Keep on Believing in Fairies: An Interview With Collage Artist, Katie McCann About Her Strangely Beautiful and Curious Creatures

Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I am Katie McCann, originally from England, now living in Berkeley, California and I am a Collage Artist.

How did you get started doing what you do?
As a child, I was always painting, drawing, cutting, and reading. I ended up going to fashion school and working in the industry for a little while but after I moved to the USA with my family I started painting again and taking art classes. I became fascinated with collage and eventually gave up the paintbrush and took up the scissors.

How would you describe your creative style?
My creative style is intricate, complex, and highly detailed. The collages that I create become places where beauty is strange, creatures are curious and a sense of wonder prevails. My style is heavily influenced by the books I read as a child and my fascination with science, nature, and folklore.

“The collages that I create become places where beauty is strange, creatures are curious and a sense of wonder prevails.”

What is art to you?
Art is a journey back to the daydreams of my childhood.

What’s your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from Victorian Fairy Painting, William Morris Wallpaper, Cabinets of Curiosity, botany, entomology, cryptozoology and haute couture. I love antique natural history books, medical illustrations, old maps, vintage Vogue magazines and the television series Planet Earth. I also keep scrapbooks and boxes full of cuttings, photos, dried flowers, butterflies and lace and these are a constant source of inspiration.

“My inspiration comes from Victorian Fairy Painting, William Morris Wallpaper, Cabinets of Curiosity, botany, entomology, cryptozoology and haute couture.”

What does your typical day look like?
After I have walked my dog I will begin working in my studio in the morning. If I am preparing for a show I will spend much of the day framing and preparing my collages. Otherwise, I will work on a few different pieces. Sometimes I have to focus on marketing and social media which is not as much fun as creating but is a very important part of my work and process as an artist. I will also continue working in the evening – this is usually when I do my cutting and filing.

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
I will be working on two to three collages at one time so it is hard to say how long it takes to finish each piece. The larger, layered and 3D collages can take up to three weeks to finish completely but a smaller piece could take 3-4 hours at one sitting. I think it also depends on the preparation for each collage which involves sourcing and cutting out the images. Finding the right bird, flower or mushroom, for example, can often take me a long time whereas if I have one hundred butterflies and fifty starfish already cut out I can create a piece very quickly.

How do you keep motivated?
I keep motivated by setting myself realistic goals whether this is applying for shows and publications or taking part in projects. Recently I did the #100dayproject on Instagram and this was a great way to stay positive and focused since I had to create one collage a day. I am also taking part in The Sketchbook project as I think this will help motivate me to keep creating on a daily basis.

What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Keep on believing in fairies.

“Keep on believing in fairies.”

What do you do when you’re in a creative rut?
When I am in a creative rut, which happens quite frequently, I will challenge myself to cut out something that is complex and delicate, like a jellyfish, or the root system of a plant. I find that once I start to concentrate on the cutting, I forget the problem and am more easily able to focus. When I overthink my collages that is when inspiration dries up. I just keep on cutting!

“When I am in a creative rut, which happens quite frequently, I will challenge myself to cut out something that is complex and delicate, like a jellyfish, or the root system of a plant. I find that once I start to concentrate on the cutting, I forget the problem and am more easily able to focus. “

What art supplies do you use?
I use scissors, glue sticks, tweezers, colored pencils and sometimes ink.

What’s your process like?
I am constantly cutting out images from books and categorizing them into flat files, drawers, and folders and then labeling everything. When I begin the process of creating my collage I will arrange the images on the page. It becomes like a complex jigsaw puzzle as I move these images around until the composition is right. I usually work in a series so I have my ideas and themes already mapped out which is why I always work on more than one collage at a time. Sometimes there will be hundreds of tiny images on the page so I will take a photo before I start to glue the elements down. I can then refer to the photo as I glue all the pieces into place.

You can find Katie McCann on Facebook (@BeetleBlossom), Instagram (@BeetleBlossom), and Twitter (@abeetleblossom).

You can follow our art blog, Jung Katz on these platforms as well

 

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