A Kat and her iPad: How this digital artist got her start

Kat Rahmat went from doodling on an iPad to becoming a full-time artist

From brand consultant to artist: Malaysian-born Khatijah Rahmat, or as she likes to be known, 'Kat' has had an interesting journey. It began with an iPad and, of course, an app.

 

When asked how she started out with the iPad, Kat said: "My husband's the techie, he's a big Apple fan."

"We had a big laugh over the doodle I made with my finger," she said. But after seeing how quickly her "doodles" would get responses after sharing them on social media, Kat was hooked.

Saying she knew little proper about art or drawing prior to getting serious with the iPad, she found the experience exhilarating. "It's as if you've found a new room in a house you've lived in all your life...and the idea that an entire universe of potential opened up to me, well, I've never felt anything quite like it."

Kat's work is primarily inspired by cats, along with a lot of Malaysiana - traditional motifs and the occasional nod to nostalgia, with a dash of whimsy and a style all her own.

On her art inspirations (besides cats), Kat said that when it came to illustration, the task is really simple: "How do you make something charming enough to get a reaction of delight from people?" Which is why she says she loves drawing for kids. "Not only are they so honest, they really appreciate simplicity, and are so much more appreciative of the creative process and result."

While she started out on digital and concedes it is easier ("Your mistakes can be erased at any point"), she makes the effort to use tactile drawing materials as well.

"It's important to have equal exposure from both worlds, because you want to be more sensitive to what you observe around you.

"At the same time, (you need to) have enough of a fluency in the way images work digitally, because that's where we spend most of our consciousness in."

 

Her main tool is the app Paper by FiftyThree. "It does exactly as its name suggests: it performs like paper, and has pen, pencil, and watercolour options." Kat found it to be incredibly intuitive, portable and user-friendly.

"Its user-friendliness gave me courage to draw, and now my entire life is about art." She also credits FiftyThree for its being incredibly supportive of her work. "They regularly feature my pieces and even gifted me with their recent innovation, the Pencil, when I opened my (online) shop." Kat hopes to one day work with the firm on children's book created entirely on Paper.

Kat's art progressed far enough on Paper that she even used the app to create her portfolio to apply to arts school. She recently received her Postbaccalaureate from the Tufts School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She'll be continuing her academic journey in the arts this October, as she will be starting a Master of Fine Arts at The Ruskin School of Drawing and Fine Art, Oxford University.

It's not easy juggling the many things she has in her life - from part-time work in advertising, to her personal fine art projects as well as collaborations as well as research and writing, Kat says the goal she has now is just "to wake up as early as I can and prioritise." She plans to launch a series of products small-scale, mainly notebooks, bags and t-shirts but the long-term goal is a career in illustration, fine arts as well as writing.

To see and purchase Kat's work, check out her website, Kat Draws Cats where she sells prints of her work. "They're printed and shipped to order, all the way from California on archival paper, made to last."

You can also follow Kat on Facebook here.