Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Super Star Interviews: Katie Turner

Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.

I’m pleased as pink strawberry lemonade to be chatting it up with the rockstar Artist/Illustrator, Katie Turner! I absolutely love her graphic style and her sweet & spicy sense of humor! Katie is a fellow T2 artist, and I’ve been a fan of her artwork for quite a long time. Katie is from Tulsa, Oklahoma. She got her BFA in illustration from Parsons School of Design and lived in New York for nine years until moving south to Nashville, Tennessee in 2015. She started her career in editorial, working for clients like The New York Times, The New Yorker & The Walrus and now specializes in children's illustration and licensing. She is represented by Tugeau2 for children’s work and Pink Light Design for licensing. You can view more of her artwork here!

Quick! Snap a pic of those butterflies before they flutter off, Bun Bun!!

Q: Your artwork is full of bold color, graphic shapes and fun characters! Dish with us about your creative process—concept to sketches to finished art—and how it all comes together.

A: Thank you! I actually don’t spend as much time sketching and concepting as some illustrators I know, especially a few that I work with at our shared studio here in East Nashville. I got an iPad last summer, and since then I’ve used it and the Procreate app for pretty much every illustration I’ve made. It really simplifies my process!

I will sometimes do a few thumbnail sketches before starting a piece, but sometimes I dive right in and do a really rough sketch directly into the app. Once I’m satisfied with the general composition, I’ll do a tighter sketch in another layer on top of that, and once I’m happy with that I’ll move on to the actual drawing.

I’ve found a way of working that I really enjoy - it’s almost a screenprinting style (or at least that’s how I think of it). I’ll choose 2-4 colors that contrast each other (at the most basic, usually a warm and a cool color) and then use those colors on multiply layers to build my piece. The way the colors mix together gives me about 7 colors to work with! Kind of hard to explain, but I hope this makes sense! The best part is when all the layers are almost finished and I can delete the sketch layer and put in all the finishing details and textures.

Gimme gimme ice cream ice cream!!

Q: You grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, went to art school in New York City and now live in Nashville, Tennessee. How have each of these places influenced and inspired you as an artist?

A: Growing up in Tulsa, I always knew I wanted to be an artist. I’m really lucky in that my parents always supported me in this goal, and that I went to a high school that had a good art program. I had an art teacher in high school that really let us work on the things we wanted to create, rather than having to follow a specific set curriculum.

Moving to New York and attending Parsons opened me up to a new world of experiences and people I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I had awesome teachers that I still admire and look up to to this day. I also got to meet working illustrators and learn what it was like to be a professional artist.

My house in Nashville is right next a park that has a lot of wooded trails, filled with deer and birds and other animals. I really feel like being able to go outside and be in nature regularly is awesome not only for my mental health but also my creativity! I love drawing flowers, plants and bugs most of all so it’s great. I also work at a studio in East Nashville (where two other T2 artists also work - Kayla Stark and Rebecca Green), and I love having a community of other illustrators to talk to and bounce ideas off of.

Hello, Butterfly! It's lovely to meet you!

Q: Your fresh, bright illustrations have found a crossover between editorial work and surface design as well as children’s publishing work. Chat with us a bit about how you balance servicing these 3 very different markets while staying true to your own artistic voice.

A: I’ve been told before that my work has a somewhat more commercial feel, which honestly I don’t mind. I think that is one reason that I’ve been able to go between these these different markets. Obviously I’m often drawing very different things when it comes to editorial, licensing, and children’s work, but I think my style stays relatively consistent whether I’m illustrating a short story, a pattern or a newspaper article. I also tend to use the same general color palette a lot (hello pink and turquoise, my favorite colors!), which helps to tie all my work together.

Q: Give us the full scoop on your MOST favorite projects: one from your past & one from your present.

A: In the past, even when I was doing more traditional editorial work for newspapers and magazines, some of my favorite jobs were the illustrations I got to do for Cricket Magazine, which is a magazine for children. I think part of the reason I realized I wanted to work in children’s illustration more was from getting those jobs! My favorite current project is the children’s books I’m writing and illustrating myself. As a control freak, I love having full control of everything and really getting to go wild with my ideas and illustration.

Right now I’m working on a book about a gnome who loses her home and has to find a new one, traveling through the woods and meeting adventures along the way. It’s super fun!

Just straight up chillin'!

Q: What would be your absolutely DREAM illustration project?

A: My dream illustration project would be to have my own books published! I really want to write a book about bugs — they’re one of my favorite subjects and favorite things to draw. A book filled with butterflies, ladybugs, snails and caterpillars sounds pretty perfect to me!

Q: Describe your most perfect Sunday.

A: My ideal Sunday would be a beautiful sunny day in the summer. It would start with an awesome diner breakfast with my husband, followed by a leisurely long walk through the woods, checking out all the cute little bugs, flowers and animals along the way. Since this is my ideal Sunday I’d also have some time to read on my porch, drink some iced tea, and then have ramen for dinner. Then we’d end the night at the movies where we’d gorge ourselves on popcorn and candy!

Thank you so much, Katie, for dishing about all things art & illustration with us here at Bird Meets Worm!! We think you’re the cat’s meow!