I am delighted you want to find out more about me personally, however please talk to my agents about commissions as they handle all of that for me. I look forward to working with you.
Kathryn Rathke

Kathryn Rathke

About
Impressions
Interview
Video
Based in Seattle, Kathryn sometimes creates an image using just one fluid and continuous line, another trick to hook in the viewer and engage them with her client’s project. According to the Seattle-based artist she owes her drawing skills to her grandmother, who taught her to draw and supplied her with books by Arthur Rackham, Maurice Sendak and William Steig; and her father who was president of an advertising agency and brought home reams of paper for her to practice on.

Approach


Kathryn does everything digitally in Photoshop and Illustrator using a Cintiq screen by Wacom. She draws portrait subjects many times over from different angles, learning their facial features so that her final work is instantly recognizable.

Styles


Expressive and calligraphic, there’s a unique sense of gesture in Kathryn’s line illustrations. She works in a variety of styles, using shading, texture and colored backgrounds in different ways to achieve a unique look for her client.

Awards


2005 – AI-AP Award
2010 – Communication Arts Award of Excellence
2012 – AI-AP Award
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Kathryn: I have always drawn, ever since I could hold a pencil in my wee little hand, and discovered early on that I was very good at representing what I was seeing. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Kathryn: I earned an MFA in scenographic design from the University of Wisconsin. I had set out on a career in designing sets for theatre, but realized a few years into it that I really preferred illustration. Question: Where are you originally from? Kathryn: Rockford, Illinois. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Kathryn: I headed west, like any adventure-seeking American, partly to escape the midwest climate, and partly because Seattle was looking to be a very promising city. It was right on the cusp of great developments there; Starbucks, Microsoft, and Nirvana were all still in their infancy. It is a beautiful and progressive city and 20 years on I am absolutely happy here. Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Kathryn: My studio is in my house. I do nearly all of my work on a Wacom tablet, so it is for the most part a fairly unpicturesque set-up I’m afraid, except for my rotund one-eyed cat sleeping in the corner. Question: Who or What is your biggest inspiration? Kathryn: Sometimes to get inspired I look through my 1966 -1969 Graphis Annuals. I particularly enjoy the Polish Posters. They are incredibly thoughtful and mysterious. German and British theatre continue to fascinate me. In April I flew all the way to L.A. to see a fascinating staging of Gotterdammerung by the insanely great director, Achim Freyer. Question: Do you collect anything? Kathryn: I do collect Polish Theatre posters. I picked up a whole lot in Krakow, they were all so brilliant I could hardly bear to say no to any of them.
Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. Kathryn: The one I am most proud of is my recent cover for the NY Observer. The art director contacted me in the summer to get acquainted, see if I was comfortable with three day turnarounds, etc. Then a week later the phone rang at 7am. George Steinbrenner, the owner of the Yankees baseball team, had just died, and they wanted a portrait of him for their cover, and needed it by 5pm NY time (2pm my time)!!! The time constraints and the fact that it was my first cover for them lent enormous pressure to the project, but I got it done an hour early and was really pleased with it. I am not really a sports fan and don’t know much about the man, but people tell me I caught his aura of lovable bully. Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Kathryn: A series of portraits of my favourite British authors and playwrights, which would include Evelyn Waugh, Samuel Beckett, Dame Edith Sitwell, and Martin Amis. Question: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Kathryn: Not really advice, but one of my favourite quotes that goes through my mind often; "The secret of being miserable is to have leisure to bother about whether you are happy or not." - G.B. Shaw. Question: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Kathryn: I love Berlin. I need a Babelfish for my ear, so that I can understand the theatre. Or I would visit London every three weeks, to take in the marvellous theatre. Derek Jacobi as Lear?! - swoon!!! Venezuela is also on our near-future list. Question: If you could travel back in time, who would be the one person you would want to meet? Kathryn: Theodore Roosevelt. I just read a great biography on him and I’d love to hear him speak. Or Abraham Lincoln; I’ve always had a huge crush on him.
SELECTED CLIENTS:
Paramount Pictures, The Economist Magazine, NY Observer, "O" Magazine, American Express, Vanity Fair, TimeOut NY, The Village Voice, Time.com

Favourites
Café: Le Pichet Seattle
Drink: Casa Vieja in Albuquerque, where they serve a cocktail
featuring corn-infused vodka!
Holiday/Travel Destination: The San Geronimo Lodge Taos, New Mexico
 
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