The WÆRK Questionnaire is a regular feature on this blog, in which cultural/technology innovators reveal what makes them tick.
This installment features Soap Library co-founder Kerry Santullo, who is an innovator of the first order. Her “holistic tape label” cultivates creative appetites for things we didn’t know we needed (but are now passionate about), and develops products that resonate profoundly with all five senses.
1. Describe what you do, in five words or less.
Creating connections through soap.
2. What is your favorite artistic genre (and why and how does it influence your daily work)?
I love figurative sculpture, particularly of eyes, ears, hands, and nails. The work of Genesis Belanger, Bruce M. Sherman, and Angela Alba are a revelation to me because of the way they blend mutated surrealism with the millennial anxiety of our current age. Similarly, Soap Library, the holistic cassette tape label that I founded with Rachel Barnhart, is very much concerned with the tactile pleasures of listening to music. Truthfully, it's all about sensory exploration — how can you extend the life of the music, and where are the access points?
3. What's the best (creative or business) advice you've received?
Allow for separation between a day job that pays your bills and the extracurricular work that brings you creative pleasure. It is easy to feel stifled or frustrated when you work in a creative industry, executing other people's visions, without an outlet to call your own. True creative freedom lies in taking risks, and oftentimes you must create your own environment in which to experiment freely.
4. What question do you wish we'd ask (please answer as well)?
Who is your favorite author, and what has been their impact on your life?
I often think back to David Foster Wallace's interview with Charlie Rose, and how prescient some of his remarks are given that the interview took place in 1997. I love how DFW explains his extensive use of footnotes as a way to represent our fractured reality. In a way, that is what social media has become — digital footnotes for a fragmented and fragile reality. I could spend endless amounts of time wondering what DFW would make of our current political, economic, and emotional climate. He would slay at Twitter.
More seriously, I wanted to be a writer for a very long time, except that I experienced such tremendous anxiety over writing that it impeded my ability to communicate freely on paper. I chose to study English Literature in college partially as a way to confront my own fears and anxieties — the more you do something, the easier it becomes. It's certainly not an uncommon anxiety, and David Foster Wallace has this tremendous ability to make you feel less alone. I am forever indebted to him.
5. What do you wish could be more influential, in the business world?
The importance of a mentor, or perhaps more simply, an elder figure who believes in you. I truly believe there is someone out there for everyone — be open.