Hey everyone! Today, we have Stephanie telling us about her take on art, life and..cats!
Aptly named ‘Inky Cat Studio’, Stephanie’s work can be described as cats, cats, an assortment of other animals too- set with everyday items like scooters, donuts, human stuff..you know?
And she also draws humans. Intrigued? She terms her own art as ‘offbeat’, and I’d add the words..quirky, imaginative and whimsical as well to the mix!
Well, let’s hear what she has to say on the matter!
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Hello! My name is Stephanie and I’m an Australian artist living in Singapore for the last 2 years with my husband and two cats. Before that we lived in Sydney where I worked for a long time in the higher education industry.
When I came to Singapore, I worked a few corporate jobs at first but after a while I felt the pull to work for myself and actively make a living from something that I’m passionate about.
After a lot of soul searching, Inky Cat Studio was born in August of 2015 😃
What motivates and inspires you the most?
I love producing art that expresses me and my ideas. My motivation is to build a successful business around this passion of mine, so that I can spend quality time with my family, travel and live around the world.
When I need something to inspire me, I like to go through Pinterest and my Instagram feed. There are just so many talented artists with such a great variety of stories to share.
Looking at their work really helps me think of what I could be working on as well and helps kickstart my imagination.
Besides that, I also like listening to podcasts these days and TED Talks are always a great way to feel inspired.
On a personal level, my husband is also a big inspiration because I feel that on this journey, where I am the meandering, often confused traveller, he is the steady and recurring signpost in my life. (He’s also very fast and good about packing all my merchandise hehe)
I absolutely love your quirky and colourful animal sketches! What is your drawing/painting process like?
Thanks Aaria 😃 Yes I love drawing animals! Especially when I can put them in odd scenarios like a Pug with a Ninja Sword or a Cat wearing a Donut.
I also paint less oddball animals like this fish, but the process for all of them are roughly the same.
First, I always try to have a strong point of inspiration before I start on a painting.
Lately I’ve realised that if I don’t have a strong feeling or idea, or if I haven’t researched a subject before I paint, it can become quite lifeless and isn’t satisfying for me. Sometimes it could just be a memory of a good joke between my husband and I, or sometimes it’s a video that I see online, whatever it is, I try to set an intention before I paint.
Even if I’m painting abstracts the intention I have is “I’m going to play with colour” or “I’m going to experiment”.
When I know what my intention is then I begin sketching out ideas that I have. When it’s a very clear idea I just sketch directly onto my watercolour paper and just paint away.
Other times it takes a while to fine tune so I do little thumbnails in my sketchbook. When I’m happy with a thumbnail then I draw a final sketch onto watercolour paper and start painting. It’s during the painting process that sometimes I’ll think “this wasn’t such a good idea”, but usually if I have a strong intention beforehand it helps me overcome these doubts so I can at least finish the painting.
(the model and below, the art inspired)
How much time on an average does it take to create a piece?
Most of my works are A4 size if they’re rectangular and 25cm x 25cm if they’re square. For these sizes my whole process only takes about an hour or two.
Just out of interest, what was the first (or your favourite) piece of art you remember creating?
When my older brother was in school he used to paint with oils. When I was 13 or 14, after he moved out, I took my brother’s left over oil paints and brushes and painted a rose on a black background. I think this rose was inspired by the enchanted rose in Beauty and the Beast lol.
I had never painted in oils, but I had tons of my brother’s oil painting books to read so I thought I’d just go for it. It sounded like a great idea at the time, but I wish I chose a smaller canvas lol It’s a memorable first piece, because it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be and I got paint everywhere, but when I did finish I felt a real sense of accomplishment.
Where do you see yourself in a few years?
I see myself managing a growing a creative business and still travelling and living overseas. I see myself having more confidence as an artist and continuing to experiment and define my style.
(her husband helping her out at work)
Can you share a glimpse of a typical day in your life?
Sure. A typical day in my home office looks like:
– 9am wake up and go through my morning routine: shower then coffee and some kind of light breakfast, check my phone for alerts on my social media for Inky Cat and my personal accounts.
– 9.30 Hop on the computer to plan out my day using https://getplan.co/. I love this tool because it syncs with my Google calendar and keeps my tasks visible through out the day. It really helps me own a task when I see that I’ve allocated time for it.
-10 am – Go through any online tasks that I need to do; emails, marketing, art research etc.
– 11.30am – Working on art pieces on the computer: scanning completed pieces and working on them in photoshop or illustrator.
-1pm – I usually get hungry around this time. Either I’ll eat at home or go down to the shops and pick up something around there. Sometimes I’ll drop by my Printer to pick up any reproductions that I’ve had printed as well.
2.30pm – I’m back home and if nothing’s pressing then I’ll do a short workout.
3.30pm – I’ll pack all the prints and merchandise I picked up earlier in the day and put them aside in boxes for a courier to pick up.
4pm – If I have any direct orders to ship, I’ll take this time to drop by the local post office and send them away.
4.30pm – Art time! (this includes sketching and researching, looking for reference material).
6pm – I start thinking about dinner plans with the husband. If I’m cooking at home, then I’ll start around this time. When he comes home we usually talk about each other’s day and after dinner we’ll settle down into our own wind down routines.
8.30pm – Art time! This may not necessarily be another painting, it could be a doodle or a smaller illustration. Sometimes I also spend this time just looking at more art online.
10pm – Read a few chapters on my Kindle
11pm – Go to bed.
How long has painting and art in general been your hobby? How did you think you could convert it to something more?
Art and painting has been an interest of mine for as long as I can remember. I have always needed some kind of creative outlet, for a while I also played classical guitar and crocheted (I still do! :D) . But painting has always been the constant in my life.
I transitioned from the mindset that art was just a hobby, when after moving to Singapore I had to reassess my career plans. In Sydney, because I was in the same industry for so long, my career progression was quite straight forward. But in Singapore, I started from a clean slate.
So I did what was comfortable and took 2 office jobs before I realised that I was pursuing someone else’s dream and that I wasn’t passionate about it. When you graduate from school and start out, there’s nothing wrong with working for someone and gaining experience like this.
But for myself, I felt like an office job wasn’t going to get me where I wanted and the more I felt dissatisfied, the more I started to narrow down what I DID want to do, which was make art. At first it sounded ridiculous even to me, but because I knew what I didn’t want to do I made a plan with my husband and started painting furiously so I could build up a body of work. After that, the rest is history 😃
What is your favourite travel destination, colour, food and flower?
I’m half Japanese (dad is, mum is Filipino) so I love Japan for their everything! The beaches in the Philippine are also amazing, so I’d like to go there again with my husband.
Favourite colour is Prussian blue.
Food: Too many! Right now I’m thinking, waffles, nasi lemak, ramen, beef stew…I could go on and on.
I don’t know if I have a favourite flower, but lately I was thinking that orchids are really fun to draw and are very pretty.
What’s the importance of art in your daily lifestyle?
Art causes me to reflect more on everything and make my own interpretations. It makes me slow down and observe and think. I can’t rush out my drawings or paintings, and even if I could I imagine it wouldn’t be enjoyable.
So when I sit down and sketch or go online and look for reference photos or inspiration, I feel like I’m not just admiring pretty things. I feel like I’m absorbing new information and interpreting it in my own way.
I really like this feeling, because for a long time I didn’t prioritise the way I interpreted the world. I prioritised how my teachers, or bosses wanted to see things, how my company wanted to see things. But making art reminds me to express and share my own views of the world.
What do you do in your leisure time? (apart from art, of course!)
Lately, my husband and I have been visiting Macritchie Reservoir here in Singapore to go hiking and kayaking. Hopefully soon we can get our two star certification for kayaking and go on expeditions 😀
Some themes/ topics inspiring you nowadays?
Lately I’ve been painting a lot of hands and legs lol With these, my style is quite different from when I paint my usual animals. These are for upcoming art shows that I’m participating in so I can’t reveal too much yet, but they’re happening within a few months and I’m very excited to push myself and try new things!
I chose to paint body parts only because I think even on their own they’re strong but delicate and expressive. I want to see how much I can convey just by painting them alone.
What are your go-to art supplies and your preferred art media?
I use Micron pens and brush pens from Kuretake or the $2 ones from Daiso for my doodles and small illustrations. For my sketches, I have a mechanical pencil from Muji with blue lead that I like to use. The blue fades away easier into a painting if I decide to paint it, as opposed to regular lead.
I love watercolour. It’s my favourite medium by far. When I want to paint on the go I have a portable Windsor and Cotman set, but when I paint at home I pull out my box of Kuretake Gansai Tambi and Holbein tubes.
I only usually use two brushes when I paint, a number 4 synthetic round brush, and a 0 brush for details. I rarely need to use a bigger brush, but if I do, I have a half inch and 1 inch square brush too.
There was also a time when I would only use my small or medium Aquash water brushes, but nowadays I only use them when I’m out of the house. A good white pen is also very important for highlights so I use a white Sakura Gelly Roll pen for this. Sometimes, I’ll dig out a tube of white acrylic paint as well.
For paper I just use any good watercolour paper – ideally it’s smooth or hot press. But for my smaller doodles and illustration, I’ll draw on any clean spot I can find lol I’ve scanned in doodles that I drew on copy paper or business cards. I always try to have a pen and paper near me.
How did you discover your own style of drawing? Any advice for artists stuggling with getting in the swing of things?
My style is still very much a work in progress, but I do feel that I’m slowly starting to see what colours I’m drawn to, how I like to mix them and what subjects interest me. I attribute this progress to just making a lot of art.
Looking at other people’s styles help as well. Making a board on Pinterest of art that interests also helps me see the types of things I like and what I want to try myself. So yes make lots of art.
It can be frustrating when it feels like there are roadblocks to your growth, so my next advice is that nothing is wasted. Every artist I know of, including myself make a ton of bad drawings and sketches.
But of course, that’s not what gets posted on Instagram or printed. But that’s not to say that they’re a waste of time and effort (which is how I thought of them before).
Lately, I’ve come to understand that even the worst and even the most random of sketches move you that one step closer to that meaningful piece of work that you’ve always wanted to make. When I realised this, I started putting less pressure on myself and really appreciating all those little sketches and doodles.
(as Stephanie puts it, the rare deer cat!)
Why cats?! (I love ‘em too!, but I want to know why you named your whole biz around them!)
Besides them being super cute (my new favourite instagram kitty is sir_silas_kitty and albertbabycat), my own cats are the epitome of cool. They’re so chill and they totally live to the beat of their own drum.
They always stretch after they wake up, when they play they really play and when they’re concentrating on something (e.g birds outside the window), it’s very hard to distract them. They enjoy life and have incredible focus.
These are qualities that I really admire and that I want to incorporate in my art and business.
My logo, the black ink blot kitty, is based around my 16 year old Devon Rex. I thought I’d make a logo and brand name around him because I wanted to be reminded of all these qualities so that it would keep motivating me.
Find Stephanie and her work here: