From the start, Aji’s art reviewers were intrigued by the unique, compelling creations of Kaya Davis. How, they wondered, could she fashion anything so tiny? Thanks to staff from Ability Now and to Davis herself, their questions were answered.
It’s clear that Davis is deeply focused on her craft, and on reaching a wider audience that will appreciate her work. Her drive is an inspiration. She has followed her own imagination and intuition into a pursuit that can only grow as she devises her own miniature tools and aspires to learn animation one day. Are you wondering whether your own wild idea could ever become a reality? Ask Kaya Davis. She has an answer for you.
EOA: Please share some basic background information about yourself with our readers.
KD: My name is Kaya. I am 28 years old, have autism, and am an artist from California. I grew up in Berkeley with my parents, as an only child who was adopted at birth. My hobbies are drawing, knitting, and origami, and I do it on a very tiny scale. I am a cat lover and I collect my drawings of dolls, specifically Barbie and Blythe dolls.
EOA: How and when did you discover your artistic talent?
KD: I have always loved to draw. I’ve also always preferred smaller toys, such as Polly Pocket and Barbie, over bigger toys like American Girl dolls. There were often times that I found myself wanting clothes and accessories for my dolls that I couldn’t buy in the store. As many children do, I would use art to express myself, but as I got older, I discovered that I could make a career from my skill of drawing people and crocheting or knitting the doll clothes and accessories I had always wished I could buy. That was when I was about 14 years old and knitting and crocheting miniatures has been a passion of mine ever since. Throughout high school, I improved my knitting, crocheting, and doing origami skills, and when I turned 21 I found that I wanted to focus only on miniatures.
EOA: What first attracted you to miniature forms?
KD: I have always seen my dolls as real people, not as dolls at all. I’ve also always been interested in fairytales about fairies and other mythical creatures, as well as the spiritual world. I would sit and draw the fairies, their tiny houses, and the tiny worlds I was imagining in my head. Once I started drawing and painting on a small scale, I realized that was my preference because of the control it gave me over my fine motor skills. The more I drew, the more interest people showed in buying my work, so I figured, why not make money doing something that I love?
EOA: How did you find Ability Now, and how has the program supported your art and your business?
KD: I found the program through a referral from Regional Center of the East Bay, a non-profit agency under contract with California to coordinate supports and services for people with developmental disabilities like me. Because I have autism, I tend to have art ideas all over the place. Before attending Ability Now’s Small Business Development Center, I was struggling with how to turn my passion for tiny art into a business. I couldn’t have gotten to where I am today if it wasn’t for Ability Now’s Small Business Development Center. The staff at Ability Now have helped me focus on my goals and given me structure.
EOA: Who are your mentors?
KD: Andre Wilson, the Small Business Manager, and Alva Gardner, the Small Business Vocational Coordinator, and all the small business staff at Ability Now have been mentors and supported me along the way. However, my iconic role model as an artist is Walt Disney. I’m very fascinated by animation and making a drawing come to life with a series of images, and am interested in learning animation in the future.
EOA: Please describe your process as an artist, from idea to finished piece.
KD: This varies depending on what I’m making. I often take walks to get inspiration. Then I usually think about what I want to make and sometimes how. While I’m walking, I visualize how I want the finished piece to look. Then I will sit down and draw or paint. Because of the small scale of my work, I often also make some of my own art supplies including tiny watercolor pads, paint palettes, and knitting needles. When I sit down to draw or paint a miniature, I try to complete the whole thing in one sitting.
EOA: Of all of your accomplishments, of which are you most proud, and why?
KD: Learning how to work on a tiny scale. Mastering my skills, I would say, because without being able to do that, I wouldn’t have my business or passion.
EOA: What are your short-term and long-term goals?
KD: My short-term goal is to make more work in a shorter period of time. Long term, I would like to be well known for my art – to me, this would mean having lots of followers on my business Instagram and YouTube.
EOA: What advice do you have for novice artists and entrepreneurs hoping to attract interest in what they have to offer?
KD: Find your passion and what sets you apart from everyone else. It’s important to market yourself in a way that makes you stand out. I still struggle with this, I must say, so just remember that it’s a process and takes time. Don’t give up on your passions and dreams – if something isn’t working, get advice from family, a mentor, or someone you look up to. Follow your passion and remember to always do what you love.