Katie is a friend of mine that I have been planning on having as a featured artist for quite some time. When we initially were talking about how we wanted to have artists be a part of what we were doing at Fathom, Katie was the first person who came to mind. She has a daring-ness about her work that continues to impress me. She is not only a good friend, but I also consider her one of the best artists I know. She tends to see the world in a different way than most people which, to me, is an essential quality for a good artist. We are thrilled to have Katie’s work featured in this issue of Fathom and we hope you enjoy her work and are challenged by her work as much as we are. —Jonathan Minnema
What do you do and how can I find it?
I design, illustrate, draw, and write.
In my work I seek to run wild with the wind and explore what it means to be human and how our very existence depends on the world around us.
How did you get started?
I accidentally went to art school. I guess that was my start of sorts. My ambition was to get into industrial design but ended up in a fine arts illustration program instead. After a few years of trying to get away from making visual work and writing I just gave up and went with it.
What is the coolest story you have about doing what you do?
After a session of an intro to two-dimensional design course in undergrad I stepped out of the dim light of the foyer of the art building into the afternoon sun. I looked up and saw the persistent blue sky and the sailing white clouds, present as they had been for thousands of years. Blinking with disbelief and confusion I stumbled and nearly fell over. I saw it with new eyes. Or more, I saw it with my eyes. Art school, particularly that class where we spent hours painting and comparing hundreds of paint swatches, taught me how to see.
I sometimes get to witness my work helping others learn how to see, or to feel, or to hear. Lin Yutang in his book The Importance of Living says, “Being made of this mortal flesh, the partition separating our flesh from our spirit is extremely thin, and the world of spirit, with its finest emotions and greater appreciations of spiritual beauty, cannot be reached except with our senses.” He goes on to conclude, “I consider the education of our senses and our emotions rather more important than the education of our ideas.”
Who (or what) is the biggest inspiration for your work?
The practicality and desperation of lost dog posters and the telephone poles that hold the nails long after the wind rips the posters off.
Exploring the world in nature or in sociology intrigues me. I’m fascinated by what it means to be humans and how our bodies and very existence depend on and interact with the world around us.
If you could give someone advice for doing what you’re doing, what would it be?
Make until you find your voice. Make until your voice finds you.
I contrive so many reasons not to draw, design, and write.
My pencils are the wrong kind, or too short, or too long. I don’t have enough time. I have too much time. My software needs to be updated. I don’t have an audience. I don’t have the audience I want. The light in my workspace is yellow, or white, or bright, or dim. The rain. The sun. My bad hair day.
In reality, if I really feel serious about my craft and my desire to be an artist, I could create with a stick in the mud on a rainy day out in a secluded forest with no audience and a bad hair day. I try and remind myself of this as often as I can.
The work I’m making now is better than what I made two years ago, but it’s nowhere near what I see in my mind’s eye. I want to make deeply moving, profound work. But only through action can I get from making nothing to making something profound. So I make, with short and long pencils and bad hair days.
I hope you will too.