Fabulous People: Patti Curtis

Patti Curtis is a Seattle artist and interior designer. “My art is primarily working with animal skulls. Before you get creeped out—I make these food industry byproducts beautiful again, honoring their sacrifice and the beauty of their bones.” Learn about Patti Curtis…

Follow at: @Patticurtisdesign

Hometown: I was born in Bakersfield, CA, but I consider Oxnard, CA, my hometown. 

First job: I worked at Skate King. I talked my parents into saying I was 16 when I was 15 to get the job (it was a different time). Getting a job there meant I could skate for free, and I loved skating. I soon got promoted to snack bar girl. I was so proud. I remember making cotton candy, and the fan would blow my Farrah haircut cut straight out, and the sugar would harden it. I walked around looking like The Flying Nun. (Google it if you’re under 45.)

Favorite ways to spend your free time in WA: I have a wonderful life living on the beach on Vashon Island with my partner of 12 years, Bill Reid. He is my favorite person to be with. We love hiking here on Vashon, kayaking, walking the beach, cooking for friends and family and traveling the world.

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Going to my dream school, Cornish College of the Arts. Getting accepted into their Fine Arts program was the happiest day of my life. This is second to having my beautiful daughter, Camille. I was a single mom, and she has become a beautiful woman, a lovely human being and a graduate of U.W. I couldn’t be prouder of her.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: In 2008, like many Americans, I lost my house in the crash. I also lost my job, my dog was killed and my boyfriend dumped me. I was like a country western song. I had never felt so low and so scared. But I had a daughter to support. I couldn’t just give up. I plowed ahead and worked hard to not let my daughter know how afraid I was.

Someone who inspires you and why: I have been inspired by Frida Kahlo since high school. She went through tremendous physical and emotional pain. Instead of giving up, she turned her pain into incredible and thought-provoking art. She was fearless in her emotional transparency.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Follow your heart and your soul and persevere. Not everyone will relate to your work, so find your tribe.

Favorite quote: “I have been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from a single thing that I wanted to do.” —Georgia O’Keeffe

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I was voted Little Miss Bakersfield in a beauty contest in 1969. I also won a bathing suit competition in a suit and matching hat my mom sewed for me.

What makes someone fabulous: Someone who is unapologetically themselves and is unafraid of what people think. 

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