Studio Stories: Katie Made That

Banner featuring Katie's portrait by 'Katie Made That,' flanked by two of her intricate invitation designs, highlighting her bespoke stationery services.
Banner featuring Katie's portrait by 'Katie Made That,' flanked by two of her intricate invitation designs, highlighting her bespoke stationery services.

Making Life Look the Way You Want, an Interview With Katie Johnson, Founder of Katie Made That

Katie Johnson has learned that making art is far from an individual activity. Participating in an Instagram challenge opened her up to an exhilarating career pivot. She continues to connect with other artists by sharing motivational stories and tips.

With so much talent and warmth, Greetings Island couldn’t resist reaching out to her for an exclusive Katie Made That invitation collaboration. Would you like to know the brilliant artist behind Katie Made That? Check out this fabulous interview.

A lot of your designs include fun, charming, and uplifting phrases. Do you have a favorite phrase that you’ve used in your art that has moved you?

I really like to get inspiration from quotes from some of my favorite artists, scientists, thinkers, etc. One of my favorites is from Soren Kierkegaard: “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.” I also love so many quotes from Carl Sagan!

Assortment of birthday invitation designs by Katie Made That, featuring portraits of men at milestone ages of 40, 60, and 80, artistically presented on a neutral background.

You’ve stated that a weekly Instagram lettering challenge is what first got you into the lettering world. Could you share more about this life-changing discovery that allowed you to find your passion?

I had been in the design world for quite some time, but I was afraid to start lettering because I didn’t feel “qualified” enough. An Instagram challenge called “Homwork” by Lauren Hom encouraged me to really give it a shot. She welcomed people of all backgrounds and at all levels to complete challenges like illustrating one letter in as many ways as you could, and it opened up a world for me that felt much more approachable. It allowed me to see that I had a lot of passion for letters and that I should feel confident enough to pursue that.

Some people may think that letters are simple symbols. You’ve managed to make every letter a stunning work of art. Were you shocked when you could start seeing letters as something special?
Yes! I have always been obsessed with my handwriting. Even as a little kid, I was perfecting my strokes and writing bubble letters and seeing how I could add interest to words. I didn’t know that it had a name or could be a profession until much later in life, but it was an exciting revelation when I figured that out!

What inspired you most while working on the collaboration with Greetings Island?

I love the diversity of the briefs. I might be doing one card in a very minimalistic style and then another with lots of ornaments and illustrations and a more maximalist approach. I’m inspired by trying to adjust to the needs of each particular phrase of copy that I’m given.

The invitations you’ve created for Greetings Island cover birthdays, gender reveals, graduations, and much more. Do you have a favorite kind of event that you love to attend or host? Why?

I love to host big life events for my friends, like baby showers or bridal showers. I’m big into DIY decorations and making tasty treats. For one baby shower, I made extremely detailed succulent cupcakes. It took me a full day to make them, but I had a blast and it felt good to show my friend how much I loved and supported her!

Overhead shot of Katie Made That's studio setup, with a vibrant red coffee mug, graphic design books with a small plant resting on top, and a blue pencil on paper with a hand-drawn sketch.

On your website, you have a blog to help educate other artists. Out of every article you’ve written, what piece of advice do you feel is most important about working as an artist or life in general?

I think it’s really important to believe you can make your life look the way YOU want it to. Your home, family, job, work schedule, etc. should be your own creation based on what you want and need. It doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s, and you don’t have to accept what’s “average” or “normal”. Figure out what you want, and then put in the work to make it happen.

You used to work as an art director at an advertising agency before starting your own business. Did this experience help shape your business ventures in any way?

Very much so. The most important thing I learned was to question why. Instead of accepting everything I was told to do and just executing it, I learned to ask “is this even the right way to achieve our goal?” Often I came up with much better answers and we ended up taking projects in different directions that felt much more aligned with client needs.

Could you walk us through your artistic process? Does it start with a vision, or do you have specific strategies?

I typically let the idea or content I’m starting with inform the style. I often make a mood board or pull a few visual references, then do some small thumbnail sketches. I pick the best sketch and turn that into a final.

Great events are all about spending time with your loved ones. Aside from having your favorite people by your side, what other elements would you need to turn your dream event into a reality?

Great decor and delicious food!

Graduation invitation on a neutral backdrop showcasing a jubilant woman in a cap and gown, holding a diploma, accented with golden dots; alongside a 'Save the Date' invite with elegant typography on a light cream background. Three delicate pink flowers are tastefully placed near the stationery.

You’ve humbly said that you’re not finished growing as an artist. Where would you like to see yourself and your business in both the near and distant future?

I’m really passionate about teaching other artists how to run their own businesses. I want to continue to help people that way, and to also feel creatively fulfilled in my own art. Making more book cover designs and art for film would be very exciting for me.

Fabulous Artists Make Celebrating Life More Fulfilling

We may not all be lucky enough to attend any of Katie’s parties with her homemade treats, but we can liven up our own events with the help of her incredible invitation designs (full collection link).

Katie is just one of the many independent artists Greetings Island teams up with to help make life’s wondrous moments more special. Scroll through our entire invitation collection to discover the perfect invitation for your next event.

Katie has so much more art to share with the world. Follow her on Instagram @katiemadethat so you can brighten up your feed.