Cathy-Reene illustrated Chase-Man: How My Brother Became a Real Superhero, which earned the #1 spot on The Gittle List 2017. (Co-authored by Chisa Merriweather and Nicole White.) In her exclusive Gittle interview, Cathy shares what inspires her work and what gives her hope. (Read Aviva’s review.)
How did it feel to win a spot on The Gittle List? Actually very exciting. Our book didn’t make it into the list last year, so I was anxiously following the revealing of the winners this year When the runner up was announced, I was kind of disheartened, and then we got the first place! It was quite a roller coaster week. I was really happy for Chisa, that her story got additional spot light it totally deserved, and sort of proud that I somehow help to make it happen
Do you prefer to work digitally? I have a mixed traditional/digital workflow. Sometimes, when I have a very aggressive timeline I do everything digitally – from thumbnails to final rendering. However, whenever I have time, I prefer starting traditionally, usually in pencil and maybe watercolors and later finish it digitally. Working traditionally just feels more multisensorial, if you know what I mean. It’s not that I am not comfortable with digital – in fact, it’s the medium that gives me the least amount of grief – it’s just that I miss the excitement of working by hand, especially at ideation stage, when I prefer to spread the ideas on paper around me, literally covering all available space in my studio.
Tell us about your latest project. I’m working on a new children’s book in collaboration with our local writer Benjamin Freeman. It’s a beautiful story about curiosity, courage, and compassion. We’ve just finished the dummy book for it, so I’m about to start with final illustrations. (See video below.)
What gives you hope? Random acts of kindness, even the smallest ones.
What was the last book read? Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. I thoroughly enjoyed it; in fact, it’s been a while since a book grabbed that much of my attention – mentally and emotionally. So, it’s 5 stars from me.
Which artists most influenced or inspired your work? I can’t definitively name the influencers, I tend to work in different techniques for different projects, so the inspirations vary. However, there are some illustrators I keep going back to, they are like a creative anchor for me. Rébecca Dautremer, Lisbeth Zwerger, Christian Birmingham, Man Arenas, to name a few. All of them have their very distinct artistic voices. My Pinterest boards are a much better insight into my inspirations
Cathy-Reene is a freelance illustrator and character designer from the Pacific Northwest (Seattle). After graduating from San Francisco Academy of Art University she has been working in different genres of illustration including but not limited by children’s and fantasy book illustrations and concept art. She enjoys working with traditional and digital media as well as constantly mixing both of them in a search of unique illustration mood and feeling.