Spotlight on Artist Katherine Corden
I believe we all have someone we follow on social media who always exudes positivity. I am happy to say that I follow many people like this and one of my favorites is Katherine Corden. This talented 25-year-old artist first caught my attention when I saw one of her colorful scenic paintings. I followed her instantly and was happy to see that Corden is also a talented calligraphy artist and a seemingly awesome person. Yes, I understand it's hard to guess someone's personality through Instagram but I want you to visit Corden's Instagram account and you will see what I see. Corden recently debuted a breathtaking collection of paintings that feature various, colorful female silhouettes. The timing of this collection couldn't have been more perfect. I am a fan of anyone that reminds women of their beauty and strength and the work of does that perfectly. I'm excited to share this interview with a beautiful woman, whose theme is "Joy" (seriously, nothing is more precious that that).
What sparked your interest in art and calligraphy?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t in love with art. My mom teaches art and has her BFA degree. My dad is also extremely creative and though he practices law professionally, he possesses a brilliant imagination. His hobbies consist of woodworking, interior design, fly fishing, hockey, ice climbing, and travel – how’s that for well rounded!? Growing up in our house there was always an ongoing project with two parents who loved make-believe as much as their kids. They drew aliens with us, helped us build new cities with our blocks, encouraged us to participate in art contests, and whenever we traveled always gave us a new journal or sketchbook to document our thoughts or inspirations. As we grew older, I loved helping my parents with their “adult” projects, and my love for art expanded to include interior design, architecture, and fashion.
Outside of my home, I sought out any opportunity I could to apply my creativity – drawing, painting, ceramics, weaving, sand castle building at my Michigan cottage, even graphic design for a brief time. However, drawing and painting came most naturally to me and was the channel I found most expressive of the constant blur of ideas running through my mind. It will always be what I return to as my preferred outlet.
In my core classes I loved making my note pages as beautiful as possible (here is where lettering and calligraphy come in.) To my friends reading – this is why I’m no use at trivia night during the history questions – sorry! My mom lettered her own wedding invitations and I knew I wanted to learn the skill eventually just to have in my back pocket.
Are you self-taught?
Aside from what I’ve learned from my parents, I always maxed out the art classes I could fit into my schedule when I was in school. Several years ago I took a free 45-minute intro to calligraphy webinar and fell in love with it. Other than that, I just continue to paint and write – it’s the best way to practice!
Do you remember the point in life when you realized you wanted to make a living as an artist?
I actually recently graduated from Northwestern and am now practicing as a full-time physical therapist. As a senior in high school, I struggled with the choice to attend college for art or academics. I decided I would keep my creativity sacred and not put the pressure on it to support myself. I chose to pursue Physical Therapy, another interest of mine, and have continued to create in my free time.
What inspires you?
I’m easily inspired by nature, colors, unique architecture, light play, and cultural diversity.
Most recently, I’ve found my inspiration in the female figure. I love the challenge of capturing light and shadows while playing with color combinations. There are no outlines in our world – just reflections of light and darkness, and seeing the beautiful and dynamic female figure come to life while finding that balance is very exciting. As a young, female professional in today’s world, I found this series very empowering. I choose to paint poses that exude confidence and colors that invite people to explore the complexity and depth of the woman – much like our modern day women. The human body is truly incredible – I may not have appreciated it to its full extent until I completed my human anatomy lab during graduate school. The complexity is never ending and I believe it is something that humans will continue to investigate until the end of time.
What is your artistic process?
For my paintings, I usually work from a photograph and pull it up on my computer to enlarge it. Then I start sketching with pencil on a birch wood panel, which is my preferred canvas. I’ll start painting next, continuing to refer to the photo on my computer. I really like to change the original colors from my photos and use my own color combinations, so I may also have a color palette pulled up for guidance.
Is there a theme to your work?
Joy. I’m a pretty happy person – I like to think I have an enormous capacity for happiness. I try to let that come through in my paintings.
Has your style evolved over time?
Definitely! I think it has become looser. I’m starting to feel more freedom with my brush strokes and incorporating more of an abstract style.
What is the most challenging part of being an artist?
Making time for it outside of my full-time job and personal life. I think balance is something everyone is searching for but once you find it, it’s not like “oh, I found the balance I’m good now!” No. You have to constantly work at it. Some days are more balanced than others, and that’s O.K.
What is your favorite aspect of running your business?
Creating and collaborating. I could talk about art all day every day, so when I meet other people who are equally into it, I instantly want to be friends with them. It also has let me grow deeper relationships with my friends who also pursue creativity either on the side or full time.
How do you stay motivated when you experience a creative rut?
Working out or running! That’s the physical therapist in me. I’ve run three marathons including Boston, but lately, I’ve been really into Pure Barre. My boyfriend and I also just started rock climbing, which is my latest challenge.
Where do you see your business going?
Good question! Right now I feel very blessed and grateful that I’ve been able to continue to do what I love on the side. I really would like to donate a percentage of my profits to a charity I am passionate about. I’m in the process of researching local causes that align with my personal values.
Do you have any other creative outlets?
I love trying new recipes and cooking with my family and friends. Plus at the end, you get to enjoy a good meal with people you love – not much beats that!
What is your ultimate goal with your artwork?
First and foremost, I make artwork that I like. The fact that other people also enjoy looking at it is just icing on the cake! I love interior design – my apartment is covered with my art (I have the best roommate – she just lets me go crazy…) so I try to create art that I would like to put up in my own home – something that ignites joy and inspiration.
Any last words?
A lot of people have come up to me and said things like “I’m so impressed with your artwork, I wish I was creative.” To those who feel that way – just know creativity comes in lots of different forms – and it doesn’t have to be perfect! In fact, the imperfections often are more interesting and give things character. I believe letting your creativity and inspirations loose is so therapeutic – even if what comes out is ridiculously imperfect – nobody cares except you! We are all our biggest critics. Once you realize this and don’t care what others think, you can really bring your ideas to life. The whole point for me is to have fun. That’s what I always have to remind myself – as long as I’m having fun, it’s worth it.