Today we’re joined by Kat. Kat is a fantastic visual artist who specializes in book cover design. They work as a very small graphic design business and most of their clientele is indie authors. They have been in print design for 16 years and designing book covers for 10. According to Kat, “ I also do some fiber arts, and advocate strongly for the rights of the disabled, mentally ill, and indigenous peoples. I have a house full of birds and one adult human child.” It’s very apparent they really enjoy their work. My thanks to them for taking the time to participate in this interview.
Please, tell us about your art.
In the past I worked with print shops and as Art Director for a publisher, but now I work with independent authors who are publishing on Amazon or other similar venues.
Usually my work involves strong hierarchy of information, image collage, client input, and clean typography.
You can see a bunch of the publisher work here http://www.anobii.com/melodicadesign/books
And some other sample stuff at http://melodicadesign.com
What inspires you?
I grew up in the 80s on a semi-rural hobby farm, so I feel the root of my work is in a nature based, or minimalistic Yankee aesthetic. Some might find it boring, but most clients choose to hire me because it’s not fancy in any way.
When working for the publisher, I often visited the blog of David Drummond and Henry Sene Yee. They influenced my covers quite a bit.
Otherwise I find inspiration in the aesthetic of Japanese illustrators like Yoko Tanji and Maruti Bitamin, Mori Girl Tumblr, nature Tumblr — and when all else fails I crack open an old W. W. Norton Publisher catalog I’ve had for ages.
What got you interested in your field? Have you always wanted to be an artist?
When I was in high school I declared I wanted to be an artist, but my parents claimed there was no money in it. This was pre-internets, so really they were kinda right. Still, I took art and photography electives.
In the end, I fell in love, had a baby, got ditched, and decided to go to college for early childhood education. I wanted to be a Montessori teacher so my kid could go to a really good school ‘for free’. Then I changed my major to psychology, and then philosophy.
My daughter was diagnosed with autism in the late 90s, and I had to think more about a career that wouldn’t require more years of school. I chose graphic design, and it was actually really fulfilling. The market was booming at the time, so it seemed like the logical thing to do.
I worked at places like Kinko’s for a long time. I finally got sick of all the corporate culture creep that was happening (design work outsourced, uniforms, I was basically paid to click print, etc.), and after a few months of sweet, sweet unemployment, walked into a new place up the road that read “Revolution Booksellers” – I thought, “Oh hey! I’ve always wanted to work at a bookstore!” – turns out they were a distribution and sales company for the publisher in the same building whose sign just hadn’t been made yet. I was basically hired on the spot to design books. A year later I was Art Director. The company started to collapse after the economic crash of 2008, and was gone by 2010.
It’s a shame you can’t do that anymore. So many qualified people’s resumes just go into the digital circular file. At least back in the day, when you went into a place to give your resume, you could make an impression on the staff with dress or friendliness.
Do you have any kind of special or unique signature, symbol, or feature you include in your work that you’d be willing to reveal?
I can’t say that I really do sneak anything in. I guess what I do sneak in is as many free images as I can from free stock sites and stuff. I download a bunch of stuff from Creative Market on their weekly free page. I’m kind of awful like that. I’m a Yankee. ):
What advice would you give young aspiring artists?
The indie author marketplace is booming right now, and oddly enough Etsy has given me like 75% of my new clients– so if you have photoshop and a decent grasp of type and image hierarchy, resolution, and can follow specs, you can do this work.
This will probably offend, but in my experience… don’t work with “horse people” (authors who own horses and write about horses) — unless you enjoy micro-management, constant revisions, and flip flopping – only to be blown off for someone cheaper when the project is 90% done (you will later be contacted and asked questions about why the cheaper quality is worse than yours). I’m just sayin’… in my extensive animal book making experience.
“Dog people” are hands down the best clients to work for. They’re just like “Do whatever! I know it’ll be amazing, I trust you!” and then they’re amazed with their book about dogs, and will send you thank you cards and maybe treats.
Where on the spectrum do you identify?
After looking at your newfangled spectrums I’m gonna go with panromantic grey ace. To be honest I don’t think about my orientations all that much. I think at my age you don’t put as much importance as to where you fit in a certain area of society or group. This might be the root to some young people feeling blown off by otherwise understanding parents.
What I do know is I just don’t find people ‘attractive’ – like I joined the app ‘whisper’ recently and the amount of sexual thirst in my immediate area is amazing. Sex is just not on my mind like at all, I walk into a crowd of people and I just see all kinds of people. There aren’t really any people I want to bang, there’s no one that I’m undressing with my eyes. I honestly can’t say I’ve ever even been able to undress someone with my eyes.
I’m sex positive, and obviously have had a child, so there was quite a bit of sex when I was younger, usually partner initiated. I’ve been without a partner for 10 years now, and that’s OK too.
I was raised by an abusive parent who was sex repulsed, so I’m still always surprised when ace kids say their parents are disappointed that they’re ace. Like, when I was growing up, you didn’t want your kids fucking anything anywhere. If a kid said ‘I don’t feel attracted to anyone, so I guess I’m not doing the sex thing’, parents of my childhood (boomers) would have been singing hallelujah. But times change, man — and my family was not functional.
Have you encountered any kind of ace prejudice or ignorance in your field? If so, how do you handle it?
Not really, but there is a certain feeling of being left out of any adult situation when you don’t feel the same urge or whatever-it-is that other adults do.
There’s either a perceived innocence, or a hyper-vigilance in social situations. You either completely miss the meaning of the sentence “Yeah I work at the local college, and man, the scenery is great.” (I replied that I love the landscaping at colleges, it’s so clean), or you have to work overtime in your head to parse what they’re really saying: “I work at a college and want to do every girl on campus, they’re all so sexy looking” – then do you concur, look at them funny, or be a drag and look repulsed?
I once described it as being at the Thanksgiving kids table forever.
Professionally… it’s sort of like, in corporate culture, even though there are laws now about sexual stuff in the work place… it’s still all very driven by sexuality and relationships between people. Like it’s the most basic drive to succeed that we don’t really acknowledge all that much. So when you don’t experience that basic drive, you might not aim as high, or you might get overlooked for someone more ‘driven’.
What’s the most common misconception about asexuality that you’ve encountered?
That it’s a symptom of mental illness or psychiatric drugs, or that an asexual can’t enjoy erotica or other stimulating stuff.
What advice would you give to any asexual individuals out there who might be struggling with their orientation?
I guess I’m still struggling here and there with it. All my friends know via Facebook, and I post about it so they’re aware and can read more if they want to.
I think that as you age, you get more comfortable with who you are (hopefully), and become more and more ok with your orientation. I’m really not in contact with family, so I can’t really give any advice on talking to relatives/family about it.
Finally, where can people find out more about your work?
I’m available through Etsy http://melodicadesign.etsy.com
And my website http://melodicadesign.com
An older collection of books http://www.anobii.com/melodicadesign/books
You can reach me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you, Kat, for participating in this interview and this project. It’s very much appreciated.