Kaela Joy is making waves in the art world as a creative director, curator, designer, decorator and party consultant. She recently did an interview with Voyage Mia, which is a publication that features upcoming entrepreneurs that are making moves and adding to the culture of Miami.

In Kaela’s own words:

“I was born in Los Angeles, but spent most of my childhood in Atlanta before I moved to Virginia to study art, and finally moved to Miami where I now keep a studio. All this motion led me to see a lot of different people and lifestyles, and encouraged my hunger to travel. These days I bounce around from the US to the world like a true nomad. I love changing settings and
learning from different people and places. I am so inspired by the inner-workings of the world around me, immediately and extensively. Always have to be thankful for my parents instilling me with this hunger for exploration and the privilege to see the world beyond borders.

My methods of creation are just like how I eat and sleep; I do it because I need to. My whole life I have naturally been inclined to put things together and create or change how something looks. People have always called me distracted, but I love details. I feel the need to make customizations on some scale, from what I put on my body to what I keep in my house. I love when things “fit” well.

I upcycle and reuse a lot of materials in my creative processes. This is not only a smart common practice of most artists, but is becoming vital to our communities as our world is becoming flooded with excessive plastics and wasted materials, as our recycling programs have become insufficient. I want to teach others, especially youth, to place a new value on different materials and to make what we might consider “trash” important again.

Not to be mistaken, I still love shopping for materials. As I have projects in different cities, I enjoy discovering local options and supporting community economies. No better way to really breath with a city then to learn about locals by supporting them. I buy materials online of course when I need something specific that I absolutely can’t find, but a really enjoyable part of my process is going to stores, especially thrifts and markets, to hunt for goodies.

Change is the only constant in the world, and I think people live better when they open to change. I’ll be your distraction, forget about what is on your mind because I’ll put something more interesting in front of you. I want people to embrace self-reflective curiosity. I like to investigate creation, its pretty simple. I am influenced by chemistry, biology, and geometry.

It’s a scary world, but words, patterns, and structures can help people change their life. When you’re at a party in Miami and you see something extra, I might have put it there. I have been making public works and special event installations in town over the last four years. In Wynwood, I built the installation at Barter and The Dirty Rabbit with respective teams. I have designed many photo booths, DJ booths, and atmospheres for Secret Garden, the original art- walk after party. Across the bridge, some of my personal designs and curations are up at Do Not Sit on the Furniture, along with those of other artists. Detail oriented eyes on the streets may have seen my tags in any neighborhood. Thanks to my artist friends I have made, in the last year I have decorated at the Brooklyn Mirage in Brooklyn and at Rhonda Intl in LA. Occasionally I showcase furniture and costuming, in the past at Rapture Music festival and Artifact experience.

Since December 2018 I have taken my crafts world wide. After helping build the Rumors stage for Electric Festival in the Dominican Republic, went down to Tulum and decorated Abracadabra and Repopulate Mars for the January festival season. In the summer I will be based out of Ibiza again, follow my Instagram for location updates or if you just can’t make it to the isle this year. Stay tuned for Basel announcements after the summer!

Every artist has a unique story. Can you briefly walk us through yours?

“Since I have been aware, I have been fascinated by colors, sound and movement. So, inspired, my inability to keep still coupled with my urge to create awarded me a “distracted problematic student” label as a kindergartener with ADHD. Following instructions was difficult, and I constantly found myself drawing on any and every surface, and transforming any object I could figure out how to change. I would get in trouble, which only fueled my curiosity, so I channeled my energy into dance and music. The curriculum of dance classes became to restricting and rigid, but led to my discovery of sets and costumes, which blossomed into my passion for design. Growing up I didn’t have much money for supplies, so I quickly learned to become resourceful, for example by scrapping fabrics from a local design college dumpster. I became a collector, always finding value in overlooked materials. I didn’t take a traditional painting class until after I had already been practicing tagging (street art). Finding non-traditional ways to make and learn about art made me imagine what art could be outside of traditional archetypes.

I always knew there was a bigger world out there and I wanted more to bite. My hometown of Atlanta, GA, is very urban and influential but lacked greater experience, culture, and connection when I was growing up. Upon turning 18, I left for VCU Arts in Virginia, to pursue a degree in painting and printmaking. After graduating, I embraced my gypsy side and have since made myself homes in Ibiza, California, Las Vegas, and Hawaii, but my true heart lies in Miami. Travel influences my ideas the most, and my independent adventure strengthens my passion and drive. I want to go everywhere, yet, always have to come back to Miami; the unique ecosystem, charismatic people, and party culture have nurtured my career and influenced my personality.”

Please tell us about your art.
My art career consists mostly of design and fabrication projects, but I continue to paint and dance as hobby. I am a professional party decorator, transforming spaces for experiences. The events and venues I create to offer a special opportunity to escape reality by immersing in arts. Many people disdain party culture, and I’ve found this to be especially true of Americans. I’ve always had to resist the party girl label, but the party has given me everything from imaginative inspiration to the most valuable connections. Enjoying life is an art, as people face struggle they need a comfortable place to release. I have taught myself tranquility this way, and want to protect and nurture this blooming piece of culture. My job is reminding people of the strange and beautiful wonders in this world that can lead us to a dreamier existence. Why not enjoy art with music and dance.

This passion has turned me into an entrepreneur? The business is of outfitting spaces, from rooms to festivals that adjust the mood with shapes and style. I have furniture, art, costumes, and a beautiful, growing team. We compose magical moments for the people using touch, sound, and sight. Seeing people’s genuine reactions to installations is the most rewarding part. This brings me back to reflect on the benefits of a nice party on our existence. I want Federal and State to be more open-minded to protecting this culture like we protect art in museums. There is a lot of attack on parties and the people, especially in Miami, where they really feed the economy.

Until things change I’ll be your distraction, forget about what’s on your mind because I’ll put something more interesting in front of you. I want people to embrace self-reflective curiosity. I like to investigate creation, it’s pretty simple. I am influenced by chemistry, biology, and geometry. It’s a scary world, but words, patterns, and structures can help people change their life.

Choosing a creative or artistic path comes with many financial challenges. Any advice for those struggling to focus on their artwork due to financial concerns?
It is not easy, I have to use other jobs to support my art at times. Always losing sleep, I just get so hungry for what I want, I never stop. For what you put into it, it really does pay back off. Do the most, and you’ll be amazed. Be real, and help friends that help you. Don’t forget your value, but stay humble. Never be afraid to ask for your money!

How or where can people see your work? How can people support your work?
If you’re at a party in Miami and you see something that makes you feel nice, I might have put it there. Once a month I decorate Secret Garden, the original Wynwood art walk after party. This party has been my baby for three years now; this neighborhood brought me up in this city. Cross over to my current neighborhood, at Do Not Sit on the Furniture and Treehouse night clubs I have the pleasure of currently collaborating.

If you’re more detail oriented, you may have seen my tags on the streets just looking out the right window. My furniture and costuming get showcased at special events, in the past at Rapture festival and Artifact experience. This side of my work is developing into something bigger in the near future; stay tuned for Basel announcements. To support, buy tickets and art! I always post my upcoming events on Instagram.

Contact Info:

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

About The Author

Sara Nardea is no stranger to the art world, selling her own paintings and curating exhibitions -- from pop art to abstraction and now to art journalism, she is bringing her New York success to the up-and-coming Miami scene. Sara is now a contributing writer and editor at L'Etage Magazine.

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