For the month of March we are featuring the lovely Kathryn Zaremba for our Illustrator interview! We actually attended graduate school together and it’s been such a joy to watch her career flourish! Recently some of her designs have been turned into the most gorgeous wallpapers that I am absolutely crazy for. Kathryn illustrated a beautiful print for our book club of the month, very appropriate for National Women’s History month. She is so talented and I hope you enjoy getting to know her a bit!
Read the full interview with the lovely Kathryn Zaremba!
1. How did your illustrative style develop? How has it developed and changed over the course of your career?
Drawing is a much broader concept to me than it might be for your everyday illustrator. I actually approach an idea or project by thinking about the right process to bring it to life. So if I want to create a pattern that looks like paper cut shapes then I will cut them out of paper. If I want to make a wallpaper design that is hand painted then I will get out a paint brush and paint it. I look to the idea as the jumping off point to creating versus sticking with one particular “style”. As an artist and illustrator I never want to be isolated to one medium. I am known more for my use of color, line, and shape versus a specific style. If you think about it, one can draw using string or wire if it suits their idea. So I suppose the answer is, my style is still (and always will be) in development!
2. What do you doodle when you aren’t making anything for a specific project or client?
It really depends! I doodle all of the time and am very influenced by the world around me. I try to make work that is thoughtful, uplifting, and spirited. I want my art to have an overall essence of joy, of whimsy, or even humor! I started making wallpaper because I loved the idea that my work could be a backdrop to someone’s life.
Photo by Emma McAlary
3. How do you stay original, and what tips on the subject do you have for other creatives?
I think constantly sketching and playing around in my studio is key. Also traveling and drawing from personal experience is essential. Some people are inspired by stories or by nature. I am also a huge art nerd and I’m always reading about something whether it be a book on performance art, ceramics, color theory, or an artist biography. I also go to museums all the time. When I lived in NYC and worked for someone else I would call in sick just to go to a museum!
4. Along those lines, how do you react when you sense that other people are copying your work?
I remind myself of this bit of advice I heard in art school: “We all live in the same world and we are sometimes going to make art that looks exactly like someone else’s. But be aware of it, don’t ignore it. Try to shift and evolve your ideas in a different direction. We are all in this together.” Plus, they say copying is the greatest form of flattery, right? So that sometimes helps. : )
5. If you weren’t an illustrator, say, in an alternate universe, what would be your creative outlet?
Maybe I’d try my hand at being a comedian? Haha, I’ve actually already had a different career in the arts. As a kid I was a child actress [Brittany popping in here–Fun fact: Kathryn played Michelle Tanner’s best friend on Full House and was Annie on Broadway!]. So growing up on theatre sets and sound stages influenced me a great deal and is definitely why I wanted to go into the visual arts.
7. What does your studio or workspace mean to you?
It means so much! I am very affected by my environment. When I am in the throes of a project it can get pretty crazy and messy so in order to shift to something else or clear my head, I will start by organizing, rearranging, and preparing my materials for what I need to work on. My dining room was my studio for many years! So having a separate studio now has been a real game changer. I love going there and just being able to focus on the work.
8. Do you feel that attending art or design school is crucial for an artist to “make it” in 2017?
Absolutely not! But it was certainly one of the best experiences of my whole life. I think we are all artists by nature, and if you practice and stick with it long enough you can make anything happen. I certainly learned a lot of fantastic technical things in art school. But most importantly I learned that: First, you think big. Then it’s all problem solving and determination from there.
Huge thank you to the wonderful Kathryn Zaremba! Make sure to check out her website and her Instagram to see more of her beautiful work!
Photographs provided by KZ unless otherwise specified