#ArtdropSpotlight | Kat Melo – Artdrop.shop

#ArtdropSpotlight | Kat Melo

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When we invited Kat Melo to be an artist on Artdrop, we were drawn to the bright and bold colors of her work. With all the pastels and muted tones you see online today - which are beautiful too - it's become quite rare to see primary tones on the forefront. Don't her drawings make you feel a little nostalgic? 

Whether or not it was an intentional endeavor to develop an aesthetic reminiscent of the simpler things from our childhood, Kat Melo's works serve as visual cues to play.

Maybe it's the color, maybe it's the subject matter. But almost all her illustrations remind us to take things lightly and to enjoy the little things. When we found out she started illustrating children's books, it came as no surprise. In fact, it seemed only right that someone who expressed this much fun and lightness in her work would be granted this lovely avenue to share her art and her message through.

On our sixth feature on #ArtdropSpotlight, Kat shares her journey towards her current art practice, her routine, guilty pleasures and what she's been up to these past months.

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A glimpse of the artist's painting process. Photo from Kat Melo.

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First, how did you get into art? Was it something that was present ever since you were little? What led you to your current art style? 

I’m very grateful and privileged to have had a childhood full of DIY art projects, summer workshops, and books. My current style has definitely been shaped by the illustrated children’s books I grew up with. I was captivated by the inventiveness needed to transform simple forms into engaging images. I especially love the beautiful paint strokes and shapes in Eric Carle books! I think the “cut-out” figures, loose textures, and even the subject matter of my works now are echoes of all these influences.

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What are some of the things that didn't happen for you because of the pandemic/ lockdown? How has all of this affected your practice as an artist? 

My first children’s book, Tong, Tong, Tong, Pakitong-Kitong published by Adarna House, was supposed to have a launch event earlier this year. It was a storytelling session with kids but unfortunately it didn’t push through because of the lockdown. It was sad of course, but everyone’s safety is a lot more important!

Now, I try to take our current situation as a chance to learn to better connect with an audience through a digital platform. I’m striving to adapt by absorbing inspiration from daily life, movies and shows, and anything online to develop myself further as an artist.

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It starts with a sketch. Photo from Kat Melo.

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How are you these days? Walk us through your general routine. 

Early on during the lockdown, it took a while took a while for me to adjust. It hasn’t been without challenges but I’m very lucky to have had the support of family and friends. 

Right now I’m doing okay though! I realized that a daily routine helps to stay motivated and balanced. After having breakfast, I make myself some coffee and then water my dying plants. I get to work and put on some music; I find that this is when I’m most productive. When I have time, I squeeze in an online class. Because of the quarantine, I miss being able to learn from colleagues so it’s fortunate there are many online courses available in the meantime. I also try to exercise a few times a week to clear my head; sore muscles are an effective distraction, haha.

What are some guilty pleasures of yours this quarantine - or - which lockdown trends did you try out for yourself? What gives you peace/keeps you sane nowadays?

I admit to trying Dalgona coffee, lol. Ok lang naman siya, workout sa arms!

I’ve also been trying to paint again which I haven’t really revisited since college. While I love my tablet, it did make me miss traditional media and getting my hands dirty. It’s been therapeutic and helped me further develop my personal style. Relearning these things was a breath of fresh air. Also I might have splurged a bit on new canvases, hehe. 

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Kat is also a children's book illustrator! Photo from Kat Melo.

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We noticed you share some children's book illustrations on your Instagram. Could you tell us a little bit about this? Your work seems perfect for it!

Ah, thank you!

As I mentioned my first children’s book just came out and even though the physical launch didn’t push through, it’s now available online at adarna.com.ph! Tong, Tong, Tong, Pakitong-Kitong is a board book for toddlers about the Philippine song we all grew up with. It was honestly a dream project, since I’ve always wanted to illustrate a children’s book! I wanted to push the basic shapes and textures and give life to the iconic rhyme.

Also just recently, I was asked by the Philippine Board on Books for Young People (PBBY) to design and illustrate the poster for this year’s National Children’s Book Day. It was an honor to make this year’s poster since the previous ones were created by illustrators I really admire. This year’s theme is “Sa Pagbabasa, hindi ka nag-iisa” and I wanted to show how books make us feel a little less lonely especially in these times.

 

Lastly, what is this year teaching you? What are some of your notes to self for the rest of the year?

This year is teaching me that it’s understandable to feel anxious about the uncertainty of now. At the same time I realize it’s an opportunity to grow, learn, and restart. In spite of everything, I’m still optimistic about the future.

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See more of Kat's work on Artdrop here. To contact Kat directly, visit her on Instagram.