Say 'Hello!' to Katie Evans

Katie Evans is a graphic designer, an illustrator, and all round charmer. Luckily for us, her work is just as charming as she is. Combining corporate success with true pencil to paper artistry, Katie holds integrity and an admirable passion for her craft. Positioned at ‘kate spade new york,’ her designs and illustrations embellish all kinds of clothing and accessories. Her almost iconic work for the label presents her own personal quirkiness, yet still retains the elegance of the global brand, while her personal work playfully illustrates the world around her. She adds current trends and a fashionable edge to timeless style, and all of this synergy extends beyond her professional work, into exciting blogs and an Etsy store. Living and working in NYC, she lives and breathes the liveliness shown in her work, the same energy you get just by talking to her.

How would you describe your work and style? My work is lighthearted and colorful with a bit of sass. I like to draw silly things and make ordinary objects exciting. I’m attracted to bold colors (lots of them!) and graphic prints. I enjoy mixing patterns and getting a little kitschy in my accessories.

How would you describe your creative process? I start by researching and pulling inspiration relating to the assignment. This is one of my favorite parts of the process because I get to spend time looking for beautiful imagery, sexy typefaces, innovative packaging etc. After that I do a lot of hand-sketching to work my ideas out on paper. Sometimes I have to get through the bad to get to the good ones, and sometimes I get a happy accident that evolved from something totally random. Then, I pick my favorites and present them to the client. We’ll brainstorm together and evolve a couple of the favorites, and then I’ll further the develop the ideas until we pick one to move forward with.

Where does your inspiration come from? I love going through vintage fashion and travel magazines from the 60s. They are full of interesting campaigns and editorials. The copywriting is very entertaining, and the graphic design style from that era is one of my favourites. Another source of inspiration is the people around me - at work, on the streets, sitting next to me at a bar. It’s everywhere if you know how to look for it.

Who has been most influential in your creative life? My parents were the ones who encouraged me to enter the poster drawing contests in elementary school. That is one of my first memories of being an artist. They supported me through middle and high school art auditions, and then again through college applications. My parents taught me about working hard and giving something your all to get to where you want to be, and make things happen for yourself. I’m also creatively influenced by my coworkers at Kate Spade New York. I work with such a talented team of designers, directors, and writers. There are so many different skill sets and personalities, and when you put us all together we’re a dream team. That may sound corny, but it’s so true.

If you could peek into the studio of any artist (dead or alive), who would would you choose? Charley Harper! I’m obsessed with how he captured the essences of his subjects with the fewest possible elements. His animals are incredibly beautiful and made of simple shapes and textures. I’ve always admired his style.

What is a day in your office like? A day at ‘kate spade new york’ is crazy and full of excitement. One of my favorite things about working there is that I get to wear a lot of hats. My days are never the same, and I am always being challenged in different ways. I could go from meeting with our fashion accessories team to plan a new season’s tech products, to brainstorming an ad campaign. It’s always changing and keeping me on my toes.

How do you get out of your creative ruts? If I’m struggling to work out my ideas, I take a walk. Looking at the computer all day can be hard and exhausting. Being able to break away and walk around the block helps me recharge. Sometimes that walk leads me to the park where I people-watch, and sometimes it leads me to the ice cream parlor down the street.

When you’re not working - what are you doing? My fiance, John, and I moved into our first place together last summer. We’re slowly making our apartment feel like us, and finding furniture that we can both agree on. I also like to bake in my pint-sized kitchen. I enjoy the mixing and stirring and then anxiously waiting for it to be finished. John proposed this past November and we are knee-deep in wedding business, but we’re enjoying planning the biggest part of our lives.

Tell us about your your Tumblr and Etsy store - how did these things come about and how do they differ from your professional work? My Tumblr is a gallery of illustrated moments in my life. I started it because I wanted to develop my illustration style more fully, and I needed a new channel that would give me the opportunity to experiment. I get illustration work at Kate Spade New York, and in my freelance jobs, but I wanted to take it even further. It’s a place for me to try new styles and get a little more playful than I usually do. My Etsy shop came after Tumblr. I found myself with all of these fun illustrations that people were enjoying and I wanted to give them a chance to like it in a different way. It spans from stationery to custom illustrations.

What does it feel like to see your creations on clothing accessories and in windows all around the world? It’s hard to describe, but it’s one of the coolest feelings in the world. My favorite moments are when I pass someone on the street with something I designed. Knowing that girl felt a connection with something I did, loved it, and had to buy it, makes me feel so happy. I am very proud of what I do, and when I see other people excited about it too, it makes it even better.

What are your plans for the future? One of my goals for this year was to set more time aside to work on fun personal projects. I think it’s important to give yourself that time to explore something new that makes you happy. I am also working on planning my wedding. I’ll be designing everything paper related, transforming the space, and possibly dipping my toes into floral arranging. We’re trying not to get caught up in it and just enjoy it all.

Do you have any advice for budding artists? Put yourself out there as much as possible. Get on all the social media platforms and keep your website current. If the right person notices it, it will make a big difference in your career path. I would encourage new artists to experiment and find a style that feels unique and true to themselves. Doing something you love will only make you a stronger artist. It will show in your work, and other people will be able to see it too.

Published in the May 2012 issue of Zooey Magazine

Interviewed by Francesca Nicol Photographed by Bryant Eslava