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Conversations | Kate Lewis

Kate is a muralist, illustrator, and graphic designer living in Chicago.

Describe a project you’re currently working on to a 5 year old.

I love using rulers and straight lines to create geometric shapes inspired by architecture. Sometimes those lines take twists and turns that will twist and turn your brain. I like prompting people to explore that maze in their minds. Sometimes I hide words in the artwork, and sometimes I play with depth to make paintings appear as if they're coming off the wall. I like experimenting with color combinations, and drawing people in with bold palettes.

Your preferred method of getting that good creative vibe going.

I always talk about the need to "romance" yourself into creativity, which gets some good laughs sometimes since it feels much like getting yourself in the "mooooood" to make. I need to be in a space by myself with no distractions, no other people around, no responsibilities or obligations calling me in order to feel that sense of total freedom with nowhere to be and nothing to do.

In that space I can turn on a podcast and drop into the zone so to speak. It's funny because sometimes the idea will come out entirely in an hour, but it will take a week to "set myself up" for that one hour. Sometimes, I'll have one idea I love, run with it for a week, then decide that it doesn't feel quite right and start all over. There's no pacing how long an idea will take to come out in its entirety, and it's cool to see how different it looks in the end compared to where it began.

One living artist or designer you want to have cocktails with.

Camille Walala. She's a huge inspiration to me. I love watching how she's always growing beyond the canvas, or visualizing how the art will be experienced or photographed in a particular space rather than creating something 2D for white walls. Her art is immersive. It's like she's learned how to articulate her world in a way that lets you see inside her brain and live in her imagination. I would love to learn to think on a scale like that.

A piece of art in your home that you LOVE.

I have this piece of art that is more commented on than any other in my house. I bought it on the side of the road from an older southern man in overalls who was painting on corrugated metal while I was waiting for a table to open up in a diner. My favorite part is that on the back of it is scratched, I believe in God, but not as one thing, not as an old man in the sky. I believe that what people call God is something in all of us. I believe that what Jesus, Mohammud, and Buddha and the rest said was right. It's just that the translations have gone wrong" - Ed Edison 13 years old.

What drives you absolutely nuts about the (art) world?

The price of art can be hard to fight for. Sometimes I find that house painters get paid more to paint a wall a solid color than artists do who design and execute an entire mural. That's a shame to me I suppose.

A quote or lyric that your brain won’t shake.

"I'm not afraid, I was born for this" - Alice Oseman. Reminding myself of that, whatever it is that I'm doing keeps me from doubting myself and my choices, which I'm also great at haha. It encourages me to take bigger risks.

Most recent song that you found yourself putting on over and over.

Last book you read that you couldn't put down.

I mean, I have favorite books and all, but I've been so slowly over time paging through "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck" and I'm enjoying the fuck out of it. I actually find myself laughing out loud all the time. It prompts some awesome perspective shifting thoughts, which I always enjoy, so fuck it, I'll say that one.

Recent life upgrade that's been a game changer.

My boyfriend and I rented a cabin out in the redwoods for the winter to do our separate art (he's a furniture maker). We both went into it pretty open to feeling inspired and seeing what we make based on our change in environment from the city. Definitely no walls to paint on out there, so it'll be switching it up for sure in a way I'm jazzed for!

Advice, compliment, insult... something someone once told you that you will never forget.

"When you don't know what to do, a move in any direction is a move in the right direction." I don't know who said it originally, but my mom would always say that to me about major life decisions and it always kind of applied to me with art as well. Like start somewhere, do something; you'll guide yourself with momentum, but you have to take a step.

What was the most memorable field trip you can remember?

We slept over at Sea World one time when we were in grade school. We all had our sleeping bags laid out in a big glass domed tunnel surrounded by water, so you could watch everything swimming at night. I remember loving the blue hue of the room when they turned the lights off so the only light was filtering through water.

If you could teleport to any bar right now, which bar would it be and what would you be drinking?

Coles in Chicago. Shot and a beer most def.

Huge shout-out to ____ for ____!

Mom and Dad of course! They don't get nearly enough credit for how much they've supported and encouraged me making wilder and wilder decisions over the years.

Check out more of Kate's artwork here.

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