Kickstarter: Interview with Artist Katie Wadley (dorkbait)

katie wadley, 2017

katie wadley, 2017You might know artist Katie Wadley from her three successful Kickstarter campaigns, two of which were compilations of her Bucky Barnes centric Inktober series. Or you’ve seen her work in Raw, the Hannibal fanwork anthology, and more recently the Steve Rogers/Bucky Barnes fanwork anthology, Not Without You. She has a new Kickstarter for a Marvel Cinematic Universe artbook, miegakure, which wraps early this week, so I asked her a few questions about her Kickstarters and work.

This is your fourth artbook Kickstarter. What inspired you to do a printbook on the first place?

Honestly it hadn’t occurred to me at all until my first round of completing Inktober in 2015. The text I’d been including at the bottom of my illustrations evolved into a narrative, and with that came several inquiries about whether I would be printing a book. When I was in college, my senior project was an illustrated book of short stories; the idea of having my creative work printed in book form is something that’s always appealed to me. My work has always had sort of a symbolic or narrative quality to it, so I think it benefits from being seen grouped together in book form, and, of course, there’s a pleasure to holding the work as a physical object.

What have you learned since your first Kickstarter, both about Kickstarter and going fulltime/professional with your art?

Probably the first and most important thing, in answer to both of those questions, is to give myself more time than I think I’m going to need. One of the biggest dangers in working for yourself is overextending, and a huge part of my learning process in becoming a full-time freelance illustrator has been understanding how to maximize my productivity while still being kind to myself and acknowledging my own humanity. If I always hated working long hours when I was in retail, why would I force myself to work long hours as an artist? It’s important physically, mentally, and emotionally to give yourself breaks, to have a community of those who support your work, and to maintain interests outside your work.

Can you tell me a little about your painting process and using traditional materials?

I learned to draw and paint using traditional tools and it was a long journey to get to where I am today in terms of mixed media. I didn’t have access to a computer capable of doing digital art until I was around fifteen or sixteen, so I’ve always just been more comfortable with traditional media. I generally work on watercolor paper, usually hot press, although lately I’ve been getting a little more into using cold press as well. I start with a graphite drawing of varying complexity, then add a wash of watercolor and work in the rest using a mixture of acrylic and concentrated watercolor. I use graphite, ink, pen, and colored pencil to add detail and depth. Most of my black and white or inktober stuff is done using black India ink. And lately I’ve been getting back into just doing graphite drawings again. Whatever it takes to keep my approach feeling fresh.

Do you think you’ll continue doing Avengers/MCU inspired work? What comes after this book?

It’s hard for me to answer this question in any kind of definitive way, but I guess the best answer I can give is that I don’t feel like I’m finished saying everything I have to say about Bucky yet. For me there’s always been a sense of completion when I’ve worked through whatever it is that compels me to make work about a certain character, and with the MCU I just don’t feel that. In a strange way, the more frustrated I am with the canon of the movies, the more driven I am to persist. As for what comes after, Inktober is in about two months (gulp). And I do plan on doing an Inktober series again this year.

I’m interested in your thoughts on commerce and fandom, and selling fanworks. Could you get into that?

I get asked frequently how I “get around” copyright in terms of selling my Marvel fanart. My answer to that has to do with the idea of transformative work; if work is transformative, that is to say, changes some significant aspect of the copyrighted work, commercial fair use is allowed. One of the ways a work can be transformative is if it offers something that the original copyrighted material doesn’t. My work deals with mental health, identity, vulnerability, and queerness, and I think it’s safe to say that if Marvel offered products where their big-name heroes actually and seriously dealt with those issues, people would buy them. But Marvel doesn’t offer those things, and so my work provides it instead. I guess one of my biggest hopes is that the people involved in producing major commercial media do take notice that there’s a paying audience for that kind of content.

More of Wadley’s work can be found on her Patreon and Tumblr, and her Kickstarter ends Tuesday, August 1st.

Kat Overland

Kat Overland

Small press editor Kat Overland is a displaced Texan now living in Washington, DC, where she is perpetually behind on reading her pull list. She's a millennial, Latina, exhausted, and can often be spotted casually cosplaying America Chavez and complaining.