I first met Kat Wharton through one of my students and instantly fell in love with her illustration style. Luckily a semester or two later, I had the pleasure of having Kat in my classes (two or three of them…time flies and I’m forgetful!). Kat’s work is wonderful, thoughtful and intriguing. From sheep and alpacas who embrace every color of the rainbow, to music inspirations and as well literary homages…her work covers the gamut. I love her style and use of color and her unwavering work ethic. She has an amazing attention to detail and you can tell her love of the literary world entwines itself into her art. Be sure to follow her work–she’s a rising star for sure!
C: What is your main focus?
K: I am an illustrator. I generally do traditional ink, pencil, and watercolor work. I am learning graphic design to supplement my art.
C: Have you always been interested in art/design/illustration? If so, why? If not, what were you interested in?
K: I have. It’s cliche, but I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pencil; my grandmother’s walls are evidence of that. I always found myself recreating characters I saw in cartoons, movies, and books from a young age. As time went on, I fell in love with comic books and sequential artwork. I would watch programs on how cartoons and stop-motion films were animated frame by frame and was totally captivated by the process. I didn’t learn what “illustration” was until I was 15 and reading “Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art” by Scott McCloud. He was talking about how he had a degree in Illustration and I realized that that’s basically a certification in making graphic novels and images based in words (which words are another passion of mine, as I am also a literature major in addition to a fine arts major). So, it was then I realized my passion had a name and an actual career field. What inspired me to make my own comics was an experience at the same age. I was at my first ComicCon, Baltimore’s is the last remaining strictly comic book ComicCon left in the country. I was sitting in on a panel regarding the new Thor Movie that was coming out at that time; Thor was my favorite superhero then. The creator of the original Thor comics was describing how when illustrating the space scenes he didn’t know about white out, so he would draw around each tiny individual star. I had that tingly moment when you realize you do the same exact thing and this person, one of your idols, is just like you. It was the first time I ever considered comic books as a line of work.
C: Goals you’d like to achieve in 1 year? 5 years? A lifetime? (a biggie, I know!)
K: I would love to get books published, even just one would be amazing. I have a lot of ideas and half-baked story lines cooking on the back-burner at all times, but this year I’ve resolved to write them all out, and get cracking on the illustrations and story boarding.
C: Why do you create?
K: I just always have. It’s become part of who I am, part of my routine, and part of how I make my living. I can never understand when people say they are bored or have nothing to do, because I can always find something to work on and create. It’s a stress reliever; it’s an expression of energy; it’s a way for me to get my thoughts, feelings, and commentary on the world and how I see it out.
C: What (or whom) is your inspiration? Why?
K: I have a list of artistic influences a mile long: Bill Watterson, Mike Mignola, Brian Selznick, Kate Beaton, and Fran Kraus to name a few. My main motivation inspiration is that I want to create artwork that gets others as excited about art and writing as my influences make me feel. I just want to make cool books that people pick up off of the shelf and gobble down right there in the aisle because they can’t wait to read it later..
C: Where do you see yourself going on your career path? What are your hopes/dreams/aspirations?
K I have been considering teaching for many years now. There is something about imparting what you care about to others and potentially impacting future generations that seems like the most rewarding career path I could imagine. I would also love to do illustrations for a living, and get books published on the regular. Right now, I’m going to keep working, keep learning, keep my options open, stay flexible, and see what work I can fall into and be happy with.
C: Best advice you’ve ever received?
K: This comes from my step-dad. He taught me all of the basics as a kid, from shading, to perspective, to faces. I was always hung up on heavy graphite work, but he got me using inks because “If you use pen, you can’t keep erasing your mistakes. You’ll have to learn to work with them.” This is one of the most zen things I believe he’s ever said, and I have honestly implemented it in my life, beyond just picking a medium for art.
C: Gimme the deets! What’s your instagram/twitter/snap/society6/redbubble/etc and website info?