Issue 24 cover artist Catie Lewis is discovering herself in her paintings.
We first met Catie in 2018, right after she moved to Austin. Catie submitted her digital portraits to Issue 15 and sold her signature continuous line products at our release party.
Now, three years later, her art is on the cover. It’s work that has touches of her old style, but truly is completely new. It’s her most personal work to date, each painting a glimpse of self-discovery and preservation of her Filipino culture.
We interviewed Catie for Issue 24: “Worth It.” to learn more about her recent series.
When did you get into painting?
When I first moved here there was art everywhere–in shows, murals, markets. It was really inspiring. So I started getting back into art as a hobby and I was getting the memo that I needed a creative side hustle.
The first thing that got me into sharing my art was applying to a Frida Friday market and applying for Almost Real Things. Once I signed up, I needed more art to submit so it kept me on a role.
Your digital work was featured in Issue 15, but you’re more into painting now?
I started with digital art but I fell into line drawings. It took me a while to really believe I could do portraiture.
When I look back at my stuff, it’s a little all over the place. But I feel like it was necessary to try everything, especially when I was teaching myself.
Now I feel like my skills are where I need to be and I’m able to pull off the ideas in my head.
With all of the sacrifices, what’s the reward of being a full time artist?
I feel like I get to really look at my art practice as a real job. No one in my life did it full time as a career until I met people in Austin.
Now I know how to treat it as a career. There’s no end. I’m going to be painting until I die and that’s exciting. It makes failure easier to deal with because you’re in it for the long haul. There will always be a payoff because you’re developing your skill.
What do you sacrifice?
My sanity at times. Even when you are super successful it’s frustrating.
I always worked 2-3 jobs and the paycheck was guaranteed. With art a paycheck is not a given, and it’s not always guaranteed. It is a little bit frustrating but I get to wake up and do whatever I want each day.
I’d rather have peace of mind. Even if I’m not making money, I’m still building something.
What value do you add to the community?
I hope I’ve added some fun energy and diversity. I feel like I’ve made so many friends in different art spaces here so I hope I’ve left an impression on all those spaces.
Can you share more about the pieces featured on the cover?
The paintings on the cover are what I want to get into. It’s a mix of portraiture, symbolism and natural elements. These pieces are really special because the research that when into them. It took over a year.
The back story is that I was born in Philippines and adopted. I know my birth family but because I was raised apart from that culture, I’m still learning myself what it means to be a Filipino and about the culture and native heritage. Because I’m doing research in my own life, I’m learning through the art that I’m making.
The pieces are for me. I see myself in the characters.
In the entire series, every painting includes a native animal, tattoos and clothing related to different regions in the Philippines. You have to dive into it. I think a huge part of the pieces on the cover are art that I haven’t seen and that I want to make.
“Because I’m doing research in my own life, I’m learning through the art that I’m making.”
Do you have any advice for emerging artists?
Even if you’re not full time, you’re still a valid artist.
As long as you’re creating, that’s what’s important. Pour yourself into your practice, especially if you view it as long term. Pour as much as you can into your work. That goes into creating your work but also immersing yourself in the community and supporting other artists.
Do every facet of what it means to be an artist for you. I’m a firm believer in, everything will work out.
Support Catie & follow her on Instagram.