Checking in with Kristin Adolfson


What are you working on right now?

Right now I am both finishing up a book edition that I had printed, an edition of 20, and starting on my next project about the atomic bomb. I haven’t decided yet whether it’ll be a book or a print.

Kristin Adolfson’s book projects include Restaurant De Athrow, a lovely leather-bound volume that shows, in menu format, the last meals of two decades worth of Texas Death Row inmates. Pictured is One Million Eyes, from 2008, a letterpress project that explores casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2002 and 2008.

What were you doing when we called?

I was designing a website.

Tell us about your day job.

Primarily I’m a web and graphic designer, so I do a lot of web design. I also do book design and I hand-bind books for clients. On occasion I do a little letterpress, but not that much for work—I try to keep that more of a personal art.

Locally, who would you like to collaborate with?

I haven’t actually done a lot of collaboration. I’ve done large-group collaboration with the Virginia Arts of the Book Center, but I’ve never just collaborated with one other person. I’d like to collaborate with Allison Sommers, though.

What music are you listening to lately?

Full disclosure: I’m in a band, but I’m trying not to listen to our music right now. I listen to a lot of classical music. I’ve also been listening to some mash-ups that a friend of mine, Roffle Meow, does. There’s one featuring Lady Gaga and The Beastie Boys, which is really enjoyable.

What is your first artistic memory from childhood?

There wasn’t a specific moment. Throughout my life, I’ve been creative: I was a dancer, I played piano, and my family had a lot of artistic people in it. So for me it was always a constant. Even the way my parents helped me with my education, using very creative, physical, hands-on things. So it’s always been with me, in a way.

Do you have any pets?

No, but I have a lot of plants, which can be just as time-consuming. Just as much as with a pet, when you leave home, you’ve got to get somebody to water your plants, man. They’re high maintenance.

If you’re cooking a meal for yourself, what do you make?

I often cook Italian, since the female side of my family is Italian. A lot of times it would be pasta, but I try to branch out and try different things.

What’s your blind date dealbreaker?

If they don’t laugh at all, that would be a dealbreaker. Or if they don’t make me laugh.

What is your favorite building?

I lived in New York for a long time, and I love the Chrysler Building.

If you could have dinner with any person, living or dead, who would it be?

I’d like to have a small dinner party with Siddhartha Gautama, Walt Whitman, Joseph Campbell, Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr.

What would you do if you knew that you couldn’t fail?

I would try to grow all of my own food, preserve it and try to live off the land all year long. 

Do you have a favorite hidden place?

I guess it would be my brain.

Do you have a favorite board game?

Right now my favorite board game is called Puerto Rico. It’s a strategy game. The general premise is that you’re in Puerto Rico and you’re trying to build plantations, grow things like corn and sugar and so on. There’s various ways you can win. It’s been around for a few years, I think it was originally German. It’s a really fun game, although it’s kind of inappropriately colonial.

Favorite artist outside your medium?

I think that might be [contemporary artist] James Turrell, but ask me tomorrow and you might get a different answer.