Katie DePreker is a writer and artist living in Seattle, Washington. Her fashion is fierce and her artwork, which is easy to make a daily obsession of via Instagram, is evocative. Using digital manipulation as well as good old-fashioned paint, ink and angst, she creates images that capture the electricity and the spirit of the 90s, the symbolic depth of inked art and the iconoclasm of religion.
We caught up with Katie recently to learn a little bit more about what inspires her artwork and her methods.
Tell us about your backstory.
Everyone loves a juicy back story, but I can’t say mine is terribly exciting. It begins in the Pacific Northwest, where I’ve resided my whole life—entirely too long to be in one place! I hope it doesn’t end here.
Being from a large Catholic Filipino family came with a high attendance to funerals, so before elementary age I’d amassed a collection of mass cards. Death, symbols and visual narratives like the ones I saw at the mortuary definitely impacted my artistic aspirations, but so did visits to museums, galleries and other goings-on in the city with my dad. After my parents split, he’d bring me into Seattle or Vancouver for the Solstice or local art exhibits. Sometimes the artists and curators were present, so I could pick their brains on what their processes were, and why.
This was given I wasn’t feeling painfully shy or on a side-mission to shop for trashy clothes (my favorite!) and cosmetics—also a huge source of creative inspiration that led me through beauty school.
Can you tell me a little bit about your art education? Where did you go to school and what did you study?
I got coerced into attending community college immediately after high school and struggled with everything about it, except for going to Professor Cindy Small’s drawing classes. She was secretly my career idol. If I were smart, I would’ve asked her how to become an art professor and built a plan. I wasn’t smart and didn’t know I graduated til Dad dug my degree out of the mail a few summers later.
I put myself through university and left with a BFA in oil painting years later, but having such a strong foundation from drawing, art history and cosmetology gifted me the confidence to put my work in front of curators in the meantime. This led to getting shows, and ultimately, sales.
What do you do now, and what projects are you working on putting together in the future?
Nowadays, I pick up commissions and sell original work online. There’s people in the world with my images tattooed on to themselves thanks to Facebook and Snapchat. Instagram and Twitch I’ve never had any luck with in terms of sales, but it’s a free and convenient way to give a look at what I’ve done and the direction I’m heading. And I’ve met and kept in touch with a few artists on there. We root for each other and it feels good to have that community, like having a shared studio. In the future, I’m hoping to finish a few cohesive bodies of work and try the gallery system again.
What is your personal philosophy, and how—if at all—is it reflected in your artwork? What artists are you influenced by, and what would you say your work is characterized by?
Personal philosophy isn’t something I had the freedom to openly express until very recently, though painting and drawing offer a safe, open space to explore new ideas and play with different techniques. It all depends on what’s inspiring me at the moment. I think it’s important for people to remember that visual representations of ideas can be highly individualized and change with time, so not everything is a deep philosophical study—or maybe it is.
My favorite artists are usually people whose lives interest me, where there appears to be an intersection between their selves and the work they produce. It helps me to empathize. I really like layered, abstract images that are anchored in reality with at least the hint of a concrete figure to pull me into it. Faces and nudes tend to be a huge point of focus because of the multitude of feelings they express. I think my work is a blend of all of the above with plenty of experimentation thrown in.
What mediums do you use most often and what about these draw you in?
Everything! Everything.The cheapest ones? I use what’s available and have never been in such a secure place I could pick out choice materials. I learned Photoshop with an old bootleg, and it was then that I realized working digitally offers the ability to save, start over and mass-produce work in ways not possible otherwise. Which I enjoy! But I have a passion for getting my hands dirty with paints and ink. Painting is a physical process: you get up, splash colors around, walk away, look back, pace the studio.
Can you list the ways that our readers can keep track of you?
Sure! I keep an Instagram open @_moth_to_the_flame_. This is where I post past and current work, keep in touch with other artists and show people where I’ll be.