Teaching English abroad to kids is often a nice gap year away from one’s career and daily routine. In Kat Tzingounakis‘ case though, it helped find her voice as an artist.

“I landed a job as an ESL teacher in Beijing, China teaching pretty cool kids,” the Vancouver-based creative reveals. “I would draw silly characters, anthropomorphised fruits or cartoons of the student on the chalkboard and it made them laugh and helped them understand more, too. It was a way I could break things down and I began to rely on my silly pictures as an educational tool.”

“My illustrations became like a silly parallel world that was much friendlier than the real one. I love work that embodies a child-like quality or vision of the world, like imagination that has run away with itself, or a cartoonish simplification of much more complex subjects.”

Kat’s vibrant colours, movement of line and shape evoke the gamut from humour to frustration, an absurdity to love. Her personal work shows characters experiencing banal situations which “literally warp them”, or animal-like characters displaying different human quirks.

“I think my illustration style reflects magnificent boredom and confusing contentment,” as Kat says. “I draw constantly, and funny characters seem to come out without any premeditation. When I’m making a final version I sketch multiple concepts then paint each piece in gouache, focusing on the feel of it, and scan them to create even greater textures. I still prefer to work mostly traditionally, though, and love the feeling of making a mess with paint and other media.”

Kat’s website declares a love of storybook illustration and Dr Seuss, and it’s no surprise that she would one day love to illustrate a children’s book. In the nearer future, she’d like her art to heal the world a little.

“I have been working on illustrations relating to bees and other pollinators, and I’m really passionate about regenerative farming and would love to contribute to those movements through art.”

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