Tina Kerekes wearing a bright orange and yellow dashiki with a geometric print. Standing in a photography art gallery. Smiling with glasses on top of head.

Tina Kerekes: How to Rock an Artistic Path

Rockstar energy – you know it when you see it. And Tina Kerekes just HAS IT. A walking magnet for music and art, and well-known for her rockstar sense of style, Tina is dedicated to following her own artistic path and mentoring other creatives along the way. She’s an artist, designer, one-time owner of a skate shop, and she even styled the music video for Khia’s iconic anthem “My Neck, My Back.” For the past several years, Tina has been the manager and curator of the Transparent Clinch Gallery in Asbury Park, NJ, where she’s cultivated a nurturing space for the community with a vibe best described as part gallery, part music venue, and part local living room. ️Transparent Clinch Gallery features photography, books, and more by Danny Clinch – one of the music world’s premier photographers and music video directors who has captured a wide range of artists, from Björk to Bruce Springsteen.

No doubt you’ll be inspired by Tina’s own rockstar energy, and how she continues to rock an artistic path. Tune in to get the inside story!

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In this episode, you’ll hear:

[2:25] Tina’s chance encounter with rock’n’roll photography legend Danny Clinch

[5:45] The importance of community to Tina’s artistic practice

[7:40] Tina on her rockstar style 

[8:39] What does it mean to have “rockstar energy”?

[11:10] Tina’s work as a stylist 

[13:41] Proving people wrong who want to obstruct the artistic path

[15:41] How Karen and Tina first met…in 1997

[17:00] Being ahead of the curve on body positivity

[18:50] The importance of mentoring up-and-coming artists

[21:40] Tina’s One Tip to Rock It

Links from this episode:

She Rocked It is a media and mentorship platform where creative, courageous women rock it together. We are eager to learn from, listen to, and lift one another up — driven by the belief that women’s voices are essential. On our podcast and Instagram Live interview series, She Rocked It host/founder and creative entrepreneur Karen Gross gets trailblazing women leaders, creatives, and entrepreneurs to reveal how they rock it – and their insights may surprise you. Their behind-the-scenes stories, best-kept secrets to success, and actionable tips are sure to inspire the rockstar in all of us! 

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Tina Kerekes Transcript

TINA KEREKES:

You have this dream you have to know it’s gonna be a lot of work to get there and God I’ll scrub some toilets to get there. I don’t care

INTRO:

Hey Rockstar, welcome to the She Rocked It Podcast. I’m your host, Karen Gross, and I am so excited that you’re tuning into this conversation with Tina Kerekes. This woman has rockstar energy, you just know it when you see it. And if you’re watching this on YouTube, you will notice that Tina is rocking a zebra print suit. So cool. So badass. If you’re on the podcast, just kind of put that in your mind that Tina is rocking this amazing suit and she’s known for her amazing outfits. And she’s had an incredible artistic journey. She has styled music videos, including Kaia’s, My Neck, My Back. You know that song, okay. She’s also been the owner of her own shop, a skate shop down the shore. She’s done so many cool things leading up to her current role as the manager and curator of the Transparent Clinch Gallery in Asbury Park, New Jersey. This is where you can find rock and roll photography by Danny Clinch, who has photographed everyone from Bjork to Bruce Springsteen. And Tina has made this gallery not only a place where you can find his work, but an incredible hang space for the community where you can catch live music and other inspiring events. So you’re gonna love this conversation with Tina, because she has been true to her own artistic path and we all can learn how to rock it from her. Oh, and by the way, this might sound a little different than a regular podcast, because we recorded this conversation as part of our Instagram Live Woman Crush Wednesday interview series. But I didn’t want you to miss this amazing conversation. Here we go. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: 

Tina, let’s start. Why don’t you tell us in your words, a little bit about what you do?

TINA KEREKES:

Well, this is we’re actually at the Transparent Clinch Gallery And I am the curator and also the person that gets to tell Danny’s stories about the photographs. And I

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: 

And that would be Danny Clinch, the Rock and Roll photographer. 

TINA KEREKES:

Yeah. We we’ve been here a little over five years. And I met him on the boardwalk.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: 

Wow. And the rest is history?

TINA KEREKES:

Well, you know, the story goes, and I don’t I don’t really have the full story because I don’t remember much about it. But I saw him on the boardwalk. And he was headed to the Pony because he was doing his book signings for Still Moving there. And I said, “Hey,” because he looked cool- he looked a little bit like Tom Waits. So asks me to come to the signing and I’m like, “sure, sure I’ll go” but I don’t go. Because I’m not really sure who the guy is. But then I started looking through a bookstore and I saw the book Still Moving. I started flipping through the book. And I’m like, “Holy shit, he took that picture?!” And I knew all the photographs, I just didn’t know the person behind it. And then later, I had a gallery, a store on the boardwalk. And we had all the mural artists on the walls, and I was selling furniture and we’re all one big room and in that room, you could hang out and get coffee and sit down and on the couch or by the couch or buy the painting behind you. And him, him and his wife Maria loved that idea. And so I had the opportunity to curate a space next to my space for a weekend exhibit that he had— his photographs and my furniture in the space next to mine. And I and I helped him set it up and I put my furniture in it and he thanked me, he paid me, and him and Maria said “pick a print out”. And I picked Tupac just to kind of remind myself that I should have known who the guy was.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

That’s an iconic picture.

TINA KEREKES:

Yeah, so I’m moving out of our space. It’s going under renovations, and I’m looking for retail space. I’m gonna take our location and move it elsewhere in Asbury Park, and I couldn’t find anything. And then I got a text message maybe from Maria or Danny and it was kind of like, “hey, we have your print ready.” And I thought “cool, I get my print.” And they’re like, “meet us at the hotel”. And the lobby is really cool and Danny and Maria say “we’re here with IStar the big development company and they wanted, they said they’re gonna do an exhibit here of my art for a couple couple of weeks. Or I think it was a couple of months. And I go, “that’s great.” And they’re like, “We can’t do it out you.” I’m like, “well, that’s even better.” And I said, “Well, who’s gonna run it?” and I put my hand up and they said “that’s even better.” So that’s how it happened. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Okay, that’s amazing 

TINA KEREKES:

Over five years ago, and it was supposed to be a five month pop-up and we’ve been here five years.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

 Five years of Transparent Clinch Gallery. The gallery that houses Danny Clinch’s iconic rock and roll music, artwork, prints, books, all these things in Asbury Park, New Jersey. It’s an amazing space and it’s not only a gallery, but you have in the past five years, created really like a community hub there. Because I remember I walked in one night and I saw this great show there was a band called Dentist. I remember—hi Dentist!— female-fronted crushing. Loved it. So like, tell us a little bit about…because I feel like, I feel like that story that you just told exemplifies your journey, because it was sort of this happy accident where someone was magnetized to you and your energy and was just like, “yeah, I want you to run my gallery.” Like, that just seems indicative of your kind of path. So first of all, I just wanted to see if that’s true. And also like how you’ve created more than just a gallery, because you just do magnetize people into your world. It’s so cool.

TINA KEREKES:

I think it was so important. When we first opened up the gallery to the way it was set up is that when you walked in, everybody felt welcome. It was really important for all of us. So, you know, because we have people that come from all over the world. And we wanted the community to be you know, this corner was kind of a quiet corner, the hotel just opened and the boardwalk and as various going on our big Renaissance— Asbury Park like was kind of struggling for a number of years. And now it’s just blossomed, right? And for me, like the— I’m all about community. I didn’t come from like a single cent, my mother’s single single mother and we, you know, kind of moved around a lot. So I didn’t really have a community base. I didn’t I didn’t really want, you know, I didn’t feel like I fit in anywhere. And when I was younger, much younger, and to create something in Asbury Park with other like people who are musicians, artists, writers, you know, the misfits, everybody, I just wanted everyone to feel like they could walk in here from all parts of the world and feel like this was their home. And that’s why it’s set up like your living room.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

It’s a great space, there’s couches, there’s I know you also have a passion for kind of like, modern modern style furniture. As I recall, there’s just great like hang spaces.

TINA KEREKES:

Yeah, I I’ve wanted to create different like vignettes in the gallery that people could kind of do their own thing. And if that was the case, or when we have music here, have everyone feel like they could, you know, hang out and see whatever incredible shows that were happening in the gallery. But my my boyfriend Lamar is the one who buys all the furniture. He’s he’s got an eye for that mid century modern furniture, and I’m just the person who can sell it. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Well, first of all, your style when you walk into the gallery—I remember the last time I was in there, I mean, you just you just are stunning, like literally talking about “woman crush,” I mean your energy, your style, like…first of all, no one has yet been on an IG live where we’ve been able to see the whole outfit and I’m so glad that we can. Tell us about this outfit because your vibe your style is so electric. I love it. Tell us about what’s happening here. 

TINA KEREKES:

I, you know, it’s so funny. I wake up every morning and I’m like, “What am I going to wear today? What superhero am I going to be today?” 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

I love it. 

TINA KEREKES:

That was how I felt like, if I’m nervous, I’m going to dress the opposite. So I’m going to dress like I’m so confident. I got this.

INTERSTITIAL:

Hey Rockstar, if you’re inspired by this conversation, and you’re ready to rock your most creative, courageous life, we have a program for you. Head over to our website, sherockedit.com To learn about our Rock-It Launcher group mentorship program, which is designed to help you transform your creativity into a career that rocks. Head over there and apply today. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

I love it. You know, I was going to ask you about that rockstar energy because you know, I think you’re a rockstar. Even if you’re not like the lead singer of a band, you’re the lead singer of a gallery and many other cool things. But you definitely have, Tina, rockstar energy and you circulate among rockstars. I mean, right Bruce Springsteen was just in the gallery. I mean, I know you are in the world of rock and roll. What how does how does rockstar energy happen? How does one cultivate that kind of confidence and energy?

TINA KEREKES:

I mean, I don’t I don’t know. I— the people I’m lucky enough to be in this gallery with when anybody who walks in the gallery whoever that person is, including Bruce, they already have a relationship with Danny so that kind of puts me under the umbrella that “Hey, she’s okay too.” So I don’t really feel, I don’t know if I’ve ever been starstruck in the gallery… maybe if Patty Smith walked in, I might. I would definitely yeah. I mean she is everything, som yeah, I think it would be I wouldn’t be like that. No words would come out of my mouth if I met her. I’m so glad that I have not yet. But Lenny Kravitz was pretty awesome, Bruce is just like, when he comes in the gallery, you know, he has such a great relationship with Danny. I kind of stepped back I I would like to be the person that’s wiping the table next to them while they’re talking. Because there’s this moment where they’re kind of going through memory lane. And you know, they both done so much in their lives, when the two of them start talking they’re both kind of triggering their memory of things that have happened that were incredible that they’ve done together. So I usually am I’m very quiet when someone walks in. And unless they said, they like my outfit, and then I’ll talk to him, but well, I think they’re all— everybody that I’ve met have been like, a family member, like, they’re like, they’re part of the family. I don’t, I’ve never, you know, I don’t know how that rockstar. I’m not sure what rockstars are. I don’t even know if I have that.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Well, what I love what you said, though, a moment ago, where you said, you know, because I think everyone gets a little nervous, I would think we couldn’t be like fully human if we didn’t. And you said, you know, when you put on I want to call this super super woman outfit, like got zebra goddess power or something super. Like when you put this on, or like, you know, I put my lipstick on or whatever, like there is something to have, you know, not armor, but some kind of style. And I was wondering if you could, based on your your past experience, because I know you’ve done styling, and recall from music videos and things like that. So tell us about like how your past experience informs your style and maybe even inspire some of your rockstar energy.

TINA KEREKES:

I, you know, ever since I was a child, I always wanted to look a little different because I was told I was different. And I was like, “oh, then I’m just kind of embracing that.” So I learned how to make clothes in high school because I just couldn’t find those crazy outfits that I would see in a magazine and I and I would take scraps of fabric and teach myself sewing and I I think like by doing that I just had this like ability to kind of sculpt these outfits onto bodies. And I was doing a lot of videos and I did some really fun ones. I did Kaia in My Neck, My Back

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Oh, I know. Talk about she rocked it. 

TINA KEREKES:

That was a pretty incredible to work with the stylist. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

How did that happen? How did you connect with her?

TINA KEREKES:

Well, my my good friend Marcy was friends with a stylist, Lisa Cooper, and she was working with Kaia. And she goes, “Can you, they’re looking to do some chainmail.” So I just went to Home Depot and bought metal and, and put it on fabric and created these crazy outfits. But it was kind of fun to work with because the record company wanted her to wear a lot more clothes that she wanted to wear— she really wanted to be like, almost naked, which is the way I would like her to be. But I had to kind of work between her and the record record company, which was amazing.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT: 

So you found a happy medium with the chainmail. Oh, that’s amazing.

TINA KEREKES:

It was pretty, that was a pretty fun video too. And in other,  a lot of other musical videos, Lisa Cooper, another girl April I worked with and did some things and I would just ship the pieces out. And if they liked it and they wanted it, I would let them have it. I gave so much of my clothes away because I just thought it’d be better to have it on somebody else then have sit on my closet or have anywhere.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Amazing. So I want to I want to kind of go back a little bit through your your history because you’ve done so many cool things throughout your career. I know you’ve at one point owned like a clothing shop down the shore. Also, I believe you’ve done tour management, you’ve done the styling, as you mentioned, how and then I love the story about meeting Danny Clinch on the boardwalk. And then this just happened. Like, have you just sort of followed your heart to each chapter of this journey? Like how does that happen? That you kind of had this amazing evolution of creative chapters.

TINA KEREKES:

I always knew that I wanted to be an artist. Even younger, I remember that was when when your guidance counselor, she would be there like, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” “I’m gonna be an artist, I’m gonna be a designer,” and they’re like, “Well, maybe you should take some typing courses.” 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Right.

TINA KEREKES:

And, um— but I did I did just because just in case because I always thought you know, my, you know, I came from a very poor background and I just wanted to make sure that whatever my dream was, I was going to do it. And I think that’s an important lesson for people to know, like, if you have this dream, you have to know it’s gonna be a lot of work to get there. And God, I’ll scrub some toilets to get there. I don’t care, you know, so, but so there’s a journey. And I think the journey is as important as me getting there. And I’ve always believed it’s the people that I meet and the energy that I bring and maybe like, even if you don’t feel confident that that just walking in there being, feeling confident, just like standing up straight and just like just being me, I guess I don’t know, I don’t know no other other way except, you know, not believing there was a black cloud over my head. When someone told me that when I was younger and I was like I’ll never forget that I was like, “there’s no black cloud over my head.”

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

You know, it takes courage to believe in yourself in that way to say kind of, “screw you. I’m not going to take the typing. I’m not going to follow like the boring nine to five path.” Like, what do you think gave you that sort of inner confidence or inner courage to just follow your muse?

TINA KEREKES:

You know, I don’t know. I just, I think I wanted to, like prove em wrong. Yeah, just really prove them wrong. Yeah,

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

I hear that. So can I throw a surprise at you on the live? Okay, so I have to tell you something. Tina, I— since we decided to do this, I was like, “I know her. I know her from somewhere. How do we know this woman?” Okay, right. And I looked through all my photo albums. Okay, I’m gonna cover up any people that maybe we don’t want to show from the past, but I met you when I…this was 1997. So I was okay, get ready. I’m surprising everyone this is not rehearsed. This is in real time happening. This picture because there’s a date on the back. It says ‘97. Okay, so I walked into your shop in Long Beach Island. I want to say yeah, with my parents. Okay, so I was probably 18. And I put on this really cool striped dress. And I was very awkwar in high school. I am still awkward. Hey, what up awkward ones! We are proud to be awkward. And like, but I was like curvy. And I didn’t feel you know, like, I could wear body con dresses. And you, you put me, I believe you styled me in a dress. And I was like, “okay,” and then you’re like, “will you be in my fashion show?” Okay.

TINA KEREKES:

Well, you know, those fashion shows were very important for me, because I felt like I wanted to be like, I wanted everybody to be involved. I would have 100 models. I wanted everybody to be like every shape, sizes, colors, I just didn’t want it to be one type of person one, one style one body one, you know, one look one color, like we did everybody, so we would have those crazy fashion shows. I felt it was important for us to feel good about our bodies.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

I can’t thank you enough for that. Because I felt that then in ‘97 when I put that dress on, and you were like, “you’re gonna be in my fashion show.” It was actually one of those, you know, formative moments. So you were like, ahead of the whole, I think inclusivity and body positivity thing that we’re seeing right now by having that perspective. So thank you for being so awesome. And actually, it’s leading to this amazing moment. And here we are by accident. Isn’t that incredible?

TINA KEREKES: 

It’s so amazing. Yeah, that was that was my SketchUp home route. And we would throw these crazy parties and they were fashion shows and I would I just I would have just a couple guys. I called them accessories, but it would be mostly girls.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

First of all, I again was so I was starstruck because I swear to God, I had never seen so many cool people in the same place, like you truly are a magnet for this energy. This this celebratory, festive Joie de vive energy like so…I don’t know, that that event really exemplified that for me just you brought all these people into that vibe.

TINA KEREKES:

There’s a there’s a quite a few models in that same show that have moved on, of course, you know, become mothers and an entrepreneurs and a lot of them came up to me and thanked me for that.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

You rock it. This is just one of the many ways that you rock it Tina, so cool. So in addition to doing the gallery, currently you are yourself are also an artist and a designer. Tell us about some of the other things that you have going on right now in your life that we should know about.

TINA KEREKES:

At the moment, I’m very much involved in mentoring young creatives. I had two young kids come in from Cairo school. One’s a fashion designer. The other was a photographer, and we and then I have an intern Jack who’s learning with—I was teaching him sewing this weekend. So we’re all going to come up with a fashion show coming up I think in May. I’ll pull Danny and Max in with it. Justin Fuller. Jack, our new intern and these two young students and we’ll start from the starting the beginning part of it all the way to the finished product abd have them film it and have that be at the gallery so that’ll be a big part of what I’m working on right now. And just you know making things myself. Just you know at this at the same time the sewing machine is going with both with them I’m working on something and I’m working on some because I’m teaching them how to kind of do the straight line, and then the fuck it up.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Absolutely, and rock and roll. So I love that you’re mentoring creatives. And I’m curious if there are people along your journey I would actually women in particular, who kind of helped you to find your creative voice any people along your journey, you’d want to give a shout out who’ve really been pivotal or mentored you along the way?

TINA KEREKES

Yes. Well, absolutely. John Fabian is my mentor from years ago, he actually helped me open up Homebrewed. And he gave me some great advice of running a business and working in fashion. He had a sweater company, and his early days, the first models that he had for his company were Paulina, and Cindy Crawford. 

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Wow, hello. 

TINA KEREKES:

Pretty amazing, I learned so much from him. And one of the things I’ll never forget him telling me was, you know, is that how many times you fall down is how many times you get up, you know, you have to remember that you’re going to fall down, you’re going to make mistakes, but you’re going to, you’re going to learn from your mistakes, and you’re going to just keep working towards you what your dream is, and— which was me owning the store at the time. He still gives great advice. Jen Hampton from Parlor Gallery We’ve been friends since ‘96, ‘97. And she always believed in me.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

Tina, this has been amazing. Thank you so much. Actually, before we conclude, I always like to ask our guests, and you’ve already given us so much great wisdom to follow our muse the way you have but if you want to leave us with One Tip to Rock It in the way that you have, the many ways you have, is there one tip you’d want to leave us with? And of course you can just feel free also to tell us where to get those boots and the jacket that’s fine too.

TINA KEREKES:

Oh man, I don’t know if I have a tip except that you know, you just have to believe in yourself and in whatever outfit or superhero you want to be that day. You just got to make it happen.

KAREN GROSS / SHE ROCKED IT:

‘Nuff said. Thank you so much, Tina, you rock. I can’t wait to see you again at the gallery. Have a beautiful rest of your day. 

OUTRO: Thanks so much for tuning in to the She Rocked It podcast. I’m your host Karen Gross. This episode has been produced by Tori Marchiony with audio engineering by Teng Chen. The She Rocked It theme song is by Karen Gross and Tim Motzer. Visit our Instagram page @sherockedit, join the conversation and visit our website sherockedit.com To learn about how you can join our community, support our work and attend our live events. Also, you can apply on our website for our Rock-It Launcher group mentorship program. See you there!

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