Artist Spotlight

Katie Licht has used art journaling all her life for self reflection

Katie Licht is a homemaker, mother of two, and graphic designer/artist. Her inspirations are nature, children, her spiritual life, and library books. She has been making collages for over 20 years.

Why do you love art journaling?

I’ve been filling up books with little pieces of paper and words for so long, this question took me by surprise. Like, huh… why DO I love it? It’s just a part of me now. It’s relaxing and helps me work through my questions about myself and my life.

Describe your art journaling process.

My work starts with the materials: searching for vintage paper, and making my own colored paper by painting Bristol board with acrylics. After that, it fluctuates. Sometimes my work is more abstract collage, sometimes it’s actual journalling with just small pieces of collage accents. Often I’ll discover (or rediscover) a vintage book and the text or images in it will inspire a whole batch of pages. After that, it’s just a matter of moving all the little pieces around until it feels right to me.

What tips do you have for beginners?

Try a lot of different things and be patient with yourself! Some styles may work for you better than others. For example, I don’t do any painting directly in my journal. My books are full of cut paper and writing with pens, and sometimes a bit of stamping or washi tape. Other artists use different paint mediums, stitching, fabric, calligraphic lettering… really the list is endless.

However, I also encourage people not to spend too much money when they begin. You could start your first journal with a cheap blank book, found objects from your life, and a set of beginner paints and a glue stick. I strongly feel that art journalling should be very accessible to anyone & that you don’t need to spend a fortune on special materials to get started. Once you start to learn more and develop your own style, then you can invest in better paints or specialized tools, but if you get hung up on that stuff in the beginning you might never really dive in.

What do you do when you don’t know what to make?

Honestly? I just don’t! If I don’t feel like making anything, I take a break from it. My art journalling goes in cycles. Some weeks I spend all my extra time in the art room, but some weeks I read a lot or work on house projects, or spend more time outside. I don’t ever force myself to do work if my heart really isn’t into it; I know that the cycle will come back around again and I just focus on something else.

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What are your must have supplies? What is your journal of choice?

Lately I have been working a lot in these little Fabriano EcoQua blank books, the paper is nice and they don’t have a lot of pages so it’s easy to fill them up (I think starting with a really huge book can be daunting because you can feel like you’ll never be able to fill it all!) Plus they come in a bunch of fun colors!

I also swear by Tombow glue tape runners. Why I am not buying them by the caseful is a mystery to me. I probably go through at least 4-6 refills every month. I am pretty messy with my work so these make my pages a little neater than using glue sticks or gel medium.

I have tried a number of types of paint and my very favorite is Golden Fluid Acrylics. They are fairly expensive but I’ve never been able to get any other type of paint to have the flow and the color intensity of these paints.

Who/what inspires you? 

I feel like my artwork comes from a very hidden place inside of me and I’m not sure if any specific thing inspires my work, other than just playing freely with colors, shapes, compositions.

In general though, I’m inspired by the podcasts I listen to (Fresh Air, Freakonomics, Creative Pep Talk, How to Be Amazing) and artists on instagram like Kristin Texeira @kristintexeira, Kindah Khalidy @kindahkhalidy, Dallas Clayton @dallasclayton, Kate Bingamon Burt @katebingburt, Anika Starmer @aisforanika … I could go on and on but I’ll leave it with those!

What is your creative story?

I’ve always liked to draw and color and make little things. In high school, I tried to take almost every art class my school offered, and at some point my art teacher mentioned that I should take a look at graphic design as a career. I think of that as one of the big turning points in my life. I studied graphic design at a state university, and the design program also had requirements for a certain number of fine art classes. Many of my teachers required us to keep a journal or make “process books” containing all our research and sketches for projects. My favorite college courses were art history, color study, mixed media, and calligraphy; I think of my art journaling practice is a direct descendent of those classes and those process books.

After school I spent almost 10 years as a professional designer, working many long hours in Indesign and Photoshop, and I’d come home and feel this intense need to make some “real,” which is when I really dove into painting and cutting up paper.

Do you feel like your art journal reflects yourself and your personality? How?

This is such an interesting question. I would say merely by keeping an art journal, I’m showing that I’m artistic and self searching. The pages in my books are really where I seek the same things I seek in my life: beauty, balance, and meaning. (And the bonus is that it’s usually a lot easier to make those things happen in my journal than it is to make them happen in real life!)

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Katie Licht

Katie Licht is a homemaker, mother of two, and graphic designer/artist. Her inspirations are nature, children, her spiritual life, and library books. She has been making collages for over 20 years.

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