interview Jorge Perezchica
From murals, to graphic design, festival installations and music videos, Katherine Bingley aka Katbing has appeared in unexpected places with quirky characters and a warm color palette. When she used a white trash receptacle as a canvas because she forgot her sketchbook and turned it into a work of art, I couldn’t help but take notice. As I browsed through her image gallery on social media, I found a familiar work painted at Bart Lounge, a popular bar+art hangout in my hometown Cathedral City, CA. At first glace, viewers can glean a sense of the artist’s personality pervade throughout her work, composed with humor, imagination and curiosity. Katbing says, she is inspired by the people around her and how ridiculous life is. The artist is usually asking questions about why things are the way they are. Sometimes it’s more therapeutic.
JORGE: Can you tell us about yourself, where you grew up and your art background?
KATBING: I grew up mostly in San Dimas, CA and was back and forth between Sacramento and Pasadena for a while. I was really into skateboard art in elementary school and Jr. high and I’d make copies of World Industries, Toy Machine etc. stickers for my friends’ to put on their binders. In high school, I took two years of art and it was always my favorite class, but I had no idea it’d lead anywhere. After working retail jobs and being back and forth with community colleges, I finally decided I was going to make graphic design my career because it sounded like a practical living that incorporated art. Even though I kind of hate design sometimes, I realized recently that it made me a much better and more patient illustrator and painter. Also, knowing adobe software helps me with proposals for murals and installations hard core.
JORGE: When we met at Coachella, you mentioned that you forgot your sketchbook, so then you started drawing on the cardboard recycle bins at the festival. What were the reaction and feedback you got?
KATBING: I was sitting in the one of the beer gardens before my merch shift and I was all ready to sit down, drink a beer and do some doodling in my sketchbook. When I realized I didn’t have it in my backpack, I just started looking around for some paper and I saw those white cardboard box trash cans and I was like fuck yaaa perfect. This was the first one I sharpie’d up. I dragged it off to be side of the beer garden and started drawing on it. A couple of security guards were standing around shootin the shit n one of them was talking about the festival goers and how some of them were beautiful and some, not so much — to which the older security guard responded, “Everybody got a lil beauty in em.” So I wrote it on the box and when I turned it around, the guy saw it and loved it. So I asked his name and wrote it next to his quote. I think I drew on 7 or 8 trash cans on weekend 2.
JORGE: What was your experience like at Coachella this year overall and working at the merchandise booth?
KATBING: It was BUSY and hot, but I had a great time. Especially the second weekend because I got to see a lot more bands and enjoy the fest and art during the day. And Bonobo and Mitski ruled ass. Holy shit.
JORGE: I love the warm color palette and sense of humor in your work. Where does your inspiration come from? What keeps you motivated as an artist?
KATBING: Thank you! I’m pretty inspired by the people around me and how ridiculous life is. I’m usually asking questions with my work. Why are things the way they are? Why are people the way they are? Why am I the way I am? I guess I’m always trying to find meaning in things and my art is either trying to find an answer or trying to forget that I have so many questions. Sometimes it’s more therapeutic. I’ll draw or paint for myself and it makes me feel like I have a purpose. I love being around people and I always wanna be good to the people around me, and if I’m making art and making myself feel worth something, it makes me more lively to be around and I can be more interested in the lives of others and make my people feel good about themselves. I ask myself the, “why do I make art” question all the time and it always comes back to this, “It makes me feel good,” which makes me a pleasant person to be around. Because if I’m happy, I can make others happy.
JORGE: You work in various mediums from, illustration, grahic design and painting murals. What is the creative process for each?
KATBING: I started illustrating with ink and color pencil while I was getting my degree in graphic design. I was tired of all the rules of design and I needed an outlet where I could make art on my terms and get messy. Eventually, I started drawing with fancy markers and it became more than just doodling. A lot of the time, I illustrate with the intention of it becoming something bigger. So I’ll draw with marker on paper then transfer the design onto a huge canvas or wall. For murals, I use house paint, roller brushes and paint pens. I love doin murals. Let me paint one for you.
JORGE: How would you describe your artwork and personal style?
KATBING: I’d describe my art as playful and colorful and cartoonish and obnoxious with some interwoven themes of anxiety and depression and cynicism. Does that make sense? Abstract? It’s abstract.
JORGE: I actually first noticed one of your murals at Bart Lounge about 2 years ago, but didn’t have the artist name attached to it. I’ve always liked your style and I’m glad I finally got to meet the artist. Can you tell us a bit about that piece and how the mural came about?
KATBING: My awesome friend Michael Murphy, was about to open his new bar/arcade/gallery, Bart Lounge in Palm Springs and when he asked me to paint a mural, I was super excited. Michael’s an amazing artist with great taste, so I was pretty thrilled about this one. He picked out one of my illustrations on Instagram and asked me to do something like it on the wall. I’m so honored to have a mark in Palm Springs next to Michael’s awesome murals and a bunch of other incredible artists.
JORGE: I notice reoccurring motifs in your work such as faces and fish. What do these mean to you and how do you use them to express your ideas in your art?
KATBING: I started drawing the fish a few years back while listening to “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi” by Radiohead. I remember I was at my friend Alex’s apartment and we were listening to it on vinyl- because we’re that cool- and I was doodling and the weird fishes with human- ish faces just looked so cool to me. I’m pretty sure it was Alex’s idea, but don’t tell her that. The weird fish is kind of one of my symbols now. I’ve made stickers, got a tattoo, I even painted one at a bar/hostel in Cambodia.
JORGE: What are some of the challenges and benefits artists face today as compared to the past, before the internet and social media?
KATBING: Well Van Gogh didn’t have Prozac or social media, so that’s a bummer. Instagram and Facebook have been so so helpful for me. I get inspired by other artists all the time. I can communicate with other artists, I feel validated when I get a shit ton of likes and so many opportunities have come out of having an internet presence. Sometimes it’s overwhelming though because I’m just a small fish in this huge social media art world and I worry that I might not have the thing that sets me apart. BUT that’s when I try to remind myself that I’m doin this art thang for me and fuck everything else. Sometimes it works.
JORGE: Can you tell us a bit about one of your favorite projects your working on or completed?
KATBING: Favorite project so far was an 8x8x8 foot box installation at Music Tastes Good Festival in Long Beach. It had faces on each side singing lyrics to songs by artists performing at the festival (Warpaint, Iron & Wine, dr. Dog and the specials). It was quite a process, from the initial mock up proposal to meetings with the art director of the festival and budget proposals. It made me realize that I can really do anything if I get the right resources. I look forward to going even bigger with future installations.
JORGE: What direction do you see yourself going as an artist 5 to 10 years from now?
KATBING: BIG. And all over the world. Stay tuned.
JORGE: What are you currently working on?
KATBING: I’m painting an acoustic guitar for a friend and I’m working on some mural and installation mock ups for upcoming events.