Interviewing Illustrator Katie Archambault

Updated: Feb 13, 2020

Welcome back to Qamber Kids! We have been blessed to work with many fantastic artists. Today we're excited to introduce our newest illustrator to the team, Katie Archambault. Katie is a Digital Painter and Illustrator from Denver, Colorado. She began creating at a very young age. As a child, books with the largest and most beautiful illustrations impacted her the most. She hopes to create something memorable for future children viewing her work. Today, Katie was kind enough to share a little about her artistic process and passions.

QK: Katie, first off, we wanted to welcome you officially to Qamber Kids! We're so excited to share your work with our extended literary family and appreciate you taking the time to share with us today. To begin, can you tell us about your journey into illustrating and what led you to pursue your passion?

KA: Thanks so much! I’m excited to be here. I’ve honestly been drawing for as long as I can remember. Even on the walls a bit… sorry, Mom.

I’ve always been super critical of my own work, though—and I don’t quite remember this part—but apparently as a kid, I got so frustrated when my drawings didn’t turn out the way I envisioned, that I stopped creating altogether! I couldn’t stay away forever, though, and was right back at it again with new determination before too long.

My friends and family encouraged me every step of the way, and I just kept at it!

QK: Illustration can be as tough a market to break into as the books we help bring to life. As you developed your career, what helped you most?

KA: Luck, I think, haha! From a friend’s advice, I started taking drawing commissions online years ago, and that helped build my portfolio as well as gain a small audience online. But I always feel like it’s luck when the right people find me and push me further down the right path.

QK: We have experienced a similar circumstance time and again while building our network. It's amazing how the right meeting can open the doors you didn't know you needed to go through. We see you favor a mix of traditional and digital mediums in your artwork. Can you describe your technique?

KA: It’s actually all digital! I love that I can use my drawing tablet to emulate so many different styles using brushes and textures. I would say that the techniques I use most closely resemble acrylic, though. I always start with a sketch, paint in basic colors, then slowly shade and detail outward from there using my screen just like a canvas. I’ll occasionally start with a physical pencil on paper sketch, but even the sketches nowadays I draw right on my screen!

QK: Is there a medium you love but don't get a chance to use often in your work?

KA: Oil paint. Real, physical, oil paints. They’re so expensive, I’m afraid to begin to use them!

QK: How long does it take you to complete a project, typically and how do you decide when it is done?

KA: It really depends on how big or complex the project is. The most recent portrait I did of my grandparents (pictured here) took something like 20 hours to complete, but that was a big one! Definitely more a realism piece than an illustrious one.

I decide I’m done when I’ve finally captured the feeling or tone I was going for. Sometimes it takes multiple times of me stepping away for hours and then coming back to finally say something is complete.

For example, in this piece, I didn’t say I was done until I felt like I got the glow on my grandmother’s cheeks right, and I made her eyes crinkle in joy just so. I had a really fun time painting her wavy hair too.

QK: You have such a gift for realism and that piece of your grandparents is fantastic. Any projects from your portfolio you are especially proud of and would like to share?

KA: My favorite piece is a digital painting I did as a gift for my mom in 2016. Her favorite children’s book is Where The Wild Things Are, so I painted a scene of the main character, Max, and one of the monsters relaxing and picking some apples together. She loved it!

QK: We love this! This was the piece we saw that first drew us to reaching out to you about joining the Qamber Team :) While working on so many fantastic projects, have you been inspired to write a picture book of your own?

KA: Oh absolutely. I have some silly in-joke with my brother about wallabies. This piece was actually a gift for his birthday, and may or may not be a sneak peek at a story my boyfriend and I are working on together.

QK: So cute! We look forward to seeing your future book ;) Are there any new projects you're working on that you'd like to share with us?

KA: I’m very excited to already be working on my very first book cover through you guys! Keep an eye out for Out of the Blue by Stephanie Rose Bird when it’s released!

QK: She's not kidding, y'all. This cover is already looking epic and we cannot wait to showcase the book's release! Are there any professional goals that you have not yet reached? What do you see for your future?

KA: I’d absolutely love to have illustration be a full-time career for me. If I could make a living goofing off on a canvas (digital or otherwise), I’d drop the office gig in a heartbeat. Maybe one day!

QK: We hope Qamber Kids can be a big stepping stone to help you make that dream a reality! Before we go, do you have any advice or insight for illustrators who are trying to break in?

KA: Just keep going! Put yourself out there. Make a portfolio and share the link with your friends and family and on social media! You never know who might see your work and what connections you’ll make along the way.

QK: We will second that! Our art and business are ever-evolving, and we're so excited to showcase Katie's part in our journey this coming year. Katie, thanks so much for sharing with us today!

KA: And thank you so much for having me :)

If you enjoyed getting to know Katie and would like to show some Illustrator love, please share or leave a comment below. Thanks for reading today and happy creating, friends!


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