Where Paper meets Fashion: In Conversation with Katie Rodgers
Katie Rodgers is a fashion illustrator based in New York. Growing up in Georgia, she was far away from the glamorous New York City runways and instead spent her time browsing magazines and painting the images she saw in them. She has been painting since the age of 7 and continued her hobby by studying Industrial Design in college. While she initially worked as an apparel designer for some time, it wasn’t long before her fanciful watercolors caught the attention of high-end designers such as Cartier, Valentino, and Swarovski. She is often commissioned by designers to illustrate their designs to give them a more natural, flowing look. She even incorporates various media into her work- sequins, food, fabric, an installation in the Sahara- anything that catches her eyes! She works as a freelance artist and also sells her paintings as prints on Society6.
Here are excerpts of our conversation edited for clarity
Tell me a bit about yourself. How did you first begin painting?
I was painting as early as I can remember! It’s always been a part of my life. Currently, I live in New York City, and am an artist working primarily within the fashion industry with dreams of doing much much more.
Your watercolors are described as whimsical and romantic – what goes through your mind as you paint?
It depends what I’m working on, I am very influenced by music. I put on my ‘haunting’ playlist and my mind goes to a dark but romantic place. I put on my ‘shadow dancer’ playlist and my mind winds in and out of whimsical fantasy worlds. Part of what I love most about painting is connecting to the other worlds that live inside my imagination. It’s a complete departure from reality!
How would you describe your figures to the viewer?
My work has evolved over the years, but the figures within my work are often a bit abstract. I try to keep them as simple as possible. I believe there’s something interesting where my viewer can look at my work and fill in the details in their own way.
The girls I create don’t have lots of noticeable characteristics. They can be any race, they can be anyone. They are fluid like dancers in their movement.
What would you cite as your inspirations behind your work?
Ballet, music, quiet moments, mystery, and a bit of what’s within myself.
Which artists’ work do you admire?
At the moment I’m very inspired by Dali’s surrealism and street art.
What would you say is your favorite piece of your own work and why?
I haven’t created it yet! I’m my own biggest critic and the moment I finish a piece I’ve already moved to a new idea.
You have been commissioned by several high profile designers to illustrate their work. Could you describe how that experience was for you?
It’s very cool to work with brands and figure out we can combine our work in some way. It’s a challenge I enjoy to create something that speaks my style and vision, but also speaks for the brand’s vision. There’s a fine line between too little creative direction and too much- it can be tricky!
Photos Credit: Katie Rodgers