Friday, April 1, 2011

Kate Johnson - Painter

And You Thought We Were Too Fat To Fly


Kate Johnson
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Facebook Kate Johnson’s Art

Kate Johnson is a young contemporary artist who specializes in acrylic paintings of humanized animals and objects to explore storytelling and character development.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
My work is oversized paintings with acrylic and marker. I use themes of food, objects, and animals and humanize them with stylistic eyes that I consistently utilize in my work. I have also begun working with humans in my pieces. I have done larger mural like triptychs and I do a lot of two piece series paintings.

I am a versatile and multi-disciplined artist, I also focus on anatomical life drawings, handmade and hand-bound books, and pop culture shrunken plastic jewelry. I sell my books at I Like You, the artist consignment shop in Northeast Minneapolis, as well as on Etsy at I constantly have multiple projects going at once but each medium I work with is completely different from each other and has a unique style.

What Color is My Tongue?

“What is Art?” is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but that do you hope your audience takes away from you art? What statement do you hope to make?
I am currently building on this body of painting by focusing on character development and storytelling. I write quirky and witty titles to accompany each piece which creates a dialogue between my viewers and the characters in my paintings. I hope that my audience takes the time to read the titles, it’s a simple yet powerful tool which communicates the personality of the characters I create. Its about the character and personality I design as much as the actual fine work that I paint. I hope that my work portrays my sense of humor, and brings laughter and enjoyment to my viewers of all ages.

What was the best advice given to you as an artist?
The best advice was from my mom. “There is such incredible potential inside of your heart and soul, enjoy this time and those who love you. Enjoy every minute of it.”

It’s important to remember to enjoy every second of my career and to thank those who have and continue to support me along the way. Art is my passion and for that I am blessed to be pursuing a career that I love.

I’m So Sweet, I Could Eat Myself

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
I live and work in the same space, and while it can be pretty tight at times, I am able to work at anytime of the day. I really like to begin working late at night around 10 pm.

I always carry a sketchbook with me, and consistently doodle, take notes, and read. I get inspired all the time from my environment, other artists, and books. I oftentimes write the title of the piece before I even begin painting and it serves as my guide for how I want the piece to develop. I am very conscious of color schemes and symbolism with my repetitive use of bows and hearts. Once I have a character sketched and ready to be painted, I like to enlarge my drawing right on the canvas.

People are oftentimes most curious about my order of process. I begin with the background and continue with the character. My last step is the marker around the edge which is all done by free hand, even the circular eyes. On average a basic 30”X40” painting takes about ten hours from start to finish.

Suction Cup Me Baby!

This January you joined Altered Esthetics’ board as the first Solo Exhibitions Director. Can you tell me about the program?
I designed and created the new Solo Exhibitions Program last year during my internship as an Assistant Gallery Director. This past January, I began working with ten Minnesotan artists who were chosen by AE’s Exhibition Committee. I help teach this small group of emerging artists the business aspects of being an artist through monthly career development meetings which I design and teach myself. I also assist them with implementing a solo exhibition with one of the gallery’s partnering hosts.

This year we have ten solo exhibitions planned in our host’s spaces which include Maude Salon(, Bicycle Theory (, Spring Street Tavern (, and Sweeney Todd’s Hair Salon ( In the future, I hope to further develop this program, meet and help teach as many artists as posible, and increase the impact of arts in the local community. This program is specifically created to grow and change as the needs of artists changes so there will be new and exciting changes for next years artists already.

The call to artists to participate in the 2012 season begins May 1st until June 3ost 2011. Check out Altered Esthetics’ website ( for further information or shoot me an email at

Silly Clouds, Colors are for Rainbows I II and III

You were recently accepted in to Prairie Center of the Arts Residency Program. What do you plan to accomplish during your residency?
This spring, I was accepted into an artist residency program and will be heading to Peoria, IL to the Prairie Center of the Arts. I will be living there and have access to studio space for six weeks of non-stop painting. I will be developing and building upon my current body of paintings. My pre-residency project is beginning a blog which I will post and update everyday while I am out of state. The link to the blog will be on my website once it’s finished, but the blog will be a window into my work habits, artistic processes, and will showcase all of the new pieces I am making. There will be lots of updates and photographs, so check it out!

Sweetie, I Ache For You

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?

Local stained glass artist Jim Frederick
Fine aerosol artist Jawsh
Teresa Cox
Happy Accidents

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I am a temporary worker at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, so you will definitely find me there. My favorite pieces in the museum are the period rooms up on the third floor. You can also frequently find me at Altered Esthetics in Northeast Minneapolis in the Q.arma building. Whether I’m there for a board meeting, art opening or teaching the Solo Exhibitions Program, I’m there on a weekly basis. I am also a volunteer museum receptionist at the American Swedish Institute and I enjoy the art exhibitions that the Institute hosts there. During the spring and summer, my family and I really enjoy all of the outdoor art festivals that Minnesota offers such as the St Paul Art Crawl and the Uptown Art Fair. I have also been attending Springboard for the Arts’ workshops all winter and you could maybe spot me there some evening.

Do Not Touch the Dust Bunny
Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artists, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?
Here are a few good web tools, websites, and a good book and video that I recommend:

Internet for Artists Wiki:
MRAC Free Training Events (mostly for non-profits but good for artists too):
Time Management Blog:
Good Articles for Artists:
National Exhibition Opportunities:
Email Processing and Management Video:
Books: The Artists Way by Julia Cameron

What can we expece to see from you in the future?
2011 has been a very busy year. I’ve been in seven exhibitions this year already and currently have work heading to an exhibition in New York and new piece in the staff art show at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. This past February, I had my largest show, Two Perspectives, which featured nine of my paintings at the Coffman Art Gallery. The show focused on two artists, one being myself, who use different styles and media to depict animal themes in art. I hope to continue to exhibit my work around Minnesota as well as throughout the States.

I am also working on a music art and video collaboration with a music producer and friend Crza (Chris Taing) and Essential Sessions Studio. While it’s still in the beginning stages, he is writing beats to accompany my paintings alongside a view into my studio and work habits with video footage and interview.

Kate Johnson

No comments: