a chinwag with artist katie benn
In case you missed it: subscribers now get a bonus poster with every issue. Woohoo! Inside frankie 103, you'll find some helpful reminders to pin to your wall, courtesy of artist Katie Benn. We chatted to Katie about art, creativity and finding unlikely inspiration in her tax return.
Tell us a little about your art and creative style. My work has always been a means of self discovery. My personal work centres around my inner world – I'm trying to make sense of my existence, which takes many forms. My overall creative style can be traced back to when I was little, flipping through my dad's old advertising books and helping him with his projects. He was a graphic designer and worked with big, chunky shapes and colours. I find bits of my dad in my work often. As I've gotten older, I've moved towards making stuff that looks like it was formed by human hands. I find that it allows me to be more free and unencumbered by design ‘rules’.
When and how did you first begin making art? I started making things all the time when I was a kid and I guess I never really stopped. Drawing, painting and using my imagination has always been at the forefront of my life experience. Art is my best friend and my favourite way to process life and emotions. I grew up around a lot of creative people, so art supplies and instruments were always around me. I was never really bored for long as a kid.
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How did your ‘It’s fine’ artwork come to be? I was in the process of preparing my taxes for 2020. I was stressed out and overwhelmed – like a lot of people, I'm sure – particularly because I'm in the US and self-employed and it was 2020. I felt like a little kid about to have a tantrum, and this part of me that sounded more like a parent just said, “All right, it’s fine – at least you’ve started and you’re working on it. It’s cool, it will get done. This is great.” And I was able to keep going.
A part of myself was like, "WOW GET A GRIP!" but in the nicest way possible. It was exactly what I needed, so I wrote it down in oil pastel so I could remember it. Then I shared it on my Instagram because I thought maybe someone else might need to hear it, too. Our own self-talk can be the worst sometimes, but if we get better at catching ourselves, it can help us cope.
Where do you find inspiration? Aside from making things, looking at things is my other favourite thing to do. My mum always said walking me home from school when I was little took forever because I’d be picking everything up and stopping and looking at it. I don’t think I’ve changed much in that regard. I can have a good time anywhere if I have space to wander. Whether I'm at a grocery store, museum or bus stop, it doesn’t really matter.
I get most excited when I discover a new way to express a feeling. l get excited thinking how I can share it in my work in a way where I can invoke that feeling or sense of wonder. When I sit down to start creating, the act of making morphs the idea and something new appears. I’m particularly thrilled by all the little unconscious choices along the way. It’s the quiet bits of you seeping out of the depths and being allowed to speak.
What’s next on your 'to-draw' list? I’m working on a handful of client projects at the moment, so those are top of the list. For my personal work, I’ve been writing a bunch lately, which has led me down an interesting path, and I’m excited to begin getting really weird drawing things. I don’t know entirely where I’m going, but in my experience, that’s when the best stuff happens.