DESIGNER PROFILE – KATIE SIMMONviews: 0
What should everyone know about you?
KS: I’m a graphic designer with over 10 years of experience making art professionally with 2 years in sublimated apparel design.
How would you describe what you do?
KS: I start by slowly and methodically planning out each step and… Yeah no. I just open a blank artboard and rub my personality all over Illustrator in an aesthetically pleasing way. Luckily, it seems to have been working out so far.
Why did you choose to be a designer?
KS: I didn’t choose to be one so much as I just never was anything else. There was never a time I wasn’t an artist. I’ve been drawing and painting and making things since I can remember. I’ve always needed to make things and I needed to find a job that would let me do that. It just seemed the natural thing to do.
What steps did you take to become a designer?
KS: I just never stopped making things. When I was little I’d make these creatures out of old socks and beanbags and pom poms and whatever other random things were around my house.
If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
KS: I’d be a beekeeper. I know it’s weird to say “I want to keep bees” to people, but they’re totally awesome.
What do you like about what you do?
KS: Aside from getting to do my favorite things everyday – making art and playing with Illustrator, I get to see my artwork being worn by all kinds of people. I’ve also gotten opportunities to design for Cirque du Soleil, Under Armour and some other really great people. Currently I work for GK Elite which makes gymnastics apparel and it’s exciting right now to be involved with outfitting the US team. There’s an ad for the Olympics running right now with the women’s team, so I get to see my artwork on tv. Which is cool as hell.
What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
KS: There’s this thought that artists are just born with a sort of magical talent that doesn’t require work or learning or dedication. I’m constantly learning and constantly working to improve my art.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
KS: I’d love to be a creative director. I really enjoy working with my team – educating, elevating everyone’s skill level and seeing them progress in their skills and confidence is honestly way more rewarding than I ever thought. Years ago I would read things like this where people said that helping others succeed was more rewarding than succeeding themselves and I admit that I was skeptical about that. But it turns out that it’s actually a thing. Huh.
What sparked your interest in design?
KS: I got interested in apparel design while I was in college. I was a fine arts major with a concentration in oil painting and though I loved painting I’d stand in the gallery and look at my work and… it was all just hanging there. I mean, you buy a picture, you hang it on your wall and what? Look at it? It seemed wrong to me at the time that everything was so still. So passive. I’m not a terribly passive person and it bothered me that nothing was moving. So I went out and looked for a job that would allow my artwork to move. Clothing! It was that or painting bro flames on cars to make them go faster.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
KS: I’m always looking at insects – their structures, their eyes, the different way pollen clumps on bees. I take insect aesthetics and translate them to apparel design. I get a lot of my inspiration from science and nature – both plant cells and alcohol look awesome under a microscope.
I also look to my synaesthesia. Synaesthesia is when 2 senses get smushed together because of weird crosswiring in the brain. So some people can taste colors or hear flavors – I can see sounds. All sounds have color and some sounds, like music or rain, are really beautiful. I’ve made garments out of my friends’ voices and my favorite bands. Abney Park and Korpiklaani translate particularly well.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
KS: Just that you never know what’s going to be useful. So I don’t discount interest or inspiration even if you don’t think it’s relevant at the time.
What advice would you give to young designers?
KS: Never stop making things. Anything you want, even if you don’t think it’ll be useful or worth something. I dye yarn and crochet little stuffed animals, upcycle old teapots and illustrate trashy comics. I’ve discovered so much in places and things I never would have thought. You never know what’s going to help you later and you never what knowledge you can apply in different contexts.
What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
KS: To learn new things about the world, to teach others, and to watch a lot of Game Grumps.
Other (feel free to tell the readers anything about you that we didn’t ask)
KS: I like steampunk and really weird music.
Katie has a tendency to rub her personality all over her artwork (I mean, unless you don’t want it there, but seriously why wouldn’t you?) She’s colorful, whimsical, and a friendly, talented sort of strange. She likes everything from clean minimalism to a textured mishmash full of depth and crazy and makes her art the way she makes her life: very little pretension, a smattering of strange, and a lot of joy.
Learn more at: styleportfolios.com/KatieSimmon