As part of my Artist of the Month series, last week I caught up with native Houstonian and local badass artist Katherine Mason. At just 25 years old, Katherine is an enigmatic artist to say the least. Her work ranges from picturesque realism to multi media abstraction, with definite roots in pop culture. A lady after my own heart, Katherine is also a philanthropic creative. Her latest "Lipstick" series is a crowd sourced project using lipsticks donated from all over the country,with sales benefiting the National Breast Cancer Organization. If that's not enough to make you love this girl, just wait until you see her work!
How long have you been creating art?
Ever since I can remember. My parents always told me that I would make a mess with just about anything I could get my hands on and over the years my mess just started to make more sense.
What's your background? Are you a trained artist?
I consider myself a trained, yet self-taught artist. I have had basic training over my years in school but I never went to a swanky Art Institute. I took what I learned and spent years developing my skill set and pushing my creative as well as technical boundaries.
I think to be a real artist you have to put in the time and effort to “teach” yourself. If you’re only willing to be taught be someone else then I believe it blurs the boundaries of your art being a product of you vs. a product of your professors.
How would you describe your style?
I’m a bit different from other artists in the sense that I’ve never really had a defined “style”. I think it’s hard for me to take my creative mind and force it into a singular approach. My brain has an interesting way of interpreting and decoding the world around me and applying that to my practice, so I try not to constrain it in any way.
However, I do have some Series that I’m building where I try to stay consistent between pieces. Then again, if you were to look at the different Series I’ve built, I’m confident that you wouldn’t be able to guess that they were done by the same artist.
What inspires you?
Hahah what doesn’t inspire me?! I think this world is full amazing things that can inspire all of us, and in our own unique ways, but we just have to be willing to see it.
Who or what are your biggest influences?
Aside from my work, my biggest influence is God, the best Artist of them all. I’ve always loved getting lost in the details of things, things that you would never notice.
Whether that’s realizing that the tip of my dogs nose is composed of tiny, intricate shapes that fit together perfectly, the countless colors in a single Fall leaf or even how theatrical milk churns and dances through a cup of coffee. Everywhere I look, there’s something amazing that I haven’t quite seen before.
That’s probably the most hippie thing I’ve ever tried to explain hahah but in all honesty, I TRULY believe that God created the most breathtaking and awe-inspiring world and yet very few people take the time to notice it.
I hope that I could, for just a second, capture people with my art long enough to show them the beauty in the details, like God has done for me.
What is it like being an emerging artist in Houston?
Being an emerging artist in Houston is very difficult but in reality, being an emerging artist anywhere is difficult! I think Houston is slowly starting to embrace a more artistic and creative culture but it falls behind in comparison to LA, Austin, New York, etc. where creative minds really flourish. It’s definitely difficult as a Houston based artist, not only to find opportunities to network and showcase your art, but to have your work met with an open minded and receptive audience as well. However, I like to look at it as the perfect opportunity to be one of the few artists that get to really shape and transform this city.
What are some of your greatest achievements in terms of your work? What are you most proud of?
I wouldn’t say that I’ve “achieved” anything spectacular with my work, however I am quite excited about my new Lipstick Painting Series.
This series is the first time I’ve been able to really combine my two passions, Art and Philanthropy.
Each painting in my Lipstick Series will be done with donated lipsticks from women from all over the country, and within each piece I hope to capture the beauty of all women. I’m hoping by the time the series is completed and sold that I will be able to give back a substantial donation to the National Breast Cancer Organization, furthering Cancer research and family support.
Where do you hope your career will take you?
I hope that my career will take me to a place where I can express myself, support myself and inspire others to do the same. I think there are way too many talented artists out there who are afraid to rely on their talents and get stuck in a monotonous 9 to 5.
All too often great artists are settling to being told what to create in order to make money, and that truly saddens me
If you’re lucky enough to find a job you love that allows you to utilize and challenge your creativity then you’ve already won. I truly believe if you have a passion for art, and you’ve put the time and effort in to develop your talent, then you should never allow yourself to be confined to the creative regulations of someone else. It’s like forcing a world-renowned chef to work a concession stand at Six Flags.
Do you feel that there is a conflict between art and design in your work?
Personally I don’t think I’ve had a conflict between the two. Some days I want to create a piece that’s very organic and reflects what’s going on with me at that point in time, whereas other days I love incorporating the more structured and consistent qualities of design. It really depends on what type of artist you are, but I believe that when you learn how to incorporate and balance, both the artistic and design aspects, then you’ll have yourself some great work.
Do you think that it is possible for art to be functional? (I.e. is art that is wearable or useful in some way actually art in your opinion?)
Art is very versatile to me. Of course you have the obvious visual art, whether that be paintings, drawings, etc. but in my opinion, anything that is created through the utilization of creativity is Art. A car engine, your smart phone, a luxury handbag, even your favorite tacos down the street, these all have their own functions of course but they’re works of art. Mechanics, Designers, Engineers, Chefs are all artists in their own ways. They work with different subject matter but they all have to go through similar creative process when building their masterpieces.
Do you think that technology/internet etc has helped or hindered you as an emerging artist?
It has DEFINITELY helped me. I don’t know how artists, or anyone for that matter, ever got noticed before the Internet! I’ve always found it to be such an amazing tool. Whether I’m connecting with other artists, releasing new images of my work, advertising my next showcases, selling work online or even interviewing with bloggers like yourself, the Internet has given me a platform to show the world what I can do. Technology holds countless opportunities for artists but the beauty is that you can utilize it as much or as little as you want