Illustrator of the moment Cat Novak has worked with some heavy weight clients. She’s even worked with E! personality Ali Fedotowsky and right now her celebrity sketches, animations and supermodel illustrations have everybody obsessing over fashion and beauty from a new angle. Even ELLE are liking her Instagram pictures. Cat is a truly talented individual and recently I was privileged enough to interview her (check out the portrait illustration she kindly gave me).
1. You’ve worked with some incredible talent, from BERTA bridal to to E! personalities, even pets. Your website (www.catnovakart.com) is fantastic and an indulgence for any fashion/beauty blogger. With all this brilliant work to display, how did you decide upon the layout of your site?
I can work with an idea and put it on paper – everything is customisable and I want the users to understand this. For me, the minimal layout and navigation encourages the audience to engage and explore the work.
2. When it comes to illustrating, are some things easier to draw than others? How do you start your illustration?
My mother was (and is!) a fantastic artist and always encouraged me to draw. I honestly can’t remember a time at school, indoors, outdoors, etc…when I wasn’t doodling whatever caught my eye. I think sketching people/expressions/fashion was always exciting to explore because of the diverse nature of the content as opposed to, say, a still life. You can only draw so many vases… To quote parents everywhere, anything comes easy with a ton practice, except for drawing the perfect circle – it’s just not gonna happen for me. I do, however, love capturing the surreal.I start with coffee.
3. You have an insane talent, I love your illustrations of Kate Moss and Millie Mackintosh – where do you draw your inspiration?
Thank you! For me, fashion epitomizes the perfect combination of embellishment, texture, and movement – it’s so fun to capture! While I used to mostly flip through magazines, I found that browsing through Instagram has provided me with an endless supply of inspiration.
More recently I’ve been impressed by the creative direction behind and tactile quality of CR Fashion Book. This affection most likely draws from my adoration of Carine Roitfeld who has such an extensive history at Vogue. So for the sake of nostalgia, I’d have to say it’s a tie between the two!
5. Has being an illustrator always been your full time job? If not, when did you decide to make the big break and how did it feel?
I’m part of a wonderful creative team at a branding firm in Chicago by day and by night I focus on illustration. I love taking on new brand identity projects. In so many ways working with a variety of industries and individuals has helped cultivate my personal work that I would feel entirely disconnected if I left the wild world of marketing.
Yes! Typically I’m contacted by friends or family of the bride/groom that are looking for that custom, one-of-a-kind gift for their special day – it’s such a great surprise. I love hearing back from clients. All I need is a photo or two of the subject for reference and whatever else they would like to include in the portrait and it’s a go!
7. The animations that you’ve done are brilliant and look so professional and effortless. Are there particular tools that you like to use (e.g. pencils, paint etc)?
Thank you! I work with my actual illustrations and then usually use Adobe CC to animate.
8. What motivates you to create the illustrations?
Society today relies on brief, engaging visuals to spark interest so I felt it necessary to pursue animation as a day-to-day content creator. As I began to explore animation, it became so much more than engaging a specific audience. For even 15 seconds if I’m able to distract someone from the monotony of their daily commute, lunch break, or perhaps even make them think differently about their surroundings and explore their own creativity, that’s inspiration enough to keep creating!
When visiting Pitti Uomo in Florence, I fell in love with the energy, production, and people. I like being involved anywhere at every opportunity; having an up close look at such a powerful and inventive industry is thrilling.
10. I noticed on your blog that you have used NARS powder in one of your drawings. Have you worked with any other unusual materials and what’s your favourite?
I doodle with any thing, anywhere. I can’t always get my hands on a paper and pencil so whatever is available – unusual resources usually render more interesting results. The blush, for example, proved to be just the right colour to use for that certain piece.
What do you think of Cat Novak? Are you a budding illustrator that would like more advice? Comment below.
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