Katelyn Tippin completed her studies at the University of Western Ontario and received a BFA Honours Specialization in Visual Arts in 2011. She works in a wide variety of mediums including; ink, watercolour, oil, acrylic and relief printmaking.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I grew up in St. Thomas, Ontario in a creative household. My mom was always crafting and my dad had an interest in photography and woodworking. There were always so many creative materials at hand, so I was constantly making…something. As an only child I got to spend lots of time with my grandparents who lived in Shedden and Meaford. I was lucky to be exposed to many different skills, my whole family had some kind of creative hobby they would share. High school I was a bit on the fringes, this was a time where art became more about expression for me rather than technical. I attended the University of Western Ontario for Fine Art and got to create alongside some really great peers and teachers. I am currently living in London with my partner Matt and our bulldog Odin.
What is the first memory you have connected to creating art?
Art was a huge part of my childhood; I was always creating. One of my first memories of painting was with watercolours at my grandparents’ dining table. I also loved to colour, I remember this Ninja Turtles colouring portfolio, I loved! My first “studio” was a reclaimed school desk my dad re-topped and I filled with supplies.
How did you get started in the art world?
When I was 15 my mom encouraged me to volunteer at the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre. That was the first time I really started to think about a career in the Arts. Originally I wanted to work in the medical field. I was lucky to be part of a creative work environment and that really encouraged me to continue down that path.
How would you describe your subject matter or the content of your work?
The focus of my work is female portraiture. There are also currents of nostalgia and body art. I feel when painting figures they have a connection to the viewer and me included. Portraits invite in narrative. I love to imagine the figures history, what they would have felt and their story. I often play with time, mixing nostalgic past and contemporary elements to complicate the characters narrative. I also create art to pay the bills too so I often paint commissions and create small acrylic still lives and animals.
What mediums do you work with?
Ink and watercolour are currently my most used. I was working on watercolour paper but recently I have been using wood panel because it allows me to work on a larger scale. I also paint in acrylic and sometimes oil. Lino printing is also something I work with but I was spoiled in University with access to a print shop and a technician that had a wealth of knowledge, so now my lino cuts are much smaller due to the practicality. I have also been casting in concrete this year too.
What is your WHY?
I would feel hollow without it, creativity and making is a huge part of my life, a constant for me. I am a bit of a MacGyver by nature, I will make it work with what I have, and that element seems to permeate everything I do. I just have to be working on something from refinishing furniture, painting or re-purposing.
What are you presently inspired by— are there particular things you are reading, listening to or looking at to fuel your work?
I often create in front of a screen but it acts like a radio for me. I like noise when I work, just seems to get me out of my head space and into a creative work mode. I am inspired by looking at contemporary and historical art. Often after seeing a new exhibition I get a surge of creative energy, I feel inspired by their labour, energy and technique. I watch a lot of Sci-Fi and the limitless creativity of the sets, character and the narrative inspire me. There are no limits. In University I took many gender studies courses so I often reflect readings and they influence my work.
Besides your art practice, are you involved in any other kind of work?
Yes, lots of it. I instruct art classes for youth, I am an Administrative Assistant for the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre and I work in the Bakery/Deli department in a grocery store in London. Lately I have also been casting concrete to make jewellery to sell.
Is there something you are currently working on, or are excited about starting that you can tell us about?
I am working on a larger piece diluted acrylic on wood panel. It’s a portrait with the portrait occurring twice in the same piece, one is look up at the other. I have been working a lot lately with repetition of the same figure in one piece. I keep reflecting on the idea of the many faces we present and the internal dialog that is unknown to us the viewer.
Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events?
Where can people see/buy your work?
Gathered, Art and Soul, gift shop at the St. Thomas-Elgin Public Art Centre and through social media. I also annually participate in the Railway City Arts Crawl in St. Thomas. I can also be contacted by email for commissions.
Any advice for emerging artists?
Keep working, constantly. People often seem to stall after completing their degree, it’s so important to stay active in your art community and to produce new work even if you are burnt out or exhausted… keep making. It’s an adjustment entering the art world after university; things like practicality come in to play. Not everything you make is going to be in an exhibition, or critiqued by peers. Sometimes you need to make art to pay the bills. Artists often need to wear many hats; you need to be a promoter, business person, webpage and social media designer. Utilize your contacts, promote other artists and help each other. No one is going to find you; you need to find them to get things going.
Thank you Katelyn!
interview by Ann-Marie Cheung