Artist Spotlight: Blake Kathryn
Tell us about yourself. Where did you grow up and how did you find yourself interested in design? Was there a pivotal moment that you can remember?
Hi and thanks for having me! My name is Blake Kathryn and I work across digital mediums to create illustrations and motion graphics that balance between surreal and ethereal. My love for these realms was fostered at a young age, unbeknownst to me at the time, from growing up in Florida. Having moved around the state quite a bit in my more formative years, I bounced from concrete jungles to swampy stretches, and largely undeveloped suburbs to country clubs. Sprinkle that variety in with the fact that it's an odd kitschy state and you have a nice recipe for the unusual. I first dabbled in graphic design as an elective in high school and it birthed a love for what I imagined the advertising world would be like. Upon touring the university I would attend, I was quickly suggested that a more hands on career might better suit my passions and am thankful everyday for that conversation that shaped the first steps of my eventual career.People often attribute nostalgia to A E S T H E T I C and Vaporwave. Why do you believe this is such a powerful force for so many people? How do you translate that feeling into your art?
A lot of content and themes pulled in those are directly associated to what people in the late teens/young adult realm currently associate with nostalgia, hence it’s powerful pull. Vaporwave's core quite literally takes from '80s and '90s aesthetics, and the music deconstructs while paying tribute to the technological style of the period. As time passes, mainstream nostalgic appeal will continue to evolve as well and lead to the birth the next movement. We're already seeing this "new nostalgia" in certain areas - such as the increased rise of Y2K vibes in fashion.
Regarding it’s translation into my own work, I feel it's more abstractly inspired from it through palette influences. Also, I aim to emote an ethereal air in my works which is easily paired with nostalgia on the emotional spectrum.
What inspires you the most about creating your artwork and what kind of image or idea are you ultimately trying to convey to your audience?
Working in the design field for some time now, it's a constant journey seeing my perspective and aspirations for my work shape differently over time. What currently inspires me is reading and going through criterion collection films. I recently went on quite a philosophical kick for both while navigating through an emotional period in life and work. From that it spurred a series touching upon more environmental and architectural subjects. Crafting these escapes became a therapeutic practice and the positive reception from others has been so heartwarming.
How do you feel like the cultural and philosophical themes of Vaporwave have influenced your artwork?
I'd say more so abstractly, via color and emotions from your earlier question. My primary influences are generally found through the design industry and concept artists.
Do you have a work ritual? Take us through the process of creating your art.
[Laughing] I always feel like a jerk when I answer this because it sounds so dry - an idea sparks, I document, whether that be detailed notes, sketches or a combination of the two, and then dive into a blank digital canvas. I have lately introduced digital painting into my final workflow. I enjoy when you can't personally distinguish what medium something is on first impression - this process addition is something I look forward to continue expanding upon.
Who are some of your favorite artists, business people, creatives or intellectuals?
Illustrators - James Jean, Aykut Aydogdu, Jenny Yu
Creatives - Nadia Lee Cohen (director), Alex Garland (director/writer), Guillermo Del Toro (director), Roger Deakins (cinematography), Liam Wong (photographer)
I'm less savvy at the moment on pulling business or intellectual favorites, though I do enjoy pulling up Alan Watts lectures during my morning coffee on the weekdays.
What has been the highlight of your artistic career so far?
Honestly, the people I've met. By becoming friendly within the more artistic community you're not only creating real human connections but also gifted an ongoing introduction to fresh inspirations and new approaches. For a more self-centered answer: seeing my work in the real world - whether it be apparel designs, gallery exhibits, or products. We don't live in a screen and it's refreshing when my work doesn't have to.
Please tell us something about yourself that we may not know that influences your work.
I've started going on long walks about 5 days a week - zig zagging through varying neighborhoods from industrial blocks to rose bush adorned residential streets. I try to explore at least one new street each time and have a growing catalog of architectural crushes mentally tucked away.
What are your plans for the future and direction of your work? How do you see yourself growing as an artist?
I adopted the principle this past year to create more purposeful work vs. generating a higher quantity of work for the sake of rushing an idea to get onto the next. The result thus far has led to an increase in my piece's complexity - on a technical level and I'd like to think conceptual. Allowing myself time to revisit a piece took some time to fully adopt, as with share culture today there's such a pressure to always show you're working on something. I've also been sitting on a well fleshed out longer form project for some time, but my skill set isn't where I'd like it to be to tackle that yet - so that remains to be seen.
I've found the key to my own growth is to never stop learning. Even if you're actively practicing your passion, it's easy to find yourself in a pattern, which is how I often felt last year. In the past few months, I've required myself to break this repetition through several online digital art classes and seeking inspiration through methods outside of digital feeds.
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
The cliche advice of be true to yourself + the 10,000 hour rule are both very much true. On a more personal note, be precious with how you're spending your time and energy. I began taking longer strolls to get off my phone when I realized my scrolling habits had become unhealthy and it spawned accidental inspiration that has led to some of the work I'm most proud of this year. And to end on a business savvy bit - with the inter-connectivity in our day to day lives it's easier while simultaneously harder than ever to get a "break through". Don't let this discourage you - practice often, work hard, study your influence's influences, meet colleagues in real life. Those notes along with sharing quality work do, eventually, lead to pushing your work and presence further.
Been lovely chatting! Thanks again for having me and if you're reading - have a dope day °☆ ⸜( ˙ ˘ ˙)⸝ ♡°