Poignant pieces depicting President Jimmy Carter, Stacey Abrams and the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders drawn as Ernie from “Sesame Street.”
Simple pieces of whimsy featuring tin cans, tomatoes and dates.
All come from the mind of Catherine Moore, a highly-regarded freelance illustrator whose clients have included The Washington Post, Ralph Lauren, Men’s Health Magazine and more. Her work also has been featured numerous times in the international illustration quarterly Creative Quarterly, twice in the Atlanta AIGA Poster Show and also in the ICON Illustration Conference Art Show.
The Janesville native, who graduated from Craig High School in 2003, now makes her home in Atlanta, Georgia. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in psychology, she holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) in Savannah, Georgia, and works as an assistant art professor at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Away from work, Moore lives with her partner, Carlos; their year-old daughter, Ramona, and their dog-hter, Marta.
To learn more, visit CatherineAMoore.com, or search for @catamooreart on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Dribble.
1. In looking at your work, I really like your “Ernie Sanders” illustration. Do you have any personal favorite projects you’ve worked on? The “Arrested Development” series will always be a favorite. I watched hours of the show to get the right expressions.
2. From where do you draw inspiration/ideas for your illustrations? Most of my personal work revolves around portraits of political figures and entertainment celebrities, editorial social justice issues and plenty of puns.
3. What is your preferred medium to express your artistry? I’ve always preferred graphite … grayscale work was my first love. In grad school, I learned how to watercolor and taught myself the pastel/colored pencil combo I’ve used for my color portraits over the past few years.
4. What is currently the wallpaper on your cellphone? It’s buttons on the control panel of one of the Chernobyl nuclear reactors. I was fascinated by the HBO series and recently finished reading “Midnight in Chernobyl” by Adam Higginbotham.
5. Who is your favorite Muppet? Sam Eagle, who, as noted on HottestHeadsOfState.com, bears a striking resemblance to Warren G. Harding.
6. You have had your work featured in some prominent publications. What would you define as your big break? My packaging work for Paris Baguette USA generated a lot of future work, including my work for Ralph Lauren. However, I’ve always loved editorial work, so being commissioned to draw Justice Anthony Kennedy for The Washington Post was a real treat. The design team did an incredible job laying out the full-page image.
7. Are there any other illustrators whose work you admire? Do you incorporate aspects of their style into your own work in any way? Too many. Christoph Niemann is an all-time favorite for his visual puns. Although it’s rather cliche, seeing the Norman Rockwell exhibition in the Guggenheim (Museum in New York City) was an influence in visual storytelling through realism. I’m also continually influenced by my peers and friends from grad school who have been doing exceptional work in illustration.
8. Can you name a popular television show you either have never seen an episode of or that you don’t understand why it is popular? I couldn’t get into “Parks and Recreation.” It was too much like “The Office.” I’m very sorry, everyone else in the world.
9. Your illustration of President Jimmy Carter is in the collection at his presidential library and museum. How did that come to be? It came from Atlanta being a small town that loves its heroes. A friend of mine worked for the Young African Leaders Initiative and had a meeting for their group scheduled with President Carter. After I completed the portrait, she offered to gift him a print of it at their meeting. That print hangs in the Carter Center next to my friend Annalise Kaylor’s photograph of him, which I used with her permission as the reference. Through another photographer friend, I made contact with his presidential library and museum, which also has a print hanging at the entrance to the research library. It’s truly the honor of my career to have these portraits displayed.
10. Do you consider yourself political, or do you simply see opportunities for expressive illustrations in particular politicians? I think political personalities and their images provide the storytelling element people need to get behind a political idea. People are compelling in a way that dry political theories are not. I also don’t think anyone can ever completely align their personal political beliefs with another person’s. For the most part, in my personal work, I draw politicians whose stories I admire, even if I don’t 100% line up with them politically.
11. At the grocery store, what item always goes in your cart whether you need it or not? Siggi’s yogurt. Low sugar, high protein!
12. Before acquiring your Master of Fine Arts degree in illustration, you earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Why did you not pursue a career in psychology? The question is why did I not initially pursue a career in art. I did not understand how an undergraduate degree in art could translate into a job, and I also wanted to explore a lot of interests in college. However, I finished college without a job and with a withering connection to my calling. I knew that if I didn’t take a leap to pursue art then, it would be something I’d regret forever. I applied to SCAD, was accepted, and it was the most important leap of my life.
13. If you could learn to do anything, what would it be? Dance.
14. Have any of the human subjects of your illustrations reached out to you with comments about your work? I met a bar owner in Atlanta who told me (“Arrested Development” actor) David Cross was a regular at her restaurant and offered to give a print of my portrait of him to him next time he came in. Instead, he signed it and gave it back to me. That was pretty cool. The real Piper Kerman (author of “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison”) also retweeted my illustration of Piper Chapman from the “Orange is the New Black” series on Netflix. Also pretty cool!
15. In addition to being a freelance illustrator, you also are an assistant art professor at Georgia Gwinnett College in Lawrenceville, Georgia. What is your teaching philosophy when it comes to art? The most important connection students will make is that between art and the communion of a diverse society, in which they will encounter viewpoints different from their own. Through all of my teaching, I hope to help students create meaningful and truthful work while participating in a cycle of inspiration, creativity and collaboration.
16. As a writer, I know it’s sometimes hard to be creative on demand. Do you also sometimes struggle to be creative when deadlines approach for your illustrations? Creativity is, like any other skill, a practice. The adrenaline of a deadline fuels creative solutions. However, that said, over half of my jobs come to me with the art director already knowing exactly what he or she wants.
17. Do you collect anything? I have a small coin collection of small coins.
18. Describe your creative process. Being able to freely sketch, without edits or judgment, is the most important skill to develop for the creative process. Be able to open your ideas up to peer critique and allow that feedback to push your ideas further.
19. Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely? Never. This career is a marriage—you have to work for it, but it is sustained by a constantly renewed passion.
20. What advice do you have for any young illustrators who might want to follow in your footsteps? Proficiency follows practice, practice follows passion. Put your energy into proficiency in your craft, not pursuing a paycheck. Your calling lies in the intersection of what you love, what you’re good at, and what the world needs.
Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.