March 8, 2013

Spotlight: Kate Harwitz

Our new staff writer, Erin Kim, spoke with artist Kate Harwitz
 about Adventure Time, making music, and unconventional beauty.

You know that friend of a friend who seems like you could be friends with but you just never get the chance to befriend her? Kate Harwitz was one of those girls to me. Lacking a formal occasion to befriend her, I casually followed this 20-year old California girl’s Instagram. From post-it portraits to bunnies wearing knee socks, her art melds character and fashion effortlessly. I immediately connected to her, from one art appreciator to another. She calls herself an artist since “Drawing and painting is one thing I return to throughout the comings and goings of countless fleeting habits.” After living in Colorado, North and South California, Florida and Beijing, Kate has always held on to multimedia artistic expression. Currently Creative Director of UC Berekeley’s Bare Magazine and recently the illustrator of Milikins, a children’s book collaboration with her father, this style child can’t stop producing art with swag.

THE LE SIGH: You make music, take photos, paint, draw, help direct UC Berkeley’s fashion mag—you are basically a modern Renaissance woman. But which medium of art is your main man?

Kate Harwitz: Drawing is my suga daddy! When I was 8 I sold a painting of a flower and a sun to a taxi driver for a $1. This summer while I was taking a drawing course in London, I sketched a couple of kids and their mom gave me 5 pounds. I feel as if I see the world in shapes and colors and compositions. If that isn’t the definition of a main man I don’t know what is.

TLS: When did you start drawing?

KH: One of my earliest memories is being amazed at my father’s skill in drawing a 3D cube. That must have been when I was around three or four years old. My dad told me if I practiced every day I could get as good as him, and surprisingly I stuck with it. The very first thing I ever drew was probably an arrangement of lines and dots executed in Crayola products. The last thing I drew was my friend as a fat kawaii hamster.

TLS: Big fan of your post-it portraits right here. How do you choose who you want to draw?

KH: I like drawing my friends that have unique styles or interestingly shaped faces – racial ambiguity and unconventional beauty forever! I’m all about linework and colors. When I look at faces I see shadows and lines. Sometimes the subject comes secondary to that.

TLS: What or who is your current muse?

KH: The show Adventure Time. I love the humor, bright colors, and subtle influences from Asian culture. Probably the best darn tootin’ show on the air in the history of ever (in addition to Daria, Cardcaptor Sakura, Pokemon and Parks and Recreation). Did you know Fiona’s dress in the episode Fionna and Cake was taken from Princess Serena’s gown in Sailor Moon? NOW YOU DO.

TLS: Besides your drawings, your eclectic style is also a lovely feast for the eyes. What did you wear today?

KH: Oh god, today was a lazy day. Thrifted Hawaiin print button down with jeggings (elastic waistbands are for winners), pastel blue Nikes, red peacoat, and a clear plastic backpack.

TLS: How do you think your art effects what you wear?

KH: Sometimes I dress like I think I’m a Japanese cartoon character, which is probably not appropriate since I’m turning 21 this year. I really like bold colors and shapes, plus collars and knee socks and full skirts. Gross, it sounds like I have a Technicolor schoolgirl fetish. Wait, maybe I do.

TLS: You’ve got a sweet Soundcloud, too. Are boys really dumb like in your song?

KH: Sadly I’ve had a few experiences with major butt wads, but every now and then there’s a gem. Also, I only seem to be able to write music when I’m in extreme emotional turmoil, so my tunes are mostly about boys being idiotic, smelly, emotionally retarded tool bags.

TLS: What does your desk and wall look like?

KH: My desk is covered with an upside-down panda alarm clock, crayons, some paintings, tubes of paint, a sketchbook, and cat stickers from Korea. My wall is a mini shrine to my best buds, we painted portraits of each other and stuck them up. Also a bunch of post-it doodles.

TLS: What was your favorite art project you’ve ever worked on?

KH: In 10th grade I painted a family portrait of bears in Victorian clothing. I don’t think I’ve ever topped that. It started as a distraction from my main painting project during a summer art class and somehow turned into my main project.

TLS: Are you working on any art projects right now?

KH: I’m casually illustrating children’s books with my dad. A few months ago we released Milikins, a story about a misunderstood (and well-dressed) bunny who’s just looking for some friendship. More books are in the works. Sassy, cute woodland critters are my specialty.

Check out Kate Harwitz on Tumblr and Soundcloud.

Erin Kim, an NYU-happy student, who appreciates all things style and social media related. Previously described as a kawaii Wes Anderson dream girl, she loves lolcats, kind people, and a good story. Sometimes she blogs instead of sleeping.