We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Koenig and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
I was lucky enough to have parents who unwaveringly supported my passion for art and decision to grow that passion into a career. As I have had the honor to become a parent myself, I have thought a lot about what that support has done for me and how I can nourish the dreams and happiness of my own children. The most valuable thing that I believe I can teach my children is that their minds are so very powerful and their thoughts can help manifest the life of their dreams. I don’t mean for this to sound “woo woo”. On the contrary, I believe it is a pretty basic philosophy. This idea is why my parents’ support of my art career was never forced. They believed in me simply because I believed in myself and had the confidence that one day my dreams would come true. My mom and dad trusted that my passion was so deeply rooted that any thoughts that surrounded my artistic goals would be positive and would help me along my path as an artist. I hope that I can instill the same mindful power within my kids and that I can offer them the same love and nourishment that was offered to me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am an acrylic realism still life painter who is beginning to explore surrealism as well. A professional art career has been a dream of mine since childhood, but I thought that becoming an illustrator would be a more financially secure career choice. After graduating from Savannah College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration, however, I soon began to realize that I didn’t love freelance work and I missed painting. With encouragement from my mom, I began building up a body of work and exhibiting at art festivals. Pursuing an art career is never easy and takes a lot of grit and perseverance. I think the art world looks very black and white to the outside world. I used to think you could become very well known and successful or be a “starving artist”, but I realize now that there is a huge middle ground where you can find success and be comfortable. I used to believe the myth that you can “make it” in the art world, as if there is some finish line to cross. but the great thing about being an artist is that there is no finish line. We are constantly changing and growing, experimenting with our ideas and materials. We would grow bored as creatives and would be boring to our audiences if that was not the case.
When I was 28 years old in 2016, I was told that I had an aggressive form of breast cancer. I learned this one day before setting up for the my first art festival of the 2016 season and had to undergo testing in the morning before heading to my booth to sell my work. I had 16 rounds of chemo and a double mastectomy that year. I was lucky to have my art to help me through treatment. Now, I have been cancer free for five years and try my hardest not to take things for granted.
When something feels challenging in my career, I remember that I have faced bigger challenges and I can only always do my best to overcome them.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I live in the suburbs of Pittsburgh, about thirty minutes south of the city. I was born and raised here and love that it’s close to downtown, but I am still able to enjoy hidden gems and greener spaces closer to my home. The view of downtown from a couple of famous spots, such as The Monongahela or Duquesne Incline, is a must-see. It is also fun to see the city on foot, where you can walk across the Roberto Clemente bridge, just one of the bridges in the city with the most bridges in the world. Touring the city by river on the Gateway Clipper is a casual and relaxing outing. Pittsburgh has great museums, at the top of which are The Warhol Museum.and the Carnegie Museum of Art and Natural History. For a delicious dinner with my favorite cuisine, sushi, I would head to Mola. Another truly unique dining experience can be found at Spork, where dishes are as creative and beautiful as works of art. Though seeing the city is fun, I prefer to spend my time in nature. I enjoy taking walks or going for a run on the Montour Trail, which used to be a rail line. Exploring a nearby park or spot like Peters Lake with a hike and a picnic is a great way to spend an afternoon.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout would definitely have to go to my mom. My mom has supported me physically and emotionally in all aspects of my life. She has shown me what it means to be an incredibly kind and caring person who shows love to everyone she meets. Not only is she kind and warm, but she is incredibly strong as well. It takes a special person to be able to be soft, yet strong, and there is no one else like her. From sharing my artwork with acquaintances to helping me set up at art festivals before sunrise, she has been there for me in every way. I would not be the woman, mother, or artist I am today without her.