Krysta Jabczesnki is a multidisciplinary artist born and raised in the Southwest, and currently living in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She’s worked in photography for over 10 years, and recently has been focusing on ceramics under the name Zizi. Zizi was born out of Krysta's love for interiors around the southwest and her work photographing Georgia O’Keeffe’s properties.
Krysta also rents out her previous home in Tucson, AZ. Comprised of two separate units she designed, you can find them on Airbnb as Adobe Libre and The Rootbeer Adobe.
On a recent road trip around the Southwest, we were fortunate both to spend a few nights at Adobe Libre and visit Krysta at her backyard ceramics studio in Santa Fe — where we also picked up our first batch of Zizi pour over drippers! What follows is an interview with Krysta, wherein we asked about her art, creativity, and interior design, some of Krysta's photography, and some photos of her studio.
We hope you enjoy!
We obviously want to talk about your creative projects! But first, we’d love to learn a little about your early years. Where are you from?
I was born in Albuquerque (‘86 baby!), a great time and place for poofy bangs and boxy trucks. We lived there until I was 8 and my family moved to Tucson. Both areas feel like home to me, even more so as an adult because I currently live in Santa Fe with my husband and daughter. From here we host our previous home in Tucson on Airbnb (an adobe duplex called The Rootbeer Adobe
and Adobe Libre
). We go between the two cities a lot, which gives us a bit of both worlds, the high desert and the low.
What drew you to photography and making a living as a creator? Did you always feel called to this, or was it a development / process?
It was a process, is a process and will probably (hopefully) always be a process. I got involved in black and white photography in high school. At the time, it felt like the one thing in my life I was good at and that I’d be happy doing for work. So I ran with it and got a degree from Brooks Institute of Photography. It turned out later that photography acted as a launch pad for other creative endeavors and not the sole thing I do. I’ve cast nets in a lot of different directions like ceramics, collage, some illustration projects and design. I’ve never felt like I have a clear path forward but, I think if I did I wouldn’t be as curious and engaged with what I’m currently working on and where it could lead.
At my core, I’m a person who gets super curious and excited about different kinds of creative projects to the point of anxiousness if I can’t start them right away. It’s the fear that the idea or the motivation will disappear if it's not immediately harnessed, which is true! If you’re artistic and you don’t act on it or you talk yourself out of it, you end up with nothing—which is scary!
Dolly Parton said, “Figure out who you are and do it on purpose.” So these days I try to accept that my anxiety is there for a reason, that’s who I am. I have to feed those creative intuitions. The tricky part is figuring out how they make money! But I also tend to think it’s really beneficial to need that as a motivation as well. I tend to believe and hope that if you offer the universe true authenticity, it will thank you.
You did such a beautiful job creating Adobe Libre, your guesthouse in Tucson. How did that come to life, and are you excited to do more interior design projects like this?
Thank you. It came to life because we used to live there! Or to be more specific, we lived on one side of it. The building is a historic adobe rowhouse that is split into two units. For a long time while we lived there we rented the other side on Airbnb. At one point, my husband and I felt stagnant in life and in our careers. We wanted to explore living in a couple different cities before our daughter was old enough to mind. So we listed both spaces on Airbnb. It was a pretty natural and successful transition. It turns out to be perfect for visitors because it's walking distance to downtown but it has an O.G. Tucson feel.
"So these days I try to accept that my anxiety is there for a reason, that’s who I am. I have to feed those creative intuitions."
I don’t currently have plans to do more interior design projects but my love for interiors is a strong undercurrent for creating Zizi. Mugs and drippers feel like the tip of the iceberg. I think a lot about what makes a home special and the small details that can imbue interior magic — custom tile, pendant lights, sinks, light switch plates. It’s pretty endless what you can make, so my focus is naturally resting in creating pieces for the home rather than interior design. I do hope to use Adobe Libre and The Rootbeer Adobe as a stage for ceramic work in the future. I love the idea of the whole house growing into a platform in that way.
Between photography, ceramics and design (are we missing any?), you already wear a few hats as a multi-disciplinary artist! What’s a typical week like for you these days?
You wouldn’t know it by the rest of these questions but I’m 100% a jock or like a zen jock, really. I process thoughts by moving, by stretching, by feeling in my body. Trail running is the closest thing to spirituality that I know to be real. I feel alive and like my brain is connected to the earth and my body rather than a floating bubble without an anchor. It seems counterintuitive to productivity, but I’ve learned that if I prioritize trail running 4-6 days a week than everything else feels more aligned as well. I never care how fast or how far I run, I only care that I’m somewhere beautiful without telephone wires obstructing the view. If I’m not running, I also love hiking with a friend, playing tennis, skiing — these are my social outlets that I cherish and make it O.K. for an extrovert like me to work alone the rest of the day.
These days I’m pretty laser focused on what Zizi will be and establishing it as a small business. So, the rest of the day and into the night I’ll be in our backyard shed where I have a pottery wheel, a kiln, space for hand building, an extra large notepad to draw and also a computer for freelance photography work.
My daughter Weston is nearly 7 and she also likes to draw, tinker, and play with clay. So, that space is not precious to me, it’s her zone too. I love it when we are both in there silently working on respective projects and listening to music. One of those moments when you think, “I didn’t know parenting could be like this!”
On the weekends my husband and I really crave a change of scene. We both are people who appreciate the clarity of open space more than the bustle of cities. We love to take our daughter camping, we love to find secret swimming spots, we love to visit friends who live outside of Santa Fe. We just kind of love movement and exploring. And we tend to each keep cameras on us for these outings, Joel is one of my favorite photographers.