. A versatile artist who works in mediums ranging from oils to bronze, Kirsten Kainz continues to Evolve creatively.
Drawing inspiration from the landscape and incorporating the client into the process, Kris Nunn approaches design holistically. She works from the outside in and from the inside out to create special spaces for the home.
From her studio in the Gallatin Valley, Kirsten Kainz creates contemporary fine art sculptures and paintings. While studying art at Southern Illinois University Carbondale and Curtain University in Western Australia, Kirsten worked in many disciplines including ceramics, glass blowing, bronze casting, and architectural ironwork, but the creative process of working with metal stole her heart. She completed a BFA specializing in metalsmithing but continues to work in other mediums as well. Kirsten’s award-winning paintings and joyful sculptures are featured in public and private collections
both locally and nationally.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
Starting from early childhood, art was never an optional thing for me. I always was making things and finding my comfort place, whether in the backyard, at the kitchen table, or in an art room at school. I also had a fabulous grandmother who always had fun projects to work on. It was just our way to create.
What is your style and what subjects are you known for?
When it comes to welding, I am mostly known for my humorous and powerful found-object animals. In my paintings, I am recognized for my subtle serene landscapes, which capture our grandiose skies. Recently, I have a growing audience of people who appreciate my vibrant horse series.
How did you get your professional start?
I always knew I would be making art or teaching art; I just was not certain of what kind of art and how it would all work out. After college, my sculpting started accidentally in Vermont. My boss at the gallery where I was working wanted a funky-junky railing made for her new design center. We drove to the local junkyard and the two of us picked out a load of iron. I took it all back to my workshop and welded together all the railings for the new building. I was completely hooked from that moment on. I could not stop shopping at the junkyards and creating sculptures. I am still going strong now.
When I decided to start a family, I figured the welding was going to become more difficult at times, so I taught myself how to paint in order to keep the creative channels open. I love being able to paint and sculpt; they are both very important to me now.
What’s your source of inspiration?
I have always had an absolute love and admiration for the animals of the world; they inspire me. I hope that my work elevates our appreciation for the natural world.
What exciting projects are you working on now?
I am working on some collage pieces that are “faux taxidermy.” These are realistic forms of animals, but they are made from everyday items. I am opening up to using all kinds of common materials. This includes creatures such as a fun leaping fox that is draped in gold chains and emerald-colored gems. My goal is to capture the animal’s amazing dynamic form, charming character, and power. I am building these pieces using materials that will remind us of what treasures they really are to our world.
What’s your process and how do you work with your clients?
I enjoy working directly with people, designers, and art councils to create works that fit the situation. I love working in meaningful ways, such as a touching landscape I recently did in which I was able to include a subtle image of the client’s dog that had just passed. It was beautiful.
I am currently working on a commission piece that is a family of peccaries. These darling pig-like creatures are native to the Southwest and I had actually never even seen one before. They travel daily past my client’s home and he adores them. It’s so fun to create this little family. I really enjoy working for people and getting a piece just right, whether it’s for a family home or a public setting.
What is the work you are most proud of?
I really love the larger-than-life rhino, “Stewart,” that I made for a client many years ago. Rhinos are my favorite animals and I have been drawing them my whole life. When I sculpted this one, it just flowed out of me.
What do you like about creating artwork for people’s homes or businesses?
I think it is incredible when people are bold, brave, and intelligent enough to acquire or commission unique works. It is powerful to honor one’s instincts and invest in art that speaks to what is inspirational to you. I believe our homes and business spaces should be chapels of sorts that reflect and reinforce our priorities.
Who are the artists you admire most?
I love the Impressionists. I love how they broke free of convention and were able to work with their feelings, making emotions the more important thing that they conveyed in their work.
If you were not an artist, what would you be doing?
When I was very young, I wanted to be a wildlife photographer. Marlin Perkins, the host of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, had the ideal job in my eyes. I also really like Steve Martin, so I think I wanted to become a funny person for a while. Maybe this is why I make so many funny animals.
What’s your favorite season?
Fall is my zone. The cool, crisp air of autumn is always a relief from the brutal heat of late summer. I love the gorgeous stoic changing of the deciduous trees. The best things are the apples, sweaters, unexpected warm days, and when the weather transitions into a beautiful snowy winter.
What is the best part about living in the Gallatin Valley?
I love living and working in southwest Montana. This place fills me with a visual beauty that just feeds me and I greedily take it in. Every day, my kids have to hear me saying, “Just look at those clouds!”
I think people here all have an immense love for the environment and my work has been so incredibly supported by this awesome community.
Kris Nunn Design
Kris Nunn, Interior Designer
Meet Kris Nunn, an interior designer who brings a wealth of experience to her Montana practice. From architectural plans to paint color selections, from outdoor space design to viewshed analysis, and from the drawing board to the room installation, Kris thinks holistically and works hand-in-hand with her clients to create their unique visions of their spaces.
How do you meet your clients?
My process is being open to life—often meeting clients serendipitously. Engaged from a casual off-subject conversation, chance meetings in the airport, or just being friendly, I just seem to run into clients! As a trust relationship has formed, they may soon become clients who embrace the shared opportunity to work together and expand their ideas and wants.
Share an example of a client who had a unique vision.
Recently, a client hired me for consultation on design ideas formed by travels around the world. She was sharing not only her travel pictures but also her feelings of place. Through a co-creative process, we expanded on her ideas. Together, we designed spaces that re-created the feelings of that travel destination.
Describe your process.
How do you work with clients, contractors, and architects? Having worked with many contractors, I have learned to ask the how and why about a design detail. It becomes a collaboration experience with few problems or pushbacks. It’s my job to communicate philosophy, intention, and desired outcome to contractors, architects, artisans, and craftspeople, and then let their interpretative response be the answer.
What is one thing in your background that sets you apart?
I’ve designed and built national brands for furniture suppliers and manufacturers.
How do you work with clients?
My work is truly a collaborative process. I encourage clients to participate in the design process and own their design decisions. Whether an interior design, outdoor space, room addition, new home floorplan, historic renovation, or overall project, many clients work alongside me throughout the process and they do enjoy it. Teaching foundational design principles and sharing design theory with my clients during the process increases their awareness. They make great design decisions that reflect their personal desires in a more refined, complex way. It’s fun!
How do you approach designing outdoor spaces?
Thoughtful outdoor design provides social gathering areas for groups as well as quiet shady places for individuals. It’s important to design areas for sunlight during the day. Areas should also take advantage of evening sunsets without too much heat and glare. Play spaces need to be “in view” but integrate with the landscape. Essentially, I figure out how built elements can be designed to enhance our experience with the natural elements.
Share a room design that you feel is truly special for a client.
One client has what I call a “Montana Cabana.” A lovely sitting room was added to the master bedroom. This private space features a fireplace, large sliding interior doors from the bedroom that open to face large glass doors, and a view to the hot tub. The room stays warm in winter and is open space during the summer. The outdoor seating features waterproof cushions and fabrics. The delightful morning light makes this room the best place in the house at that time of day.
How have you enjoyed working in Bozeman?
Returning to Bozeman has given me the opportunity to meet new people and rework older projects with existing clients. One of the best things that transpired is working with Todd Fullerton at Black Timber Furniture. With a background in high-end furniture design and manufacturing, I am thrilled to have these capabilities readily available here in Bozeman.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your profession?
Creating intimate spaces that reflect someone’s true self is the most rewarding type of design for me. Recently, I reinvigorated a 20-year-old residence and transformed it into a warm space. We worked beyond a basic floorplan and created a connection between the rooms. The kitchen and dining room flow toward a great window. We accented the spaces with purposeful custom furnishings and cabinetry and included a window seat for the family pets. Wood trim and other architectural elements smooth the transitions throughout the spaces. Adding a cabinet by the back door allowed a convenient spot to store jackets, boots, and outdoor gear.
What makes the difference between good design and great design?
You can give someone all the materials and design points they need to create a beautifully functional space, but, at the end of the day, it’s really about what the client perceives. This goes back to my philosophy of working with clients throughout the entire design process. I help
to cultivate their own sense of “great.”