Katie Rodgers, the talent behind Paperfashion, is a Boston-based fashion illustrator and women’s sports apparel designer for Reebok. Katie has worked with industry heavy-hitters like Coach, Target, Elle Girl, and Rue Magazine. We had a chance to catch up with her about how she got her start, her upcoming move to Barcelona, and her on-going love affair with glitter!
Tell us a bit about your day job at Reebok, what do you do there?
I work during the day as a women’s sport apparel designer at Reebok, and mainly design for the European market. It’s a great place to work, and I’ve had such an amazing experience there. Imagine going to work with your friends every day… it’s great. We call them… the ‘bok squad. If you like to work out, they’ve got some incredible facilities for that too!
How did Paperfashion come about?
Becoming a fashion illustrator… just sort of happened! I grew up loving art and design, and decided to study industrial design in college. While I was in school at Carnegie Mellon University, I realized I had a love for fashion more than anything else. I quickly lost interest in becoming an industrial designer, and altered my curriculum to cater towards the fashion side of product design. Needless to say, my love for fashion blossomed and I knew I needed to continue with it. Once I graduated and started an apparel design job at Reebok, I felt something had to be done with my spare time… I began illustrating regularly, and started my blog, Paperfashion. It’s been an ever evolving project since. I’ve learned so much–not only about illustration and fashion– but the business side of things as well. However, the most rewarding part, is the thought that people really enjoy seeing my work. That keeps me going more than anything.
Did you draw a lot as a child? What were your subjects?
YES. I drew all the time as a child. It’s funny, I still remember exactly what I was into drawing at each age. In 2nd grade, believe it or not, I drew fashiony girls non-stop! After that, came my infatuation with horses. I found a book on how to draw them, and I spent day and night perfecting my horse. After that, I had a slight obsession with all things Lisa Frank. Anyway, I’d like to say my style and subjects have since progressed…
When did you love affair with glitter begin? Is it relegated only to your drawings, or does it extend to your wardrobe? Your makeup?
It’s always been the taboo craft tool since it’s nearly impossible to clean up. I did a fashion show in college and used it on my dresses– needless to say my studio-mates were not too happy about glitter invading their workspace. Anyway, I decided to introduce it into my illustrations not too long ago and I love how it turned out! It adds some dimension to the watercolor. Glitter definitely doesn’t make its way into my makeup often… a bit too flashy for me. My wardrobe on the other hand, does include the occasional sequin bag or scarf!
What does your workspace look like?
I illustrate in my Boston studio apartment–or wherever I am on the go. I have a studio desk space set up in the main room with everything I need. I love to have a colorful (but simple) workspace. It’s nothing fancy, just the basics with some character!
Tell us your thoughts on the Internet as it relates to an artist like yourself. Do you think it’s helped your career to have your work accessible to the masses?
The internet is the main reason Paperfashion has taken off. Besides my actual website, the internet has been a way for me to promote my work, and grow my client list. I can’t tell you how many jobs I’ve received via Twitter, Facebook, etc. The internet is an amazing tool for business!
Word on the street is that you are relocating to Barcelona! That’s so exciting… what will you be doing there?
I am! I’m being relocated to Reebok’s European Design Center- which happens to be located in sunny Barcelona. It’s a huge change in my life… but I’m really looking forward to the challenge. Things here in Boston are so great, but I feel like this move will be an amazing opportunity to grow as a designer and as a person. I’ve always dreamed of living abroad and learning another language–so now is my chance! I’ll be working on similar product to what I design here in Boston, but it will only be sold in Europe.
You’ve been published in 2 books so far, is that correct? How did you feel when the first one came out?
Yes, that’s correct (with two more on the way!). The first book I was published in felt so great! I used to love the library for one thing; the art section. To be published in books sold in this very section… felt so unbelievable. I just hope my work will inspire students the way other artist’s work did for me.
What other fashion illustrators do you look up to?
I admire a million different illustrators- but there isn’t anyone in particular I look up to. Every day I find a new artist that inspires me… from graffiti artists all the way to classics like Van Gogh!
Any big plans for the month of August? What’s up next for PaperFashion?
Well, my move will be happening soon– so I’ve got quite a busy month ahead of me! Lots of travel, and packing! Paperfashion-wise, I’ve got a few projects I’ve been working on. They are different from what I normally do… but I’m super excited to share them. I’m also excited that Boston is officially part of FNO this year- so I’ll be participating in that :)