Although illustrating for children is a relatively new endeavor for artist Kathleen Kinkopf, her work art is just lovely. It’s the combination of grace, color, story, and juxtaposition in her paintings that move me.
OCB: Is there an element of truth to Woodson’s claim as it relates to Visual Artists (or to your work)? If so, how?
Kathleen Kinkopf: This is true for some artists, but I think the majority of my imagery derives from places unknown to me. I am just the messenger. I consider myself a visual storyteller, whether in illustration, fine art, or graphic design. I enjoy creating work that causes a viewer pause, contemplate or step into, and possibly inspire them to reflect on their own story or personal journey in life. I don’t create work for myself, but for someone I have not yet met, whether they are readers, collectors, art lovers, educators, executives, or professionals from all walks of life. That approach, for me, encourages a free flow of unconditional creativity without expectations or limitations.
OCB: What are you painting or creating art for (as in, what is the deep-down driving force behind your choice to paint/illustrate in the first place)? What is it about the act of drawing or painting or illustrating that speaks to you or resonates with you most?
Kathleen: I may have answered this in the first question, but regarding the reason why I paint or create? The short of it—it’s just ‘there’. It’s been there since I can remember. I have made many decisions in my personal and professional life because of my artistic genetic code, which is the underlying (and uncontrollable) current that drives me. As a professional artist, there are many things that motivate me: 1) the innate quest to be prolific yet maintain art excellence consistently, 2) be conscious that I’m only as good as my last piece or group of work, 3) practice the discipline of stepping back with an objective viewpoint of my own work from time to time 4) produce great work, whether illustration, fine art or design and thrive financially so I can continue doing what I do, 5) being incessantly curious.
OCB: What technique/media did you use to create “D Magazine,” and “Dreamworlds 5, 6, 7?”
Kathleen: These are all in acrylic. I worked in pastels for many years, but due to a number of reasons, and because the execution theory is similar, I began working in acrylics about 20 years ago and am currently still working in this medium.
OCB: Since you illustrate books for young readers, did you have a favorite illustration or illustrator when you were young (or now)? If so, why?
Kathleen: Strangely enough, I don’t recall either of my parents reading to me as a child. They were children of immigrants and grew up during the depression. Both also lost their parents when they were young, so survival for the family was priority — having food on the table and a roof over our heads (nothing frivolous like reading books or creating art, for that matter).
That said, many members of our family had creative tendencies in the arts, engineering and music. Had it been a different time, things may have played out differently. I do remember being a book-worm, constantly reading as a child and teen, even through the summer. I did have a horse and remember reading alot of books about horses, although I don’t remember any books of particular authors. I do remember writing my own version of Goldilocks and the 3 bears as a young child and would give anything to have a copy of that. I have a clear recollection of putting the pages in the typewriter and illustrating each scene in my own interpretation. While there are many authors and illustrators (too numerous to list) I greatly admire in the current marketplace, I have admired Chris Van Allsburg for many years (one of many influences for my work), as an author-illustrator, due to his vibrant imagination and his engaging, visual storytelling style.
OCB: Although you haven’t necessarily created art specific for young readers to date, what is it about the possibility of doing so that speaks to you (if there is anything about it that appeals to you, aside from being a potential source of income)?
Kathleen: I love the imagination and stories of the many illustrators I’ve studied and admired over the years. I feel my work has the potential to complement a number of publishing venues and opportunities. I would enjoy this new challenge for my work. While I’ve been working in commercial illustration for over 20 years, I respectfully observe publishing as a different industry. I’m interested in finding a viewing/reader’s niche where my work can be engaging and tell stories in a unique and powerful way.
As a girl, were their books or illustrations that resonated with you (if so, what ones/why)? If these questions don’t seem relevant, then maybe how do you think you can relate to young people through your art (or in what ways would you like to do so)?
I think my answer to this might be woven into some of my statements above. As far as young readers go, I never underestimate the power and freshness of their imagination. I think they can teach me how to see the world from a fresh perspective. My challenge is to translate this new vision into words and pictures that excite and engage the reader in a fresh and challenging way.