Meet the Artist. The place where I introduce YOU to an artist through a "virtual" interview. Our featured artist is Cat Coquillette, an artist extraordinaire.
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and you purchase an item from this blog, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Who are you and what is your background?
Hey there! My name is Cat Coquillette and I’m an artist, entrepreneur, educator, and the founder of CatCoq, which is my art and education brand. I started my career in the design agency world and now, I’m working for myself as a commercial artist and educator.
After years of building up my side-hustle, I finally made the leap into entrepreneurship in 2016. In the years since then, I’ve grown my company as I travel the world full-time as a “digital nomad”. My office changes daily, but it’s usually in a coffee shop, co-working space, or Airbnb somewhere in the world.
My brand is split between art licensing and education. I teach others how to do exactly what I’m doing on a day-to-day basis: earn an income through art licensing, grow their brand using social media marketing, paint with watercolors and acrylics, edit artwork digitally, create patterns for surface design, and more. My classes teach a mix of creative and business skills.
My artwork and designs can be found worldwide in stores including Urban Outfitters, Target, Barnes & Noble, Modcloth, Nordstrom, Bed Bath & Beyond, and more. I’m a keynote speaker for entrepreneur and design conferences around the world and my writing, interviews, and design work have been featured by Forbes, CNN, US Weekly, Teen Vogue, Buzzfeed, and The New York Post.
What is your favorite medium?
I tend to rotate my artwork between about five or six different mediums. My two favorites at the moment are painting by hand with watercolors and drawing digital illustrations using the iPad app, Procreate.
Has your practice changed over time?
When I first began seeing success as an artist, I was painting a lot of botanical watercolors and brush-lettered words of wisdom surrounded by floral wreaths. That style worked very well for me back in my early days– 2014.
Since then, my style has adapted along with market trends. I still incorporate typography and florals, but my illustration style has evolved. I like retro-inspired fonts or blocky hand-lettering with bold color palettes and cheeky quotes.
I’ve also expanded my motifs. When I was getting started, I preferred to paint non-cuddly creatures: cicadas, beetles, snakes, crabs, moths, and the likes. I steered away from anything with a face because I wasn’t confident enough to attempt facial features. Now, I’ve leaned into my own personal style and embraced painting mammals like pandas, bunnies, squirrels, foxes, otters, and other animals that I love. Bring on the cute eyes and button noses!
What do you most enjoy painting?
For me, painting is an indulgent activity, like relaxing in a bubble bath or curling up on the couch with a good book. When I get out my watercolors and set out a blank piece of paper, I’m entering self-care mode.
What is the strongest memory of your childhood?
I remembered the exhilaration I felt when I tore away the wrapping paper of a Christmas present to unveil an art easel, which came with a huge pack of assorted markers.
The markers were scented according to their color, so they smelled like blueberry, mint, black licorice, buttercream, etc. After my parents helped me set up the easel with an oversize notepad of blank paper, I got started drawing.
Instead of choosing my colors based on accuracy, like the sun is yellow and the grass is green, I picked colors based on what smelled good together. This resulted in color combinations like chocolate and cherry with a dash of banana for a drawing of an elephant, instead of a standard grey that I probably otherwise would have chosen.
Ultimately, it was a means for me to break away from preconceived notions of color choices and explore something entirely different.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
My first job was at a paint-on-pottery studio when I was sixteen. I was a pretty terrible employee– I spent most of my time painting on the ceramics products I was supposed to be selling, so after a few months, I was canned.
The experience taught me that having a passion for my career is important, but so is being a good businesswoman. I could spend all day, every day painting, but that wouldn’t pay my salary unless I have a solid strategy for monetizing and growing.
The reason my business is successful is that I’ve found a way to blend both together.
What food, drink, or song inspires you?
I went through a phase of painting my favorite foods and sweets. It was a fun project and resulted in a few collections that landed my work in Target, Barnes & Nobel, HomeGoods, and a few more.
What has been your favorite response to your work?
It’s always a compliment to see my artwork hanging in someone’s home, but teaching is what gives me a deep sense of purpose. My personal fulfillment comes from hearing from my students and reading the reviews they leave on my online classes.
When someone reaches out to tell me that I’ve helped them gain confidence in their artwork, or overcome a creative or entrepreneurial challenge, I feel like I’ve actually made a difference in someone’s life. This is the ultimate compliment I could ever receive and it’s what drives me to continue pursuing education.
All of my classes are online, which means I don’t have one-on-one time with any of my students while I’m teaching. Instead, I’m talking to a camera, which means I lose out on the intimacy and connection you get when conversing with someone face-to-face. So ultimately, when I hear from my students or read their class reviews. I feel a sense of connection. I enjoy painting and will always be creating artwork, but teaching is my purpose and my future.
Professionally, what is your goal?
Global art domination.
But more realistically, I’d like to be able to regularly purchase first-class tickets for my family to visit me, wherever I am in the world. That’s my next financial milestone for my business. Not only does it mean more comfortable travel for my parents, but it also signifies that my company is doing exceptionally well.
More milestones I’d like to reach within the next few years:
1. I’m currently writing my first book and would love to get it published.
2. Teaching is a passion of mine and I’d like to grow my online classes. At this very moment, I’ve just launched my eighteenth Skillshare class and am hoping to hit 20 by the summer.
3. I’d love to design special-edition packaging for a cosmetic or skincare line. Because of my background in branding, I’m a sucker for well-designed packaging. Even though my daily face routine is usually just moisturizer and mascara, I collect cosmetics that I rarely use just because I adore the packaging.
4. I want to get involved with more cause-related partners. More specifically, I’d like to focus on foundations that help animals, children, women, or aspiring entrepreneurs.
What is your best piece of advice for someone who wants to get started as an artist?
Stop procrastinating and put yourself out there! I’ve met so many creatives who aspire to support themselves through their artwork but are terrified of failure, so they don’t take the first step. Everyone starts somewhere.
Also, explore various avenues and find what works best for you. One person’s success won’t be the answer for everyone. Once you find your jam and hit your stride, capitalize on that momentum and hustle hard.
Thank you so much, Cat. My readers are grateful that you took time out of your busy schedule to share your art, your talent, and your myriad of amazing adventures from which you find your inspiration.
Readers, be sure to check Cat's website: Catcoq.com
Check her blog: Cat's blog
Redbubble: Cat Coquillette
Zazzle: Catcoq Gifts
Visit all the MEET THE ARTIST posts
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you click on the link and you purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
Home decor wall art from Cat Coquillette
Head Case Designs by Cat Coquillette