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An Illustrator Discovers Cosmic Realms and Witchy Inspiration

by Gordon Drummond | May 13, 2020

Katherine Butts
Boardman, OH
Associate Degree in Illustration

Illustration major Katherine Butts embarked on journey when she enrolled two years ago in the Illustration program at Sessions College. Like the characters in her in-progress graphic novel “Cosmic Witches,” Katherine encountered many challenges along the way, meeting diverse characters and making unexpected friendships.:) Ultimately, this talented graphic artist won over instructors and advisors with her commitment and talent. We wish this April 2020 graduate every success in her career. Landing on Earth is no easy feat…

Q: Katherine, while you were completing your Illustration degree program you were working on a “Cosmic Witches” comic/graphic novel. What’s the backstory of the novel? Who are the characters and can you describe the world that they live in?

Yes, I was! Cosmic Witches is a story about a group of young witches named Selene, Vye, and Celeste. They love to mess with their magical abilities and so, one day they become too curious and accidentally crash land on Earth. The girls are from a hidden planet called Azon and quickly discover there is more life in their cosmic realms than they thought. Azon is a magical realm and landing on Earth is no easy feat. They encounter many challenges, which includes trying to find a way back home. Along the way they meet many characters and make unexpected friendships, while also finding out that evil can follow you anywhere.

Katherine Butts graphic art Cosmic Witches

Q: Do you consider it to be more of a graphic novel or comic? What are your goals for its final form?

I consider it to be more of a graphic novel and I would love to turn it into a series. Creating multiple adventures and taking their journeys further is my goal. But in the end I feel as if this will turn into a webcomic series, where it could reach the teens and young adult audience and be a continuous story for many to enjoy.

Q: When did you first start drawing? How often do you draw now?

I’ve been drawing since I was a little girl, always designing clothes and new characters. But after a while, my life took a different path and I expressed my artistic desire in different ways through dance and creative hobbies. I forgot what it felt like to illustrate. Since picking it back up in 2017, I’ve fallen in love with it again and now I draw daily. I try to sketch or work on my art pieces everyday at least 30 minutes a day to keep my mind fresh.

Katherine Butts watercolor work

Q: Did did growing up in the Bronx influence your stories/aesthetic? How does where you live now and your daily life influence your work?

Growing up in the Bronx, New York gave me the opportunity to be in a fast-paced environment with lots of inspiration around me. Fashion was always a big part of my life growing up and it inspires a lot of my work. I enjoy creating femininity with a little attitude and I believe it shows in my work. The Cosmic Witches take place in a city and I find my personal background and experiences come in handy when it comes to bringing the story to life.

Q: How do you combine traditional and digital media together in your process? What’s your favorite medium to work with? What’s your studio like?

When starting an illustration I usually sketch quick thumbnails or very sketchy concepts in my sketchbook. It helps my ideas flow faster. After I have gotten a solid concept and I like the pose and idea, I take a photo of the sketch and transfer it to my iPad Pro and work on the line art and final painting digitally with Procreate. At times I draw the line art on my iPad Pro and print it out to redraw on the watercolor paper to create watercolor or ink paintings. There are many ways to utilize traditional and digital mediums together to create a decent work flow. I enjoy digital media the most, but I have been exploring with watercolors lately and I absolutely love them.

Illustration student online studio - Sessions College

My studio is currently in my home, shared with my husband. My studio takes up most the space in there but I have a printer, a Cricut and a lot of art supplies I have gained over the years. It’s my creative space and I love it. There is a wall behind where I sit, filled with other artist prints and stickers I’ve collected so far. It is important to support other artists and creatives.

Katherine Butts - Online art student work, Sessions college

Q: You have used the convention circuit as a way to get you art noticed. What conventions have you been attending (and plan to attend once the quarantine is over?)

Two conventions I recently attended were Steel City Con – Pittsburg, PA and Wizard World Con – Cleveland, OH. My future cons were actually rescheduled due to the quarantine, but they were in Philadelphia, PA. But, I believe they will get pushed to 2021. It has been really tough to deal with the cancellations and rescheduling. And I hope we can get to a new normal where conventions can still happen for all artist and creators around the world. My dream convention has always been NYC Comic Con and some other conventions from Comic Con International. I have applied and I will have to wait and see what happens. But wish me luck!

Katherine Butts - digital illustrations

Projects I am planning include a short-story webcomic series and creating a series of paintings to submit to a gallery. It will take a lot of work and dedication, but it is what I have a drive for at the moment and I want embrace the challenge.

Q: How would you describe your online education experience?

Going to school online was one of the best choices I’ve made for my illustration career. It was affordable and convenient for my lifestyle: a full-time mommy, who home-schools while running a business online, and growing a social media presence! It provided the structure and discipline I needed to push my career forward. It challenged me and it was tough, but I feel so accomplished now. I can’t put it in words the appreciation I feel for my instructors and Sessions College for putting the students first and helping us achieve our goals. Thank you!

To learn more about Katherine Butts, follow her instagram at: instagram.com/nystiquearts or search for her on Pinterest and Behance. Her official website where you can find her work and online store is located at: www.nystiquearts.com. For more information about the AOS in Illustration program, visit the Illustration Degree program page.

Gordon Drummond is the President of a Sessions College, where he is Director of Instructional Design, among many roles. He's passionate about education, technology, and the arts and likes to surround himself with more talented people.