I have long been a fan of a local Chicago artist named Katherine Corden–I started following her on Instagram last year, and have been in love with her work ever since! Katherine paints beautifully and has an amazing, engaged social following–one that she has built through her genuine personality and gorgeous artwork. Keep reading for a discount code AND a giveaway!
Funny story: a few weeks ago, I was brainstorming post ideas and wrote down “interview Katherine Corden?” but hadn’t yet put that plan into motion. Shortly after that, Katherine messaged me on Instagram asking if I’d like to partner up on a blog post! It felt like fate, and I’m very excited to introduce you all to her. I’m also super excited about her newest series, titled “Gather”! Without further ado…
Tell me about your brand new Gather series!
The “Gather” series portrays family and friends in casual environments. Good conversations and lots of laughs – where anxieties and fears are either consoled or forgotten. The good times that you want to really be present and soak it all in because you know time goes too fast… to quote John Mayer, “by the time we recognize this moment, this moment will be gone.”
For a while I felt pressure to paint a meaningful subject that appealed to my potential clients. When I came to my parents and Dave frustrated with finding a subject, they said “just paint what you want Katherine. As long as you like what you’re painting that’s all that matters.” I started taking pictures of my friends and family because I liked those moments and over time I’ve started to discover my “why”.
Many of the scenes feature friends and family hanging out in Chicago or my family’s place in Northern Michigan. I’ve always been a “summer girl” so you’ll notice I spend a lot of time at the beach. The palette is more soothing than my past works. I’m using more muted and neutral colors. I still love capturing the light and shadow contrast in my subjects, I think it really brings the painting to life and creates something more visually interesting for your eye to travel around.
If you want to learn more about my Gather series, I wrote a blog post about it here.
Katherine’s Gather series is launching on Friday, November 17th!
How did you turn your hobby into a business?
I started an Instagram account last April, and started a Squarespace website last July. My first collectors were obviously my friends and family, and then it slowly started spreading by word of mouth and through social media. I remember the feeling I had the first time a stranger wanted to buy my work – pretty unreal!
Don’t be fooled – I spend tons of time working on my business. I take advantage of free podcasts and blog resources. I invested in some continuing education, including paid social media courses. Jenna Kutcher is an awesome online creative educator if you’re looking for a good person to check out.
Finally, to really be “too legit to quit” I registered my business with the state of Illinois as a sole proprietor. I just hired my first accountant, and I opened up a separate checking account and credit card to keep my finances organized.
You work as an inpatient physical therapist… how do you balance both that and a business?
It’s not easy! I have several strategies I try to implement, and “try” should be emphasized.
First, if something is not aligned with my goals and current circumstances, I say no and move on. Saying “no” to one thing means I have room to say “yes” to something else down the road that better suits my business goals. When you have limited time on your hands (like I do with a full time job) this is critical to growing your business!
Second, I have been batch working, which means I try to separate out my tasks by days or in chunks of hours. One day I will only do computer work (emails, invoices, accounting), one day I’ll package and ship orders, one day I’ll try to just paint my own work, and one day I’ll focus on commissions. This is definitely a work in progress but when I am diligent I can see the difference!
Third, I give myself grace to take a break. My fiancé and I just moved in together and we value spending quality time together. You may notice a theme forming… I’m always working on “being present”.
How would you spend the perfect day in Lincoln Park?
This may sound crazy, so bear with me. An ideal day would be waking up early on the weekend to bike to the lakeshore path and watch the sunrise with Dave (we just did this and had SO much fun, it’s a great way to take advantage of living on the west side of Lake Michigan).
Then, we would go to our favorite coffee shop La Colombe on Armitage. We love the coffee here and they don’t have wifi or outlets. They emphasize the importance of catching up with a friend and taking your time to sip coffee and be present in the moment.
On our way home we walk past Chicago Bagel Authority and usually grab some bagel sandwiches and chips to go. My favorite is the “Clayboy”.
After being caffeinated and full of CBA, I’d start painting back at our apartment. We don’t have a TV so Dave might be hanging out in the background practicing his guitar or playing some music on his record player for us.
For dinner, a perfect day would be packing up a picnic, taking it to Oz Park and sitting on the hill with friends while watching a local little league game. Followed by a stop at Annette’s for Italian Ice before going home of course. In the winter, we love to hit up Kincaid’s for trivia nights with friends too.
What’s the first thing you want to know about someone who commissions work from you? Also, how does that process work?
My clients reach out to me through my contact page and we start discussing what they would like painted and the size they are looking for. They often have a photo in mind, and I recommend using photos with good light and shadow contrast – they translate best to a painting. I then ask them if they are drawn to any of my previous works or have certain colors in mind so I can get an idea of the style and mood they are looking for. I often will ask for photos of the room they are planning to put the painting in as well so that I can make sure the art will complement their home.
Once we have decided on these details, my clients pay me a 50% non-refundable deposit I use to start the commission. From there, I usually estimate 6-8 weeks until completion to give myself lots of wiggle room. That way, if I finish early it’s a bonus!
I am continually accepting commissions that are 18×24 or larger and am also always working with interior designers. However, for my typical clients that want smaller size paintings starting at 12×12, I only book 1-2 commissions a month and those slots fill up quick! So don’t hesitate to reach out.
What is one thing people don’t know about you?
I took 4 years of ceramics in high school. I wasn’t a big fan of the drawing and painting instructor, but the ceramics teacher was the bomb.com. I spent every free moment I had in that studio.
What advice would you give to a budding artist?
It’s okay to grow slow! And since I’m a budding artist, I tell this to myself daily. Dave always reminds me that some businesses fail if they grow too fast. I need to remember that God is in control and giving me just what I need right now for a reason.
What’s your goal for 2018, both personally and professionally?
Get married! That’s going to happen for sure though. Right now I’m working with my friend Kelly Etz on re-branding and updating my website. My goal is to focus my brand to better reflect my values, personality and style. I’m starting to feel like I’m falling into a groove with my painting style, and it feels so satisfying and comfy. I want my brand to express that.
What do you do when you get artist’s block?
Sweat it out. As a physical therapist, I really value the importance of physical activity – our bodies are so incredible, the ability to exercise is a privilege! My favorite workouts include running, Pure Barre, rock climbing, and occasionally soccer with my friends. This always helps to clear my mind. Traveling never fails to inspire me either, but working out is much more accessible.
Who are some other artists you admire?
One artist that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind lately is Sarah Petit – a girl who was a couple grades ahead of me in high school. We used to take ceramics together and she now has her own ceramics and textile shop. She lives in Detroit. Her and I have talked about doing some sort of art trade. I want everything in her shop – I want one of her purses, some coffee mugs, and planters… soon! Check her out!
From now until November 30th, 2017, Katherine Corden is giving Love Always, Audrey readers 15% off of anything in her store! Just use code LOVEAUDREY15 on her website!
To enter for a chance to win a print of your choice from Katherine, follow the steps in the giveaway module below. Giveaway ends November 3rd at midnight. Good luck!