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Check Out Kylie Popa’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kylie Popa.

Hi Kylie, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I think there are a lot of creatives that can relate to being discouraged from doing what they love, and I like to imagine that I’m where I am because I was told “no” a lot growing up. I was constantly writing little stories and doodling castles in between finishing my homework and practicing for my extracurriculars. Money was a big concern for my parents because we were living in Hawaii and Hawaii is ridiculously expensive (their minimum wage was still below $10 when I moved out of state – what the heck?). So, naturally, my parents often warned me to pick a good career. I had SOOO many great opportunities to do other cool stuff. But all I really wanted was to *make* cool stuff. Once I moved out on my own, I finally realized there was no reason I couldn’t just…do what I wanted to. I also realized that I didn’t have to pick just ONE thing – I could do EVERYTHING. Well, I guess “everything” is a bit of a stretch. But, with a vengeance, I certainly set out to try – I got into my first gallery show, wrote my first book (I’m still working on edits – they’re ROUGH), and got into a neat art school. Through trying all these different things, I’ve learned more about what I like and don’t like, both professionally and personally. I also got to learn a lot more about who I am and who I want to be – and that’s the goal for all of us, isn’t it?

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
Although things haven’t always happened the way I thought they would, I’ve been fortunate enough to keep my footing. Two years ago, I honestly thought being a gallery artist would be my end-all, be-all, and my boyfriend and I moved to a city in Oregon that was known for having a nice, close-knit gallery scene. But, as it turned out, I hated it! The people were amazing and the shows were really fun, but it was too hectic for me. There was too much pressure to make art that would sell – at least if I wanted to eat more than just beans and rice for the rest of my life. Not to mention how ill-fitted my personality was for the marketing side of things. I didn’t want to sell my art – I just wanted to be around other artists and paint. And, although I was able to do those things, the selling aspect killed the entire experience for me. However, even though the gallery thing didn’t work out, I didn’t feel discouraged at all. I was lucky to be in a very good place with myself in spite of it – I had a decent day job where I felt valued, I had a great support system, I lived right across the street from a Chipotle (haha). I had a lot of things to be grateful for, and even though my career is extremely important to me, I like to remind myself every now and then that it isn’t everything. It’s not the only source of my value as an individual, and it’s not the only source of my happiness.

Appreciate you sharing that. What else should we know about what you do?
Currently, I’m studying illustration at ArtCenter College of Design to work on my skills and get a job in animation. I really want to do environments, especially background painting. But at this point, I’ll take what I can get! I’m also trying to finish edits on my first book (titled “The Obsidian Fallacy”, in case anyone’s curious), so I can start contacting literary agents. Almost everything I do is fantasy-geared, so of course I’m writing a fantasy story! The cast is an interesting bunch of characters, many of which are persons of color. Growing up in Hawaii, everyone you met was something different – there’s a lot of cultural mixing and sharing. And, because that’s always been my favorite part about where I come from, I wanted to bring that into this story – on Sisters Isle, culture is communal. This particular project of mine has a lot of cute, romantic elements to it and (of course) a lot of humor. But it also touches on issues that are important to me, like how to respect people’s boundaries, how it feels when your boundaries have been crossed, and how to recover afterwards. The way I’ve written it leans heavily into the Young Adult demographic, but in the future, I’d really like to try my hand at the New Adult or Adult categories because I’m a fan of authors that grow with their audiences. But, ah, I’m getting ahead of myself!

We’re always looking for the lessons that can be learned in any situation, including tragic ones like the Covid-19 crisis. Are there any lessons you’ve learned that you can share?
Funnily enough, I was drawn to the entertainment industry because of how collaborative the work is, and I’ve always enjoyed working in the company of cool people. But after Covid hit and everyone went into quarantine, I realized that I don’t need other people RIGHT NEXT TO ME as much as I thought I did. I’ve actually been able to find inspiration in the isolation. Now, I almost *want* to work from home for the rest of my life! But I may be cheating a little since I’m stuck in quarantine with my boyfriend. If we weren’t bothering each other every day, I’d probably be much more afraid of the circumstances, not to mention sadder and angrier with the universe. Thank god that wasn’t the case!

Contact Info:

  • Email: kylieapopa@gmail.com
  • Instagram: kylieapopa

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