Katherine Diemert // Alumni Q&A
What have you been up to since graduating from the program?
I’ve been trying out a lot of different things! I started freelance after graduating, and despite some successes, didn’t find it fulfilling at the time. So I went looking for a job and ended up at Sago Mini, a smallish studio in Toronto making apps and toys for kids. I’ve been there for three years now, while freelancing on and off. I worked on a variety of things: editorial, made a kids’ book (When Planet Earth Was New), and did some surface designing. I’ve also been keeping up my own artistic practise, drawing and collaging, experimenting more with interactive media, participating in game jams, installations, and making my own products. So a lot of testing, trying to follow my own interests, and seeing what clicks.
What does a typical work day look like for you?
Right now I’m working at Sago Mini, so a large portion of my day is spent at the office. I’m usually working as a lead artist on one of the app projects at Sago. Each app usually takes around nine months to get from concept to launch, and recently I’ve been involved in the decision-making throughout. On a day-to-day basis, I’m working within a small team of developers, animators, play designers, and project managers. There are discussions and check-ins with each other, giving feedback to junior illustrators, and presenting updated work and receiving feedback from the Art Director. One of the most rewarding aspects is meeting and working with so many different, talented people. And of course a large portion of my time is spent on the computer, designing visuals and getting them into the game.
In the evenings I try and chip away on my own projects, working on my practise. I’ve been trying to make time for simply making. I tend to do a lot of thinking and planning, but I’m trying to balance that with actually doing the work! I have my first solo show (a baby one!) this June, so I’m working on making a body of work for that. And I’ve been thinking a lot about what my next steps will be, and trying to dream big. Always, always, trying!
What stands out in your mind as a highlight of your time here at Sheridan?
I loved having the room for experimentation (and being pushed to), trying different media, testing techniques, and learning new programs. I used a lot of the class projects to explore my own interests, such as learning the game engine, Unity. This in particular helped me when I was applying to Sago. But I think that it’s more the mentality that has helped me in the long run: being willing to leap into something unknown and just figuring it out. I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve done it before, so I can do it again.
Sheridan also represents the first time I found a community. And beyond that, helping me learn from my peers, sharing resources and tips, and each others’ successes, and eventually collaborating. In a lot of ways, we all speak the same language.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking to pursue an education and career in illustration?
Look beyond whatever your definition of ‘illustration’ is! Illustration thrives in more than just books and magazines. Boundaries between disciplines, mediums, and platforms are fluid now. But there’s also a ton more visual stuff out there; pay attention to your own tastes and interests.
And always make sure to do the work.