The Ghost Kat
Art often whispers in the shadows, hidden within the crevices of our hearts and bodies, pleading to be known as an embellishment to the world around us.
Kate’s penmanship is subtle, as it screams to the power of observative vulnerability. Kate – known for her brand, The Ghost Kat – is an entrepreneur amongst the waves of a new sea of fluid creativity. She is a fine artist, a tattoo artist, a clothing designer, and a writer. Her art is nomadic, and walks with the souls that her pen graces. Her lifestyle embraces the superimpositions of the creative expression she wears on her sleeve. Her disposition is calming, and her art is her compass into humanity – to disassociate, to balance, to restore, to find, and to connect.
1883 Magazine chats with Kate, AKA The Ghost Kat, about her creative process, how other works of art influence others, and more.
How would you describe yourself under the umbrella of being a ‘creative?’
Being a ‘creative’ for me is really just me being myself. Creativity exists in every aspect of my life and is just who I am at my core. I’m lucky that I get to do something creative for my job/career, but I think that the definition of a ‘creative’ should not be limited to those who turn their creativity into a career… Being a ‘creative’ for work doesn’t necessarily mean always being creative anyway. It’s equal parts left and right brain when it comes to running a business out of your own art. That being said, I play around in a lot of different creative endeavours, some that make me money, and some that don’t. It’s such a large – and fun – umbrella.
You have noted you have been working through the process of letting go of what wasn’t meant for you, to surrender to what is to come? Can you expand on the emotional and cognitive process of surrendering and what prompted the shift in mindset?
I think to evolve in life we have to always be open to change. At least that’s what’s worked for me so far. Things are constantly shifting and changing. For myself, I correlate a lack of change with a lack of growth, so I try not to hold onto anything too tight. Back in June, I made the decision to go on this journey to create my first art collection. I closed my tattoo studio in LA, moved out of my home, and put everything in storage. I didn’t really feel like I had a choice. It was like the universe was screaming at me to do it. I was definitely grasping onto a life that didn’t serve me anymore and I knew in order to take the next step in my life and career, I had to let it all go. It was a combination of a place, a relationship, and a lifestyle that needed to be put in the past. Everything kind of came to a head at once so I jumped head first into this journey. It wasn’t necessarily a change in mindset because I always knew this was coming, it was just a matter of harnessing the courage to let go.
What was the first piece of art that inspired you?
I wasn’t exposed to much art throughout my childhood, but the first piece of art I vividly remember speaking to me was ‘Breton Girls Dancing’ by Gauguin. I didn’t know who Gauguin was or anything, but I had a children’s book my grandfather had given me with the painting as a part of the story. In the book, the character Katie runs through a museum chasing her dog and goes into the paintings. It’s funny because as I grew older and began to study art a bit, Gauguin became one of my favourite artists in adulthood as well. I guess I was on to something back then.
What was the first piece of art that you created that drew you to the life of an artist?
I don’t think there was ever one piece of art I made that drew me to the life of an artist. Drawing and creating art as a whole have always been a part of my life. I started drawing when I was 2, basically ever since I learned to hold a pencil. I think being an artist was just who I was innately rather than a cognitive choice.
Can you tell me about how you first started your tattoo studio? What is the most meaningful lesson you’ve taken away from creating individual pieces for such intimate experiences?
The beginning of my tattoo studio is quite a long story. It kind of fell into my lap and I decided to follow it. At the beginning, everything happened pretty organically. I fell in love with the idea of being able to put my drawings from paper onto skin, and that’s really what drove me to chase it. Four studios in four different cities later, I’ve learned extensively about human interaction through working with such a wide variety of humans. It’s definitely broadened my social intelligence. It’s hard to pinpoint the biggest lesson.
One of my most valued takeaways is learning how to connect with just about anyone. Working with people one-on-one in such intimate settings will teach you a lot if you’re open to it. Another big takeaway so far is the constant reminder of how precious life is. So many people have come in through the years to get tattooed in honor of someone they’ve lost, so I get to hear a little bit of those stories pretty often. It’s always special to create pieces of that genre while allowing the space to listen and hear about the person we are doing the tattoo in remembrance of.
The Ghost Kat company is a brand of ever-changing mediums. How do your artistic outlets (tattoo, clothing design, sketch art, etc.) complement each other? How do you find creative fluidity within those mediums?
I’m always doing a little bit of everything in regards to creating. It feels like there’s a fluidity between all my work since I’m working with the same ideas and emotions, just plugging them into different mediums. They’re all an extension of me. Out of all the mediums I work with, I think the biggest crossover would be between my writing and my drawing because they’re the two I’ve spent the most time with. What’s unsaid in one is able to be picked up in the other. Some concepts are easier to express through imagery and others through words. I haven’t shared much of my writing with the world yet but I actively write almost every day, sometimes more than I draw. It kind of feels like a puzzle between the two as I bounce from one to the other. Overall, all of the different creative forms I take, whether it be filmmaking, photography, songwriting, tattooing, writing, or drawing – they all bleed into one other.
You’ve mentioned spending time in Charleston. How does your physical setting influence the nature and subjects of your art? Does it change the style of the art or your mindset?
Physical setting plays a huge influence on my art and the way I operate my life. There are definitely certain places that I feel more inspired than others, but that’s not to say that ideas can’t flow from Source anywhere I am. I go where I need to go freely depending on what I’m seeking at the moment. The reason Charleston was mentioned was because this year it’s where I crash-landed after leaving LA and throwing myself full throttle into this art journey. I was only there for a couple of weeks before I started travelling in Europe, but it’s where I initially began to gather my thoughts and ideas for this project. I feel very in touch with God in that city and a lot of the messages and ideas I am conveying through the art I’m working on now were mapped out during the time I spent there this past summer.
You noted that emotions have no permanence, while simultaneously they exist in an unruly, honest, and gentle space in your art. What emotions would you say represent your upcoming art collection?
“There is no permanency to emotions, but art has the ability to carry their weight” was something I wrote in my instagram caption when I announced I was working on this project. It might be one of my favourite things I’ve written because it’s an idea I have been playing with for so long but had never put it into words. Art is where we turn to understand the gravity of emotions we experience as humans – and as an artist, it’s also where we go to place them. To get them out of ourselves. My upcoming project holds such a broad spectrum of emotion – upheaval, grief, sorrow, power, agony, distress, celebration, empowerment, purity, and heartbreak – these are just some of my personal emotions that I am pouring into my pieces, but the emotion they carry will really just be whatever the viewer feels when looking at them. It doesn’t matter what emotion, I just want the intensity of feeling to come through because I feel everything at a magnitude of 10.
You have an incredible talent for fine line art, with detailed sketches that embody realism. Tell me about the influence of physicality in your art.
Physicality plays a major role in my art. In some ways, it’s the very basis of my work – at least in recent years and in many of the pieces I’m working on now. I adore drawing the female figure. I think this enchantment comes from a place of self because it’s what I relate to and who I am: it is true. I typically reference friends of mine or myself when drawing a figure. Many of the reference images I use have a story attached to them. The photograph or the person I am drawing has to speak to me – has to mean something to me – or else I don’t feel inspired to touch it. When I sit down to begin a drawing, the human figure is typically the very first thing I lay down in the composition, and the rest follows. It’s like building an ethereal world around the person. It’s like magic.
You wrote on an Instagram post that read “… To be dramatic, everything has changed, and life is beautiful.” I feel so many innately fear or wildly embrace change. How do you find tranquillity in the midst of a growth period?
Personally, I feel extremely comfortable in chaos. Travelling and moving fast and constantly changing environments feels natural to me, but can definitely be overwhelming at times. It’s the moments of solitude where I get to retreat into my mind that allow me to experience tranquillity. Like sitting on an airplane in silence or checking into a hotel alone and allowing myself those moments to dive into my mind and see what’s going on. That’s usually when I pull out a pencil and a notebook. Writing has always been an anchor to myself in the midst of any growth period.
Learn more about Kate and The Ghost Kat at theghostkat.com.
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