Words by Monica
What made you realise how important art was to you?
All throughout my life I felt conflicted with admitting how much art meant to me, which I think was me “protecting” myself. I didn’t think it would be possible to pursue a career in art and society supported that assumption, in my opinion. Ever since my early years, in primary school, I refused to entertain the fact that it could mean anything more than just a “hobby” and instead strived to have a “real career” in order to fit in with my peers. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually allowed it to manifest itself in my life. I suppose it was around the time my perspective on reality changed and I began to realise that I don’t have to suppress parts of myself or be ashamed to say I’m an artist. Knowing that I can simultaneously strive to be happy and stable and also pursue art was incredibly comforting and motivating. It’s so strange that something I thought I’d have to forget in order to live a “good” life, is now something I centre my whole life around and that gives me so much
I suppose it’s so important to me now, because it has helped me cope with living. It’s my form of connecting to other people and expressing myself. I’m not very good at verbalizing my ideas, I’m more comfortable using visual art to show who I am.
Favourite medium to work in?
I’ll always love to work in pen and ink! It really makes up the foundation and basis for the majority of my work. I remember being nine or ten years old in primary school, using a fine liner for the first time and instantly feeling so comfortable with it!
I enjoy the way pens can achieve a high contrast, precise line work and complexity in an image.
You have captioned one of your posts “I draw what I cannot say”. What particular themes do you feel inspires a great deal of your work?
I’m inspired by everything. There is usually a feeling I need to express when I initially conceive an idea - some sort of driving force and I need to get something out. I suppose that’s why I captioned that post in that way. The vast majority of my work is inspired by playing with colours (or lack of), contrasting images and juxtapositions, fashion, surrealism,
psychedelia, psychology, human emotions, death, occultism, music and identity.
How do you spend your average morning?
I normally have to get up really early for work -
so my average morning is pretty boring! I always have to start off the day with a tea or coffee to really wake myself up.
I used to hate mornings, but I’ve grown to love them. I like the quietness and how the streets seem still. There’s always something crisp about the atmosphere.
Is there a reason you focus more on females in your art?
Consciously, no. There’s probably many reasons why I’m more inclined to drawing females or feminine characteristics in my work that I may not be fully aware of, though...If I had to guess, I think personally identifying as a female is a big factor. I think women are so interesting and complex and strong. I was raised by a single mother and spent the majority of my life exclusively surrounded by women - I suppose this affects my work as art imitates life.
Where do you feel you’re most yourself?
I feel the most at ease and connected with myself when I’m alone. I suppose, if I had to chose somewhere in particular that allows me to feel most like “myself” it would be in my bedroom. I find it very easy to lose myself in the madness of everyday life, so when I have the opportunity to withdraw and spend some time alone, in familiar surroundings, I can begin to reconnect again. I also feel like myself amongst nature - being surrounded by flowers, ferns and trees. There’s something about it that’s quite comforting and peaceful.
What is your first memory of being inspired artistically?
I can’t quite pinpoint that exact moment, unfortunately. I remember always being a bit of a dreamer, and I’d often try to draw all the imaginary people and places I’d create in my mind. Also, my father was naturally really good at drawing. He’d often draw my favourite cartoon characters with me when I was really young, and I remember being absolutely amazed. Looking back, I recall wanting to be able to draw like that - it really inspired me.
Self-taught artist Kate Raq, creates portraits that are haunting through the manner in which she illustrates human identity.
Currently at the age of 24, Raq explores deeper themes which she explains as a way she can "verbalize the majority of her thoughts and feelings", designating visual art as one of her primary forms of self-expression. Kate has a unique style, and has seemed to have mastered her technique in both the most vibrant of colours as well as in more monochromatic tones. The characters she creates have sharp, angular aesthetics which help to depict a certain enigmatic strength, which remains consistent throughout her artworks. When Kate isn't drawing mysteriously beautiful people, she is creating imagery of animals and other nature, extensively exploring earths most natural, yet most mystifying characteristics.
Being an artist in a world where school and the education system can at times seem catered more toward the academic side of things and limited and closed off towards creativity, I had the opportunity to chat with the wonderful Kate about the self-discovery and acceptance she has gained throughout her life in order to overcome what she felt was expected of her.
What’s playing in the background when you’re doing an afternoon sketch?
Usually I like painting to the sound of people talking - either in the background on TV, youtube videos or podcasts. I find it easier to concentrate for some reason. When I’m sketching I listen to stuff that reflects the look and feel of what I’m working on. I tend to listen to emotionally evocative stuff like Sonic Youth, Nirvana or Death Grips. On the lighter side of things, I love to work to classic reggae deep cuts, bossa nova and psychedelic rock/ pop. I’m also a massive hip hop/ rap fan of course.
What are you currently working on?
I have a problem with starting several different projects at once which makes it hard to focus. I’m constantly working on my own personal paintings/ illustrations daily, and that’s something I’ll always do as a way to cope with life. I’m currently trying to maintain my online shop and focus on sharing more types of products. I’m looking into t-shirt printing or making cards - stuff that’s more accessible for people to appreciate.
Is there anyone special to you that you would like to thank? Why?
I’d like to thank anyone that’s ever wished me well or given me words of encouragement - even if it’s just a comment on something I’ve made, you don’t know how much that means to me. It’s so easy to feel alone or lost in the world, so when someone goes out of there way to say something kind it seriously warms my heart!
What do you hope to do in the long term?
I just hope to have the ability to continue creating art and see where life takes me.