Interview: Kat

Today we’re joined by Kat. Kat is a fantastic visual artist who specializes in book cover design. They work as a very small graphic design business and most of their clientele is indie authors. They have been in print design for 16 years and designing book covers for 10. According to Kat, “ I also do some fiber arts, and advocate strongly for the rights of the disabled, mentally ill, and indigenous peoples. I have a house full of birds and one adult human child.” It’s very apparent they really enjoy their work. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

In the past I worked with print shops and as Art Director for a publisher, but now I work with independent authors who are publishing on Amazon or other similar venues.

Usually my work involves strong hierarchy of information, image collage, client input, and clean typography.

You can see a bunch of the publisher work here http://www.anobii.com/melodicadesign/books

And some other sample stuff at http://melodicadesign.com

What inspires you?

I grew up in the 80s on a semi-rural hobby farm, so I feel the root of my work is in a nature based, or minimalistic Yankee aesthetic. Some might find it boring, but most clients choose to hire me because it’s not fancy in any way.

When working for the publisher, I often visited the blog of David Drummond and Henry Sene Yee. They influenced my covers quite a bit.

( http://daviddrummond.blogspot.com/http://henryseneyee.blogspot.com/ )

Otherwise I find inspiration in the aesthetic of Japanese illustrators like Yoko Tanji and Maruti Bitamin, Mori Girl Tumblr, nature Tumblr — and when all else fails I crack open an old W. W. Norton Publisher catalog I’ve had for ages.

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

When I was in high school I declared I wanted to be an artist, but my parents claimed there was no money in it. This was pre-internets, so really they were kinda right. Still, I took art and photography electives.

In the end, I fell in love, had a baby, got ditched, and decided to go to college for early childhood education. I wanted to be a Montessori teacher so my kid could go to a really good school ‘for free’. Then I changed my major to psychology, and then philosophy.

My daughter was diagnosed with autism in the late 90s, and I had to think more about a career that wouldn’t require more years of school. I chose graphic design, and it was actually really fulfilling. The market was booming at the time, so it seemed like the logical thing to do.

I worked at places like Kinko’s for a long time. I finally got sick of all the corporate culture creep that was happening (design work outsourced, uniforms, I was basically paid to click print, etc.), and after a few months of sweet, sweet unemployment, walked into a new place up the road that read “Revolution Booksellers” – I thought, “Oh hey! I’ve always wanted to work at a bookstore!” – turns out they were a distribution and sales company for the publisher in the same building whose sign just hadn’t been made yet. I was basically hired on the spot to design books. A year later I was Art Director. The company started to collapse after the economic crash of 2008, and was gone by 2010.

It’s a shame you can’t do that anymore. So many qualified people’s resumes just go into the digital circular file. At least back in the day, when you went into a place to give your resume, you could make an impression on the staff with dress or friendliness.

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I can’t say that I really do sneak anything in. I guess what I do sneak in is as many free images as I can from free stock sites and stuff. I download a bunch of stuff from Creative Market on their weekly free page. I’m kind of awful like that. I’m a Yankee. ):

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

The indie author marketplace is booming right now, and oddly enough Etsy has given me like 75% of my new clients– so if you have photoshop and a decent grasp of type and image hierarchy, resolution, and can follow specs, you can do this work.

This will probably offend, but in my experience… don’t work with “horse people” (authors who own horses and write about horses) — unless you enjoy micro-management, constant revisions, and flip flopping – only to be blown off for someone cheaper when the project is 90% done (you will later be contacted and asked questions about why the cheaper quality is worse than yours). I’m just sayin’… in my extensive animal book making experience.

“Dog people” are hands down the best clients to work for. They’re just like “Do whatever! I know it’ll be amazing, I trust you!” and then they’re amazed with their book about dogs, and will send you thank you cards and maybe treats.

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

After looking at your newfangled spectrums I’m gonna go with panromantic grey ace. To be honest I don’t think about my orientations all that much. I think at my age you don’t put as much importance as to where you fit in a certain area of society or group. This might be the root to some young people feeling blown off by otherwise understanding parents.

What I do know is I just don’t find people ‘attractive’ – like I joined the app ‘whisper’ recently and the amount of sexual thirst in my immediate area is amazing. Sex is just not on my mind like at all, I walk into a crowd of people and I just see all kinds of people. There aren’t really any people I want to bang, there’s no one that I’m undressing with my eyes. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever even been able to undress someone with my eyes.

I’m sex positive, and obviously have had a child, so there was quite a bit of sex when I was younger, usually partner initiated. I’ve been without a partner for 10 years now, and that’s OK too.

I was raised by an abusive parent who was sex repulsed, so I’m still always surprised when ace kids say their parents are disappointed that they’re ace. Like, when I was growing up, you didn’t want your kids fucking anything anywhere. If a kid said ‘I don’t feel attracted to anyone, so I guess I’m not doing the sex thing’, parents of my childhood (boomers) would have been singing hallelujah. But times change, man — and my family was not functional.

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

Not really, but there is a certain feeling of being left out of any adult situation when you don’t feel the same urge or whatever-it-is that other adults do.

There’s either a perceived innocence, or a hyper-vigilance in social situations. You either completely miss the meaning of the sentence “Yeah I work at the local college, and man, the scenery is great.” (I replied that I love the landscaping at colleges, it’s so clean), or you have to work overtime in your head to parse what they’re really saying: “I work at a college and want to do every girl on campus, they’re all so sexy looking” – then do you concur, look at them funny, or be a drag and look repulsed?

I once described it as being at the Thanksgiving kids table forever.

Professionally… it’s sort of like, in corporate culture, even though there are laws now about sexual stuff in the work place… it’s still all very driven by sexuality and relationships between people. Like it’s the most basic drive to succeed that we don’t really acknowledge all that much. So when you don’t experience that basic drive, you might not aim as high, or you might get overlooked for someone more ‘driven’.

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That it’s a symptom of mental illness or psychiatric drugs, or that an asexual can’t enjoy erotica or other stimulating stuff.

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

I guess I’m still struggling here and there with it. All my friends know via Facebook, and I post about it so they’re aware and can read more if they want to.

I think that as you age, you get more comfortable with who you are (hopefully), and become more and more ok with your orientation.  I’m really not in contact with family, so I can’t really give any advice on talking to relatives/family about it.

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

I’m available through Etsy http://melodicadesign.etsy.com
And my website http://melodicadesign.com
An older collection of books http://www.anobii.com/melodicadesign/books
You can reach me via email at kat@melodicadesign.com

Thank you, Kat, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.

Interview: Louisa

Today we’re joined by Louisa. Louisa is an amazing visual artist who also does a lot of sewing. She creates the most adorable plushies ever (seriously need to check out her work, it’s so awesome). As a digital artist, Louisa draws mostly her own original characters. She really enjoys making toys and dolls. Louisa has such an incredible amount of talent, which is very apparent in her work. My thanks to her for taking the time to participate in this interview.

ClothDollFace
Cloth Doll Face

WORK

Please, tell us about your art.

My art is a real mix. For a really long time I classed myself as a digital artist, and in a way didn’t count anything else I did as ‘upload’ worthy. But now I’m slowly getting used to the idea that other stuff I do can be ‘upload worthy’ too. (I need to get better at taking photos of the stuff I make) I love sewing (both by machine and hand) and spend far too much of my time making plushies.

I have been sewing a lot recently as I find it really helps my depression. I am currently working on making my own toy patterns, as someday I would love to sell what I make. It is a lot of trial and error, but very fun and satisfying.

ClothDollSwing
Cloth Doll Swing

What inspires you?

Music and song lyrics tend to get ideas going in my head.

I also like to see what other people do. I also sometimes see ‘professional’ artwork on adverts or menus and stuff and think, “I could do better than that!”

FeltDoll
Felt Doll

What got you interested in your field?  Have you always wanted to be an artist?

I just like to make stuff, it is how I fill my time. I know it is a horrible cliché; but I have been drawing since I could hold a pencil (according to my mum anyway!) I guess a lot of the reason I want to express myself in an artistic way is that having dyslexia sometimes makes it hard to do so with words.

Despite this I am attempting to write a novel (an other form of art). All the non doll, non pony pictures are characters from it. Don’t hold your breath for it though, it going to be years before I am done. (if at all)

When it comes to sewing, it is in my blood, my great grandmother was a seamstress, and some of that talent must of come down the bloodline. Although I don’t make clothes, I make toys.

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Hoover

Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?

I don’t think so? If I do, I am not actively trying.

What advice would you give young aspiring artists?

Oh, oh I have lots of these!

– Learn the rules before you break them (get a basic knowledge of anatomy down, then work on a style, and for the love of all that is good do not pass off a bad anatomy error as ‘style’)

– Have your own style (being able to draw show accurate fan art is great, but doesn’t look so good in a portfolio) but do practice drawing in other people’s styles, just make sure you have your own.

– Bases are evil and are a terrible way to learn how to draw. Don’t use bases…ever

– Tracing is a great way to learn, just don’t pass it off as your own- someone will find out.

– There is nothing wrong with using a reference though.

– Remember that you never stop improving. I’ve seen so many good artist just plateau as they thought they were the best they could be. I’ve even seen people regress and get worse as they think they have no room for improvement, it is sad to watch.

– Try not to compare yourself to others, you are your own person

– This one is really important (and something I need to learn myself)
There is more to art that favs, likes, reblogs, page views etc. Do not measure your worth or talent on how many people click on, or look at your art. On this page? Looking at my art? Think my art is good?  Well… I get little to no attention. Most of the time when I upload to DeviantArt I get no comments, no page views, a few favorites if I am lucky.

It hurts to spend weeks, if not months on something, and just have it overlooked. I still struggle to upload even now, as I gained something of a “What is the point, no-one cares anyway.” Attitude

It is hard to work on when you basically feel like the whole world is ignoring you, but keep going, please. You are so much more talented than you know, I promise.

LemonDrizzleCloudFINAL
Lemon Drizzle Cloud

ASEXUALITY

Where on the spectrum do you identify?

I am a panromantic (I think…) Grey Asexual. Grey as I sometimes I feel attraction, sometimes I don’t. (Mostly don’t) I don’t know what controls this; it seems almost random at times.

I did think I was Aro Ace for a good few years, until I met my boyfriend, felt sexual attraction for the first time and got very, very confused.

Pie_HandDrawnRESIZE
Pie Hand

Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field?  If so, how do you handle it?

I am not sure where I got this thinking from (possibility my own paranoid mind) but I felt that I may not be welcome or seen as being a ‘proper’ asexual because I am grey and in a relationship.

Also had someone tell me how wonderful and pure I was because I was an asexual… which was…um creepy to say the least.

Also the whole “we are not broken!” thing…

Thanks guys for pushing me (someone whose asexuality I am pretty sure was cause by, or made more prominent by abuse) under the bus to prove a point.

Also I think it is very easy for most aces to be ‘straight passing’ or at least ‘sexual passing’

It is something that if you don’t ask, you would never really know, and seeing allosexual and straight is the ‘default’ (sadly) people will just assume you are that.

PieBustRESIZE
Pie Bust

What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?

That asexual= Aromantic and sex repulsed and that only

Also the whole “We are not broken’ thing I mentioned above

PlumPillowRESIZE
Plum Pillow

What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?

No mater where you are on the spectrum, you still count, you are still an ace.

Even if it caused by trauma, don’t let those stupid Tumblr posts get to you, you still count.

SockDoll
Sock Doll

Finally, where can people find out more about your work?

http://high-low.deviantart.com
It is about the only place I am active anymore.
Feel free to follow me, and note me, I’d love to make new friends.

WishDoll
Wish Doll

Thank you, Louisa, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.