Katty Huertas is a multidisciplinary artist born in Colombia and based in Washington DC. She holds an MFA from MICA.
Her work explores identity, folklore, and double standards, among other subjects. She likes combining analog and digital mediums.
Her work has been featured by Adobe, Creative Review, Creative Boom, Behance, Bored Panda, Tumblr, VSCO, 21Wallpaper, and Booooooom. She previously worked at Nickelodeon as part of the Launch Team and at NBC News as an editorial designer for TODAY. Currently, she's a designer and art director at The Washington Post.
In this interview, Katty tells us about how she fuses together analog and digital processes, the work that makes her most proud, and the importance of putting your art out there—even if it isn’t perfect!
You are very multitalented—working in painting, illustration, animation, and design. What inspired you to work in such a diverse range of media? What medium did you start out working in?
Drawing is the base and root of everything I do. It was the first creative thing I did when I was growing up. I remember coloring and envying a big color box set one of my cousins had. After that it became painting and since then I’ve never stopped. Painting was my first art love, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only one. As time passed I became curious about other mediums. I don’t believe artists have to pick just one to focus on. I see each medium as a skill to add to my toolkit to be able to better express myself; not all ideas will lend themselves to a similar execution.
What brought you to Washington D.C.?
I’m originally from Colombia and lived in Miami for a couple of years before moving to the DMV area. I graduated from my MFA from MICA in Baltimore, which is not too far from DC. While the plan was to move to NYC after grad school, the pandemic changed that a bit and my husband and I decided to stay in DC.
I love that you fuse together analog and digital mediums. Can you talk a bit about your process?
Yes! My process varies every time depending on what the piece needs but I often feel projects can benefit from working across mediums. An example of this would be printing my digital drawings and animating them on paper thorough AR. I also love adding digital animation on top of painted canvas, the result is very unique. It all comes back to the idea of not letting myself be constrained to be able to let my imagination roam freely.
For my thesis project I painted leaves on wood, scanned them, and converted them into 3D leaves to be able to place them through AR on the analog sculpture.
Whether it be for your personal work or your work for clients, what would you say is the common thread that runs throughout your creative practice, tying it all together?
I love detail, I could spend hours drawing the hairs on someone’s head, and I think that comes across both in my personal and professional work. I also like what I put out in the world to lift up voices and represent people that have not been portrayed as much, so every time I get the opportunity to include characters I try to feature women of color. Regardless if it’s personal or client work, I also try to infuse my culture and myself in everything I do.
I love your painting series SELF-ISH, which seems deeply psychological. Are these paintings self-portraits? Emotionally, what do they reflect?
They are all self-portraits, some are more literal and some are more conceptual. I painted these while I was finding myself having recently immigrated from Colombia. I wanted to convey that we all convey multitudes and play with the notions of what we’re expected to be and what we’re seen at.
You’ve worked with some pretty well-known clients, such as Adobe, Disney and HBO Max. Can you tell us about a specific project you worked on for a client that you especially enjoyed?
I love working with clients that let me use my visual voice and that hire me because of my style. A standout project from last year was creating the key art for Disney Plus’ Diary of a Future President. I love what the series represents and illustrating the story of a girl from Miami that eventually becomes the first woman president was a dream.
Collaborating with HBO Max for the launch of Pa’lante was also great since I got to work alongside great Latinx artists and also got to see my drawings come to life through animation. That project was celebrating my culture so I couldn’t feel more prouder of it.
How did you turn your artistic talent and passion into a full-time job? What advice would you give to artists who are trying to market their work to clients?
It all started with my first commission, which came serendipitously. Before I knew that what I was doing could turn into a career, I was posting everything I made (good and bad) to Flickr and Tumblr. I believe that’s where the first art director I worked with saw my work. That first commission opened my eyes to the possibility of what my future could look like. My advice to anyone wanting to start is to not be too precious with what you make. Don’t wait for it to be perfect to share it, just do it. If you wait for perfection, you might as well never share what you make. Putting yourself out there is the only way to make your dreams happen, you never know who might see your art and believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.