Meet Carrie Beth Waghorn, one of Maris DeHart’s featured artists and Charleston local. Her signature aesthetic is hard to miss; with her bold marks of ink, femme figures, and fashion frocks splashed with penchant hues. We sat down to ask her some questions about being a full-time artist, her time in Charleston, and her hopes for the future.
Where did you grow up? Do you identify more with where you grew up than where you live now?
I grew up in Chicago, but I put myself through school and my life basically started here in Charleston. I put myself through school and so basically my life started here in Charleston. I definitely identify more with Charleston than Chicago.
You started out working as an AB Psychologist. Do you relate your current work to your background?
I was actually an AB Psychologist for about four years, and so much of psychology is applicable to art. I always knew art was a part of me but I had always done it on the side. So much of art is about the psychological, having that background and knowledge allows me to feel really multifaceted.
You paint mostly in monochromatic. Where do you get your inspiration from?
A lot of the reason I paint in monochromatic is a direct metaphor for why I paint what I paint. The reason I use black is to remind people that without pain there can be no beauty, I really like to speak to that contrast in my work. It’s interesting because when you combine all the colors of the spectrum you get black. It’s so rich and concentrated.
You live in Charleston, SC which is home to many local makers and artists. Who’s your current favorite local maker in the city?
One of my favorite makers in Charleston is Kristy Bishop. Her workshops are awesome because she uses naturally found materials and her woven pieces are so unique. It’s nice to see what other people are doing and to feel like I’m part of a greater community that supports one another.
Someone else that I love is Amanda Greeley. She is whimsical and feminine. Right now, she is doing this line of footwear for women that’s a little more masculine and androgynous which I think is super cool. It helps inspire my own work.
What are the next steps for you as an artist?
I think I want to travel around a little bit, because I’ve been here for so long. I’m starting to feel the itch to bop around to different cities. I think I’ll always be based out of Charleston, but my immediate plan is to push myself here through more mediums, then travel around. My ultimate goal is to apply for a creative visa in France, which if I got approved I would stay for three years. I figured I should do it now; I’m not married with kids.
You use ink in most of your work. What makes that medium so fresh for you over and over again?
The first time I ever used India Ink was in highschool and I remember being so stubborn, wanting to make it work for me. I’m obsessed with it because it’s immediate, and permanent yet has such fluidity in the feeling of it. It’s nice because when I make a mark it’s there and I have to work with it.
Do you see yourself long term in Charleston?
I think I’ll always be based out of Charleston, but my immediate plan is to push myself here through more mediums, then travel around.
What does your typical day look like as a full time artist?
Everyday is kind of different, sometimes when I get into my flow, I’ll just end up writing for three hours, which is great because a lot of times I get ideas for pieces through my writing and then I’ll go to create. But part of my stimulation is through human connection and that could be through a conversation with someone at Black Tap or listening to great music. There’s a lot of different activities you can do to get inspired.
What’s your advice to young female artists just starting out?
My number one piece of advice is to take time to figure what you’re all about. Sometimes I feel people produce art just to produce art, and in my own opinion I don’t think being an artist is a qualifying term. I think you need to know who you are, and where you are trying to go, and what you’re trying to convey to others through your artwork. When your art comes from a place that's genuine and meaningful it has more of a lasting effect than people who might just be painting just to paint.
If you had a first time visitor to Charleston, where would you have to take them?
I love sweet stuff so Sugar Bakeshop for sure and this really cool bakery called Ragamuffin Sugarshop over in North Charleston. For coffee, definitely Black Tap. As far as restaurants go Fig, The Ordinary, and I really like The Gnome Cafe and I’m not even vegan. My go-to cocktail spots are Belmont and The Rarebit.