Coloring Her Way Through The Fashion World | Meet Artist kateillustrate

Author: Ali DiEmidio
09.28 / Art

Ekaterina Petropavlovskaia (aka kateillustrate) is quickly rising through the fashion and beauty industry ranks with her beautiful photo illustrations. The Russian artist has made a name for herself with her playful and colorful designs and has already been snagged to work with some of our favorite brands like M.A.C., Uniqlo, and TIGI (to name a few). We caught up with the illustrator extraordinaire to chat about her new makeup and perfume lines, her belief that fashion is a true art, and how an email sent erroneously sparked the opportunity of a lifetime. Check out the interview below.

First of all, sending you a big congrats on the recent launch of your cosmetics line in collaboration with Russian beauty brand Tasha Cosmetics! How did this opportunity come about and how was the process working with Tasha Cosmetics? Any plans for other brand launches in the future?
Thank you so much, it is a very big accomplishment for me. I think almost every girl would die to do something like that, and I managed to accomplish every girl’s dream.

It all started with a mistaken email one year ago! My assistant at the time sent an email to Tasha’s PR-manager about some coffee cups (she got it totally wrong), and in reply, we received a proposal to develop my own line of cosmetics. I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had a meeting with the director of the company one month later and started thinking about products to include, working on the textures of those products, the smells, and finally, the packaging. The ballet inspiration comes from my childhood--I practiced rhythmic gymnastics and choreography for eight years. When I selected the marshmallow smell for the first product--a body cream--I immediately imagined a very refined and airy ballerina sitting on a mountain of marshmallows! Then the idea that ballet could become the main theme for this collection came to me, and all of the other designs were born. It was really exciting working with a brand and being so hands-on; being able to define what the product would be like in the end.

I don’t like talking about the future before it actually happens and I always try to keep launches a secret. But a little while ago I also launched a selective perfume together with a Russian perfume brand, and it’s already a huge success.

You were raised in a household with a father who was a professional painter and a mother who was a fashionista. Tell us a little bit about what it was like growing up in a small Russian town and your journey into fashion, art, and illustration.
I spent my childhood in a small town in Russia, but I always felt there was not enough space for my development there, so I moved to Nizhny Novgorod after school (it’s quite a big city with a population of over one million people). I would move three more times before coming back to Nizhny, where I currently live. After completing my bachelor's degree, I moved to Italy then to Poland and finally to Vietnam. It was in Poland working for Google where I actually started to draw, but I think that the fashion direction was foreshadowed long before that. During my university years I did a lot of modeling, and then I studied in Milan where I was overexposed to fashion. But the biggest influence is for sure my mother--she always told me that fashion is a true art!

You've already made a name for yourself in the fashion world with your particular brand of illustrative art. Tell us a little bit about your creative process. When you're looking for inspiration, to whom and to where do you go?
I believe that every person needs to keep eyes and ears wide open to stay inspired. I get inspiration from many sources: traveling, people around me, clothing, brands, nature, movies, other artists, and so on. I think the most important thing is to push yourself to the limit and stay challenged when you create something. When I create pictures for my Instagram, I can start my creative process in different ways based on the product that I need to feature in the post, a particular clothing item I need to wear, or the setting I want to be in. After that, I discuss my idea with the stylist and photographer and we shoot. After shooting, I may want to change the concept sometimes because of something else that inspired me. It’s really a never-ending process.

Who is your favorite fashion icon at the moment?
I adore Chiara Ferragni, I always have. She is such a huge inspiration for me because of the empire she created based on her own name. This is something I would like to do in the future.

Do you have a specific beauty or fitness routine that you try to keep?
In terms of beauty rituals I always try to keep my skin clean and hydrated, so I go for the usual three-step routine: cleansing, toning, and hydrating. I love applying all sorts of masks to keep my skin beautiful and I also use a special peeling mask once every week or two.

When it comes to [fitness] I am not as consistent. I try to exercise regularly, but I don’t always have time. I should admit that [being active] helps with being productive at work.

In addition to launching your own line of cosmetics, you have also worked with brands like M.A.C., Kiehl's, and Benefit, as well as created an absolutely adorable line of iPhone cases for Casetify. Can you tell us how your current partnership with Levi's Russia came about and what it entails?
Thank you! With Levi’s I had a collaboration within their Tailor Shop initiative, where they customize products for clients and have lectures and public talks almost every day for the whole summer. I was invited to give a public talk about creative content on Instagram, but I hope that it's only the beginning of our collaboration.

"Be persistent, be patient, and be confident."

You are also quite a traveler, having visited some pretty cool places like Berlin, Milan (where you actually lived for two years), and Tel Aviv. What are your top three favorite travel destinations?
My favorite place is Milan because it’s the best city to live in, it has it all: beautiful tourist attractions, art museums, shopping, bars, restaurants, pizza and pasta, and the best wine in the world! I think the second place I am completely in love with is Paris; such a spacious, beautiful, and great city! I fell in love at first sight and the people there are also lovely! Number three, for now, is vacant. I still need to visit so many places!

How important is your Instagram channel to you personally and professionally?
My Instagram is the most straightforward way to express my creativity (and get immediate feedback) and it is also a way to make something without anyone telling me what to do. Professionally, Instagram is where my clients find me, so it’s an indispensable tool for promotion.

You recently wrote a post on Instagram describing an encounter you had with someone who was very disingenuous and how a first impression is truly everlasting. Can you tell us more about this "don't be fake, be real" motto, why it's so important to you, and how it plays out in your day-to-day life?
I think it’s very important in life to be who you really are and have opportunities to hang out with people with whom you can behave in the way you want to. I am quite a crazy person (in a good sense) and I really value those times when I can be 100% myself. I hate pretending I am something that I am not, so I never do.

What advice would you give to any up-and-coming artists trying to break into the industry, and what is one thing you wish you knew when you started that you know now?
Be persistent, be patient, and be confident. I wish I knew that you have to sign a contract for every illustration you make for someone else.

What can we look out for from you closing out 2017 and into early 2018?
I will be working on my skills in terms of drawing and learning more about Photoshop and animation programs because I always want to improve my content. I will have some more lectures in Russia and hopefully abroad. As for the projects, I need to see what new interesting opportunities come about.

What does MISSBISH mean to you and who's your MISSBISH?
For me, it means being true to yourself and honest with others. I hate people who take money for something they are not able to do and deceive people. And of course, for me, a MISSBISH is a woman who is able to be good in every sphere of her life. Whether that be personal relationships or work; life in general.

One of my icons is Cara Delevingne. Every interview I watch with her has this strong message to empower women. She is a person full of meaning and interesting thoughts, and she is breaking the bad image of the modeling industry.

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