Did you go to school for art, and if so, where?
Yes. I attended college at the American Academy of Art in Chicago, IL from 2005 until 2010. My focus was in commercial illustration and watercolor. In late 2016 I was also enrolled in an online mentorship program, SmART School, under Rebecca Leveille-Guay.
How long have you been working as an artist?
I got my first professional freelance job in 2009 while I was still attending college, and since then I have been working part time as a freelance illustrator.
How did you get your foot in the door/ your first professional gig?
That first job was a product of networking. I have been an avid member of the game community, and some of my friends know people who are producing a variety of things from books, games, comics, ect. My friend David had me show my portfolio to an art director he knew, and I wound up getting to do work for that person right away.
What advice can you give me about how to get work opportunities?
My personal experience has been via social networking. Talking to other artists and art directors face to face has helped me to create relationships in the communities I am interested in. It has also helped me to consistently show my growth as an artist, and question what matters to me as a creative.
There are a lot of venues nowadays online. Most companies will have an art submission link. Make sure to research who you want to get work for, and that your style of work is compatible with those brands. And check out local conventions, galleries, and art fairs.
A Few Recommended Sources:
Illustration Age https://illustrationage.com/adcontacts/
Drawn and Drafted http://www.drawnanddrafted.com/
Art PACT http://artpact.com/
Dear AD http://dearartdirector.tumblr.com/
One Fantastic Week http://www.1fantasticweek.com/
Muddy Colors http://muddycolors.blogspot.jp/
Additionally in your research, be it for commercial work or fine art shows, research artists like you. Or look at artists who are producing work in the same interests as you. Go to their websites and look through their clients or CV at places they have done work or shown at. Then research those places. Flex your google-fu muscles, the information is out there.
What media do you work in?
I work primarily in watercolor, though at times I will use other water media such as gouache, ink, or fluid acrylics.
Why do you work in watercolor?
After experimenting with a number of other media throughout high school and college, it was the one medium I really enjoyed working in.
What brands do you like to use?
I use a number of brands, and I think it’s important to try out what works for you. There is no magic tool that will make you better at creating, but there are going to be things that you will love over others. Some things I use:
Watercolor Paints: (From Tubes) Windsor & Newton, Daler-Rowney, Holbein, Kusakabe, Blick, Daniel Smith
Watercolor Paper: Arches hotpress watercolor paper at 140lbs (usually the blocks)
Sketch Books: I am a huge fan of the travelogue series artist journals from Global Art Materials Inc. Especially to use as travel watercolor books.
Brushes: I haven’t really settled on any brand in particular, though I do always use synthetic watercolor or acrylic brushes. I will say that I do rather like using Princeton’s Select Fix-It brush if I ever need a bit more when lifting/scrubbing out.
Tape: I really like using either Pro Tape or Blick Artist Tape (in black)
What techniques do you most often use? Do you use masking fluid?
All of my work is sketched out and drawn out on paper, and then I use a lightbox method to transfer my drawing by tracing onto my painting surface. I work from reference material I either find on stock sites, or I shoot my own, or see if I can ask some of my artist buddies if they can shoot reference for me if I need it.
I work mostly wet brush on dry paper, and very seldom do I work wet in wet. I work by building up in layers, paying attention to my edges, and at times dry brushing to get smooth gradations. Sometimes I let the natural white of the paper show through, and sometimes I go in with white water media if I feel the need.
My painting method is pretty controlled, and I don’t like trying to paint loosely. I also don’t like to use resists like salt, wax, or masking fluid.
What inspires you to create?
Probably other watercolor artists, though it’s not really limited to medium I suppose. I enjoy seeing art in my social media feeds, or my library of art books. And friends who are also artists, it is hard not to want to make something when you see friends making stuff too. I am not really sure what motivates me to create, it probably changes a lot.
What interests influence your work?
I mentioned being in the game community through college, and while that has lessened a bit over the years I think that is still a prominent influence. I am aware a bit more of what my personal tastes towards being a fan of things are, and I am learning to apply that to things when I consider creating work now, as opposed to just mindlessly making things in the hopes they will sell. Other interests I think have a hand in my work include history, lore, mythology, some of the books I enjoy reading (both fiction and non), photography (like from nat geo), pop culture (movies and shows), female characters both fiction and non.
Who are your artistic influences?
I am still trying to sieve through a large number of artists whose work I feel has been a contributing factor to my own. My top three would probably be Terese Nielsen, Stephanie Law, and Rebecca Leveille-Guay.
Others would include illustrators from the golden age like Du Lac and Rackham, contemporary Asian artists like Miho Hirano and Ikenaga Yasunari, as well as masters from English Classicist painters like Draper to Art Nouveau painters like Klimt.
Are you available for commission?
You can always email me at firstname.lastname@example.org too inquire about whether or not I am open for work.
What are your art usage policies?
For licensing opportunities please contact me at email@example.com
General Permissions for Website, Blog, Journal:
- Credit my work as © Kat G. Birmelin
- Provide a link to my website katgbirmelin.squarespace.com
- Do not alter my work: No cropping images, removing signatures, adding filters. Ect.
- Do not post my work on photo sharing sites like Flickr or Photobucket
- Email me first so that I can approve or disapprove how my artwork will be shown
Personal Use: If you want to use my work as a desktop or phone background for yourself that is ok.
Reference: If you want to reference my work for yourself that is ok. This includes using specific parts of my art or trying out elements of my approach or style, as this is another method of learning. However please provide a link back to the image you used as a reference and provide proper credit. If you are unsure you can send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org