We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Montes & Cody Reed and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie & Cody, how do you think about risk?
Katie: There are 2 people for this interview. I could not have done this without a little back up. Cody Reed has worked with me for about 6 years. He originally left the studio we were both at to come work for me. During the pandemic, our loan process was haulted. He saw my struggle while we were out of work, and stepped up immediately to help finance this project. I would not have come this far without him and therefore want to include him in this interview for taking just as much risk believing in my dream as I did in trusting him for financial backing.
The two of us both took risks right from the beginning in our tattoo careers. When we went against our family’s wishes to pursue a career in art, neither one of us truly expected it would pay off as big as it did. All we knew was we wanted to tattoo and create art every day.
Cody: I quit my position I had at the railroad to become a tattoo artist. As a result, I was kicked out of my father’s house with only $700 to my name. My father didnt’t feel at the time I was making the right decision after two other failed attempts to tattoo professionally, but I never really felt like a choice was being made- art was just something I had to do.
Katie: I knew I was taking a major risk when I decided to leave the shop I had worked at for 9 years. Not only was I taking a risk signing a lease on our own space but I was risking a bridge being burnt. Although, we both had good reasons to go off and start our own business, we left the shop we were at with no employees. In turn, hurting a dear friendship with one of the owners, and I knew the idea of Continuum was a risk in itself. Its never been done before. No one has ever attempted tattoos, art gallery, seminars, and events all in one place. As if the idea wasn’t enough of a risk, I decided to take on the project of renovating 8100 sqft of a 90 yr old warehouse to do it in. We signed the lease January 1st of 2020 during our slow season. We were shut down March 2020, our loan process haulted due to shutdowns as well. Cody kept me calm and reminded me that the more energy you put towards making something work, the better the outcome.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Cody: I don’t really know what sets me apart from other artists; everything I do feels generic. I feel like that may be true for everyone looking at their own work; I’m not sure. I don’t feel special or particularly talented. In Van Gogh’s letters to his brother, he told him that the only reason he felt he might be any good at drawing was simply that he spent too much time drawing to stay bad at it. That he worked on his canvases with the mind of a laborer working the fields. To me, that answered all the questions I ever had about whether or not I could do this, and it eliminated the idea that I had to be some artist full of hidden messages and grand ideas. I am a laborer, and visual art is my field. About the question “was it easy? ” anything easy was once difficult. So to answer that question, no, it wasn’t easy, but it does get easier, much like walking. When you condition yourself to any situation, your mind and body will adapt. It will become easy, so knowing that I think it’s vital to schedule your day around your goals, get out of your own way and follow that schedule. Success will follow. If I want to send any message to someone striving for their goals, it would be to get out your own head. If I’m honest, I have rarely talked myself into doing anything. We spend most of our time talking ourselves out of things. Just decide what you want, make a plan to get there, quiet your mind, and get to work. Also, I’d like to add a note about creativity, I think every creator struggles from time to time with what to create, and if a few sentences from my high school art teacher can stay with me for a decade, I believe it is worth including in an answer about my journey. “Combine normal with abnormal” An example would be a room with a chair in the middle, pretty normal. Set the chair on fire, or turn it upside down, put it on the ceiling, or break it into fragments and float them around the room. Now you have created interest, which will subvert expectations, and from what I understand, art.
Katie: The biggest hurdle I’ve overcome as an artist is learning that art is not just about painting a pretty picture. It is all about conceptualization, intent, and taking creative charge over unpredictable moments. This business has been the focus of my creative and artistic energy. Although I am most excited to return to the studio once we open to continue on my own personal journey with art, it is my current work of art. I had to step away from studio art when I finished college because I was a single mom living in a small apartment, and I lacked the proper equipment and space I needed to make it happen.
My mission at Continuum Gallery is to explore the notion of what we humans consider the truth. Art is most interesting when the artist asks the spectator to turn a simple idea into their art- as if the work is looking at them and they are the one who is being listened to. There is something very fundamental underneath this idea of empowering the spectator. Many galleries and museums make up huge explanations to make sure the viewer understands the art; this sometimes leads to the viewer feeling, well, stupid. Why does the artist or Gallery over-explain everything? When the viewer is treated as smart enough to coproduce the narrative, it gives the viewer the sense of saying I am good enough. I will use this notion to curate each show and ask the viewer to deliberate the relationships between each painting and closer relationships between the artists showing their work. We can see the similar subjects through different eyes by showing artists that compare in some ways and not in others- similar to catching a rainbow in a mist.
a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Cody: There’s a crazy amount of stuff to do around Asheville and Hendersonville, especially if you are a hiker. I live close to Dupont state forest, which has several waterfalls and swimming areas. Then right down the road is Pisgah National Forest, which has many multi-day trails like the Art Loeb Trail, 30 miles long. If you are looking for a drive, the blue ridge parkway has calendar-worthy views almost every day. As far as food goes, there are really too many to fit and keep this answer reasonably short. Still, I’d like to shout out the Baker’s Box and Hendo, both locally-owned restaurants in the downtown Hendersonville area that are truly unique in their own way and obviously, have fantastic food.
Katie: I want to add some cool spots to Cody’s List. Oklawaha brewing Co. is next door to us and always a chill place to have an awesome handcrafted beer. The best restaurant in town, in my opinion, is SHINE. We also love the local thrift and antique stores in Hendersonville.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Cody: Definitely my fiancé Tiffani, without I would have never committed to tattooing or have been able to pursue it as passionately as I did. Continuum would never have been possible without Katie’s vision to go above and beyond. In that regard, I am just a workhorse while she is the driver. In my own personal journey, there’s my Aunt Jody, who gave us a place to stay when we were down on our luck. As well as Tiffani’s parents, Walter and Judi, for always having their door open. My Dad for gifting me my first actual tattoo machine and for always pushing me to be a better version of myself. To my Mom, who always believed in me and instilled a sense of creativity and love into my life that I carry every day. Also, to my best friend Brandon for supporting me since before I can remember.
Katie: My husband, Ricardo Montes. He has supported me in this every step of the way, no matter how intense the stress level. He finished nursing school during the pandemic, and my project completely took over our lives after that. He decided to jump in and help with whatever he could do or learn to do himself when the cost of construction supplies increased, and we could no longer afford laborers. He took on projects one at a time. If he did not already know how to do something, he watched youtube and taught himself. This project would not have been possible without him. I was also brought up by several strong women, who had incredible drive and work ethic- big shoes for me to fill. I saw from an early age that hard work could make things happen, not always exactly how you want them to, but happen nonetheless. We push and then pray.
Arched window interior shot- Taylor Burt, Soar Social