If you know me you know I like cats and I like Creatives. Therefore, it is no surprise that this week I am Spotlighting the artistic Kate Funk. She is a graduate of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and has brought all her talents together with AC, the ultimate coworker to create a whimsical line of cards and calendars. Her pictures always put a smile on my face!
1. Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Kate Funk. I’ve always had a really hard time answering the question of what I do since there are so many things. I guess photographer is the best answer – although shooting photographs has become a very small fraction of my work week compared to the amount of time I spent making the costumes/scenes
to shoot and the final products with the photographs on them.
AC as Bob Ross
2. How has your Art changed over time?
When I first went to art school for photography I did the standard black and white thing that we all do. It really wasn’t my thing, though. It wasn’t until I started working with color photography that I really found myself. I did a lot of experimental work with toy cameras and polaroids, but the subject just always seemed to be how I saw color. When I first started photographing AC I didn’t see it as art like my other photography because I was just doing something fun and using a digital camera for the first time. It eventually dawned on me that I could put more work into the photos and turn them into something that was both fun and art.
3.What inspires you?
4. What’s your strongest memory of childhood?
There are so many. But I guess if it’s something in relation to what I do now the ones that come to mind are:
When I was little my family would go on vacations every summer. I would always bring my camera along and take a million photos of every mundane thing we saw along the road. I had this camera bag around my shoulder one year and my brother and I were walking along a trail and he stopped and looked at me and said, “You should be a photographer. You look like you could be that.” After that I got it stuck in my head that that would be awesome, but I assumed it wasn’t a realistic career. It wasn’t until many years later in high school that I finally got to take my first photography class and realized it was something I really did love. It was senior year and I had already got accepted into UW-Madison for zoology, but I immediately changed my major to photography as I realized there was nothing else I really wanted to do.
I also spent a lot of time with my grandfathers growing up since they were my babysitters. I come from a family with lots of creative skills who like to make things rather than buy them and I remember spending a lot of time in one of my grandfather’s workshop while he would make things including wooden toys for us. On one particular day when he was watching me we were hanging out in the workshop and he had this box of kittens in there for some reason. I sat and played with all day while he worked. Nothing spectacular happened, but I remember it very clearly. It was the best day ever.
AC is the PURRfect helper when Kate makes his costumes
5. What was the first thing you ever made?
I know I must have done countless art project growing up, but the first thing I really remember making where I got to pick what I wanted to do instead of doing an assignment was a large mosaic table. I found an image I liked of a little boy holding a bowl with a lizard in it and translated it into different colors. I rolled out all the clay, cut all the pieces for it, and glazed them all in the different colors. My dad took an old table and made a frame around the edges to set all the tiles into and I put a dark blue grout around all of them. It turned out beautiful and I really love it, but keep it in my parents basement for fear that anyone will use and ruin it. Which now that I think about it is pretty sad – since no one gets to see it down there.
6. What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I’ve had countless part-time jobs since I was 15. Mostly retail or food related such as a waitress or barista. My favorite job was working at a camera/film store where I was in charge of the video department. What that really meant was I got to take people’s old VHS and super 8 home movies and transfer them to DVD. So I basically spent all day just sitting and watching peoples’ home movies. It was amazing. My other favorite job which actually ended up changing the course of my life was working at a local paper/gift store called Broadway Paper. I was just looking for a part-time job at the time for some extra cash and fell in love with the store – especially the greeting card section. It was so different from all the greeting cards I had seen in the past – which were just the basic types you see at a Hallmark or Target. It eventually became the inspiration for me to start my own greeting card line.
7. What is your dream project?
I think I’m actually doing it right now. I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing with my life.
AC Rotten – Phone Case
8. What is the one thing in your studio you could not live without?
Liquitex spray paint. It’s the most amazing thing and changed the way I do my backgrounds for my dioramas. I’ve never been a huge painter with a brush and started out using mainly paper for everything which presented a lot of problems – it was hard to find larger pieces in the color I wanted and that didn’t have a sheen that would reflect my lighting in the photographs. And most normal spray paint out there is pretty limited on colors and generally has a sheen, too (and as I’m very sensitive to chemicals I would always get sick while using it). I finally found Liquitex
spray paint which is acrylic based so it’s almost odorless and has a matte finish. And their selection of colors is amazing.
9. Do you collect anything?
I have a huge collection of antique, polaroid, and toy cameras. I finally had to cut myself off as I ran out of space to display them. I have a lot of family ones in the collection, too, that mean a lot to me. My favorite is a vintage Ricolet that my grandfather brought back with him from the Korean War. I’ve always had sentimental attachments to family heirlooms and it means a lot to me that it ended up in my hands.
10. What is your favorite word and why?
Awesome. I use it way too much. It’s even ended up in the title of my book and calendar
11. What is your favorite recipe?
I have a huge sweet tooth, but one thing I’ve always hated is chocolate. This was a recipe my mother used to make special for me when I was little since I loved cookies, but didn’t want chocolate in them like everyone else in our house. It’s super simple, but delicious.
Coconut Oatmeal Macaroons
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. margarine
2 c. quick cooking oatmeal
2 c. flour
1 c. coconut
1 c. corn flakes
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
Mix ingredients together. Drop by teaspoon onto a well greased cookie sheet. Bake 325 degrees for 10 minutes.
12. Do you “Give Back” to any organizations?
Up until about a year ago this job was more of just a side hobby that I never thought would turn into anything so I wasn’t really in a position to be able to do anything to really give back other than donations for local shelters to help with fundraising. Now that it’s become profitable we’re looking into doing work with a local no-kill cat shelter here in Milwaukee, but nothing is finalized at this point.