Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Kate Renee - Painter

Kate Renee

Kate Renee
Minneapolis, MN

Facebook page:
Twitter: @KateReneesArt
Etsy Page:

My name is Kate Renee and I am a professional acrylic painter working out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. My work is brightly colored lowbrow character paintings on birch wood panels and covered in resin. I paint edgy works with a veneer of cute. They are most recognized by my googily eyes and satirical titles.  

I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BA in Fine Arts, Art History, and a minor in Design. I have worked with various galleries in the Twin Cities including: Altered Esthetics, Larson Art Gallery, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, The American Swedish Institute and the Katherine E. Nash Gallery. During 2013-2014, I am a protégé in the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) Mentor Program and mentored by Jill Waterhouse.

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?

In January 2013, I was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant and I recently completed my Beauties Behaving Badly Series. January and February 2014, I am exhibiting these 12 new works in a solo exhibition with an accompanying catalog at Gamut Gallery. The Beauties Behaving Badly series is a parody and commentary of classic fairytale and literature characters created in a graphic lowbrow style. These paintings challenge the typical role the female character played in their historical protagonist position by challenging society’s expectations. This series uses a visual media to speak about social issues including those found in children’s entertainment, public media, and the portrayal of traditional and non-traditional women’s roles.

What is different from these pieces and my past work is pretty vast. I am using a new substrate for my paintings and have been utilizing birch wood panels for the basis of my work. I still utilize acrylic but now cover the top of the painted surface in 2-4 layers of resin. The resin flattens the image completely and also soaks into the wood to enhance the grain. Because of this absorbent quality, I have been using the wood grain like a color. For example, all of the female figures’ skin tones are wood grain. These works have more developed figure shapes and backgrounds to the pieces than earlier works.

How did you decide to become an artist?

Art has always been a part of my life. I began as an artist at a young age; refusing to eat breakfast until I had finished coloring in my coloring books. I also began to paint at a young age on the tub walls with shaving cream dyed with food coloring. During my childhood, I continued to be creative with craft sales in my front yard (much like a lemonade stand but with art), coloring fuzzy posters and making Perler bead fridge magnets. I reconnected with my desire to be an artist during high school. Some of my high school photography traveled to an exhibition in Izumi, Japan and exhibited at the Minnesota State Capital. I made the decision to pursue a professional arts career in college. After my first semester of school, I transferred colleges and ended up at the University of Minnesota to study art, art history and design. 

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 

I try to live my creative life by a quote by Anthony Bourdain. He said that if you wanted to get ahead you need to work like you are behind. I also parallel that with insights from my mentor who said to make sure you always take care of yourself and to enjoy the process. 

And another bit of advice that I have followed, is to get a lawyer. It’s impossible for artists to navigate the art world without knowing, learning or needing some sort of legal help along the way. There are numerous creative legal firms who can assist you. Lawyers are not as expensive as you think. Springboard for the Arts offers a Legal Clinic for about $20 a couple of times a year and has additional legal services and suggestions too. Most basic phone calls to a firm will be free if you have a few questions. I have even had a free consultation with a lawyer. Check out these firms below for legal help you may need:

Kunkle Law:
Davis Law:
Friedman Iverson Law:

Many artists struggle to find ways to sell their art.  How do you sell your work?  How do you market yourself?

I have learned very quickly to become a shameless promoter. I do a ton of marketing work and create a variety of promotional products to help get my name out there. I think the marketing is just as important as the art; both need to work in tandem. I am always trying new ways to get my name and my work out there. It’s crucial to make yourself as visible and accessible as possible. People do not want to search hard to try to find you or your work; make it easy for them. It’s okay to be out there, to express your individuality and to share what you do. That’s what is going to get people interested in the artwork and essentially make a sale. A little bit of repetition is okay too; just don’t overdo it. Sometimes people need to see things a few times before it catches their eye or before they remember a detail. And make sure that you can manage and update all of your marketing strategies…no use doing 20 different things if you can’t keep up!

Here’s just a quick snapshot of what I do for marketing. 

Multiple Facebook Pages: 
Twitter: @KateReneesArt
WordPress Blog:
Linked In:
Google Plus:
Newsletter Sign Up:
Special Events: RAW shows 
Local Artist Interviews:  Writing artist development articles
LAI interviews:
Personal mailings: Custom address labels with promo content on them, custom thank you cards, custom invitations, blind mailings to friend and family with free promo products
Licensing Art Work:  Checkbook covers and checks 
Custom made freebies: buttons, pens, stickers, Water bottles with custom Kate Renee labels, business cards, Favi cards
Variety of products: T-shirts, prints, paintings, catalog books, calendars
PR: Write my own press releases and mail them out

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy? 
Kara Hendershot:
Amber White:
Jill Waterhouse:
DC Ice:
Michael McGraw:  Blog / Website 

I am also a part of an artist group called the Artaversaries. We exhibit a group show of work based off of the traditional themes of anniversaries. Our first show was artwork with a theme of paper. Our second show will be work related to cotton. It is comprised of: 
The Artaversaries:
Mark Elton:
Marnie Erpestad:
Julia Helen Rice:
Kristy Childress :
Mary Foote:

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I am always taking Arts Management training classes at the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. I have participated in 3 RAW: Natural Born Artists events this past year and will be in another in 2014. I also did my first art fair this past fall and will be partaking in some additional art fairs in the near future. 

I try to be at my studio daily and that is in Northeast Minneapolis in the Marshall Street River Lofts. You can always find me there and my studio is always open to visitors!

My exhibiting has been a bit quieter this past year due to the focus on completing a new series but I have exhibited plenty at Gamut Gallery during 2013 and 2014.

I am also participating in the Women’s Art Resources of Minnesota (WARM) Mentor Intensive Program and I am at many of the WARM events in the community. My mentor is Jill Waterhouse and I have 4 lovely sister protégés: Barbara Bridges, Anne Kleinhenz and Jennifer Palmquist.

I also attend the monthly Artist Way Meet Up at the Northeast Library with Amy Egenberger and Heather Koshiol.  I would recommend any artist to attend the Meet Up!

You would also find me in book stores! I love reading self-help books and artist development books. Here’s my new favorite.

In addition to, where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise? 

The typical sites:

Do you have any exhibits to promote in the near future?
Beauties Behaving Badly 
A solo exhibition by Kate Renee at Gamut Gallery
January 18th – February 22ndOpening: January 18th from 7-11pm
Closing: February 22nd 7-10pm
Attendees will receive a free catalog of the exhibition
Gamut Gallery is located at: 1006 Marquette Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55403
(612) 701-8272 There is a public parking lot diagonal from the gallery or directly across the street below the Hilton Hotel. 
Kate Renee is a fiscal year 2013 recipient of an Artist Initiative grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

Kate Renee

Image List:
1. Alice In Wonderland: I’m Late Too, White Rabbit!
2. Little Bo Peep: I Thought I Lost My Sheep (I Lost My Virginity Instead)
3. The Princess And The Frog: The Princess And The Frogg
4. Tinkerbell: Supersized Thighs
5. Little Miss Muppet: Along Came A Spider
6. Little Red Riding Hood: Who’s Afraid of The Big Bad Wolf