Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Artist Feature: The Wonderful work of Katy Horan

When I first came across Katy Horan's artwork it took my breath away. I hadn't seen anything like it before and each piece is so original and unique, down to the smallest of details. I love the subdued colour palettes and detail that Katy works in, and the stories that she creates with her mysterious characters and situations. There is so much to take in and my mind and imagination start to wander every time I admire her art. Katy's work is hauntingly beautiful and full of enigma and intrigue..

1. How did your business come about (and when did you start)?

I started showing my work in 2005. I really admired the work of Kathleen Lolley (a Kentucky artist), so I emailed her saying so. I mentioned that I would love to show with her. She actually responded and invited me to show with her in Louisville, Ky. I, of course, said yes. I have been showing somewhat regularly ever since.

2. Can you give a quick insight into your working method? (ideas, techniques, etc.)

I usually begin a body of work with lots of research. I tend to get obsessed with certain subjects, so I will read a lot about whatever is intriguing me at the time and take notes or make sketches of how to incorporate it in the work. At that point, the ideas will determine the execution of the actual work. I don’t always start in the same way. Sometimes I start with loose ink drawings and sometimes I start by cutting paper or making meticulous sketches.

3. What has been the hardest single obstacle to your life in design (apart from a shortage of time, which seems to be universal amongst creatives!)?

I struggle with my attention span quite a bit. I was diagnosed with ADHD at 14, and have been on and off medication for it ever since. In a weird twist of fate, my work turned out to be really labor intensive and require extreme focus. I can get there sometimes, but I often struggle with getting into the right headspace. 

4. How do you stay motivated? What inspires you?

Deadlines are very helpful for motivation. It is really hard for me to finish a piece without a deadline looming. I am inspired by so many things: folk art, music, movies, books. It is hard to maintain inspiration, but sometimes I'lI stumble across it in unexpected places, like on TV.

5. What has been the icing on the cake for you as a artist/designer?

I love that my work allows me to study any subject I want. It is such a great excuse to watch movies or read about anything. I have also had the opportunity to spend time at The Vermont Studio Center artist residency. It’s basically artist and writer summer camp. Residencies are a special perk of being an artist, as they are something that is both magical and professionally rewarding. 

6. Who do you admire (other artists/designers; other people generally) and what/who are your biggest influences, past or present?

Kiki Smith is my big favorite. I love the way she moves organically from sculpture to printmaking to drawing and installation. She also works with similar subject matter as I do.

I don’t think I would be the artist I am today if it weren’t for my paternal Grandfather. He was a paleontologist and folk artist. In addition to digging up Dinosaurs (which totally rules), he made “fossils” of mythical creatures like faeries and mermaids. His name was Bob Slaughter and he passed down a love of mythology and folklore that I am very grateful for. 

7. Describe your creative space

It is a renovated garage in my backyard. I love it! It is kind of small, but I have space to make work, do business type stuff and to sit and read (which is my favorite studio activities). I am a very solitary person, so I work best at home all alone. It also makes it very easy to balance my home/art life. I am pretty good at jumping back and forth between the two. 

8. What is the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

There is a great quote from Chuck Close that I tell myself over and over again: “Inspiration is for amateurs, the rest of us just show up and get to work”. I want the magic to happen everyday, but the sad truth is that I am only human and have to live in the real world. This quote brings me back down to earth and reminds me that 99% of what I do is actual work. There is no magic wand...unfortunately. 

You can keep up to date with Katy's work here...

(all above images are © Katy Horan)