Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Paris: It's Official!!

A few months ago I scrambled within my busy schedule to prepare a portfolio, gather letters of recommendation from professors, and put together an application package for an exchange trip to study abroad for a semester. I got it all sorted out, submitted to a few schools in Europe, and then the waiting game started.


I have never experienced something quite like the way I felt during this waiting period. I jumped back and forth along the biggest spectrum of emotions and feelings and thoughts, from feeling absolutely ecstatic at the idea of going, to being miserable at the thought of not getting accepted, to getting furious that I was turning down so (sooo) many opportunities in the upcoming 6 months because I couldn't commit, to not wanting to go at all and trying to justify this to myself. It was a roller coaster - the totally intense kind that gives you whiplash and bruises on your hips when you swing side to side in the seat and makes you so nauseated you puke up all the comfort food you ate while you were stressing out.

(Things got weird... clearly...)


Imagine my relief when I woke up one morning to an e-mail telling me I'd been accepted to study at a school in Paris. And the extra relief that came with me just being purely flat out totally excited, no other feelings, no spectrum. Just excited. A little terrified at moments, but mostly excited!

I mean PARIS. As an art student, can you dream for anything more? It's a cliché but in the most wonderful way. I've also lucked out and found out that some friends from elementary school, all three of us at different universities, are all going to Paris at the same time. Their school over there happens to be right around the corner from the school I'll be studying at. Small world? Crazy small.

I am so, so excited for this adventure. Obviously I'll be blogging about it all right here, and if anyone's been to Paris and has any sight seeing suggestions shoot them my way!


Friday, December 13, 2013

12 Roles That Better Suit Mayor Rob Ford

I'm sure some of you, if not all of you, have heard about all of Toronto's Mayor Rob Ford nonsense. It's been a world-wide news topic. Yup. Not Toronto's proudest moment... or moments... ongoing moment... it's pretty brutal but at least we can find some humour in it! 

I made this poster for an infographic assignment and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out! Some of them are random, some of them are jokes based on particular Ford incidents. 

For those of you who may not have heard about Rob Ford, I'll sum it up for you. Rob Ford is our mayor and has admitted to smoking crack, has a long history of public intoxication, lots of allegations of drunk driving and other stupidity, says explicit things about his sex life on live television, swears infront of kids, violently charges at people in City Hall,and the list keeps going and going and going. Politics have never been more like an episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians.

Disclaimer: As a native Torontonian, I can safely say we are not all crackheads here.


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Turning a New Leaf

(C) Katia Engell

Well, I have officially retired the "KittySnooks" title. I would super duper appreciate it if anyone following would follow the new URL on bloglovin', as I wasn't sure how to switch from one url to the other while keeping them somehow tied!

There is so much 'new' in my life. I've been exploring new modes of art-making, new career paths within illustration, new interests. This above piece, though I wish were a real Soulpepper poster, was just a final assignment where we were provided templates from the 2009 Soulpepper posters. The best part about posting some of these online was when people commented on some of my friends' pieces saying "omg! Congrats!" or "Did they pay you to use that?" and other funny-to-us comments.

I have finished more than half of my undergrad degree now - holy smokes! It's the holidays and I am so so glad to have a bit of time to rest my head and draw and write and read before next semester. Next semester's going to be quite the adventure. More on that later...


Thursday, November 28, 2013

20 before 21

Well, that's it folks! 
My teenage years are officially numerically behind me. 

I had a lovely birthday with family and friends and food (the ever important 3Fs!) and am really looking forward to the upcoming year! Lots of exciting things coming up and lots of stories to unfold.

 Oh, and happy Thanksgiving to my American friends!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Shine Bright Like a Diamond Unicorn

I kept singing Rihanna's "Diamond" when I made these pieces, except adding 'unicorn' onto it. Yes I have subsequently ruined the song for myself. I'm really happy with how my piece turned out though, so it was definitely worth it.

These were to illustrate two of the 48 Laws of Power (from the book by Robert Greene) as a class assignment. My prof let me get pretty conceptual which I really enjoyed! The present is for the law "Use selective honest and generosity to disarm your opponent" and the unicorn is "Play to peoples' fantasies". Lot's of fun to do, and it got me to read the book, which is also pretty great!


Friday, November 8, 2013

Craft it Forward

A while back I was lucky enough to be one of the recipients of a Craft It Forward that Sam from My Latest Obsession hosted! If you've been around this blog long enough you'll know how much I admire Sam for her independent business, Sam Wish. Now here's the extra cool factor - she and her adorable family are now building their own small home! All DIY! So duh, I was pretty stoked to see what this wonderfully crafty, handy, talented woman would send in a Craft it Forward package!

I wish I had more pictures. This was the sweetest little package to unwrap, every item I pulled out was another moment of "EEK!" Sam's recently been shifting from selling apparel, to selling all-natural, handmade bath/beauty products, so I'm super stoked to get to try these out! I'll be sure to let you all know what I think. They smell super duper awesome, that's for sure!

So the best part about Craft it Forward is that I now get to send out some goodies as well! The first 3 people to comment on this post with their e-mails will win a crafty gift from yours truly :)

I don't know if I'll even get 3 people commenting but, let's see!


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Halloween On the Dark Side

No, my halloween was not a somber night, I was Darth Vader for Halloween! I spent my Halloween weekend at a few little shindigs that were a total blast. I got to see people from my first highschool & my university at one party, then an entirely new crowd at the other! It's kind of fun knowing absolutely no one at a party and making friends. I bonded with a bunch of people over my music choices when I 'DJed' which just means I plugged in my Iphone. It was rad.


 (The two above photos captured by a talented photographer friend Carly! Check out her Flickr!)

I have some pretty good, fun people in my life. Check out my friend's DIY Uncle Sam costume in the bottom right picture! Her room mate was Rosie the Riveter to match, super awesome!

What did you dress up as for Halloween?
Can you believe it's already November? It's my birthday month! Hopefully it'll be a nice and busy and exciting month.


Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Chaos Theory

(C) Katia Engell

One of the things I love most about illustration is that, in order to create a piece that is not only accurate but meaningful and understandable too, you need to research the topic about which you are illustrating. Whether that means a shit ton of reference photos for your subject matter, or actual reading on certain topics and themes, I love love love how much random knowledge I accumulate through my projects.

Currently I have an assignment to illustrate with The Chaos Theory in mind. Reading about it has been really cool; it's a mathematical theory that compliments the idea that there are things so far out of our control, a certain level of interconnectivity that our brains can't yet understand fully, it's a mixture of logical thinking but acknowledging at the same time that there is a strong element of 'randomness' in life.

There's so much of it that applies to life. How every single tiny decision we make can affect us so so much down the road, in such a way that we won't even be aware of it later. How random occurences are entirely out of our control and can fuck up even the most carefully plotted plan. How the only way to be ready for the unpredictable is to be prepared to embrace what comes our way in life, one way or another.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hats Hats Hats!

Bits and pieces of process for an illustrative typography assignment. The evolution of hats!

I had a total blast working on these letters - even if I wanted to tear my hair out for the better portion of the time I spent on it. It was actually very nice to stray away from my usual characters and to really focus on my rendering and my concept. I've been working on a few pieces without characters for school and I'm really feeling refreshed, re-inspired. Going back to some drawing basics is proving to be really rewarding!

How fun would this be on an actual hat? We needed to show it on some sort of apparel application. How could I not put it on a hat? Hehe.


Friday, October 18, 2013

Lifeboat Jamboree Update

Hey everyone!

Remember when I posted about a side project I was doing with my friend Annie? The one where we pick 3 random words and both make illustrations for those 3 words? Well we've both been busy and slow but there's an update on our Lifeboat Jamboree blog!

This was my piece:

Not my best piece - but I played around with techniques and stuff. Pretty fun!


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Florist

"It's an interesting job because we deal with the entire cycle of life. People come in for everything from baby showers, to funerals, to marriage, to simple dates. So you deal with a lot of different things."  - the florist from around the corner

I'm thankful for my jobs in customer service. They've made small talk much easier, and small talk leads to really wonderful insight sometimes.


ps. Happy belated Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadian bloggers!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Frida's World

Frida Caricature
For my Media Studio Hybrid class.
Hand drawn & Digital combined, Photoshop

In Frida's world, everyone has uni-brows, and Diego is a toad... 
Well, that's how it is in my version of Frida's world anyhow.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

happy mistakes

You know, sometimes, most of the time the things we try to do in life, the things we are hoping for, the things we work for, they don't work out the way we want them to.

Ink gets spilled like blood and tears, paper gets torn like dreams and hearts, and things get shitty. Really shitty, and sad. But if there's one thing I've learned from my years of living and art making, it's that sometimes a mistake turns out to be exactly what you need and you learn from it, or, in art anyway, you try to do it again because it looks so damn good.

It's the happy mistakes that make masterpieces.


Friday, September 20, 2013

Guilty Pleasures

"Playing with Food" 
Acrylic ink, digitally fixed up.
My first assignment for third year! 

(C) Katia Engell

Third year has been amazing so far.
Though I had the worst luck with this particular assignment (messing around with new techniques didn't work out so well on a deadline...), I've been super thrilled with my classes, with my profs. I think it's going to be a great semester.

By the way - I'll probably be posting more consistently on my art tumblr these days.

I've been diving head first into life and sitting down to blog about little bits of it hasn't been appealing to me. Maybe I've just been too engaged in what's going on around me to blog, but I don't think that's a bad thing. I like being in the moment, not taking photos of everything to blog it later - instead taking it in with sensory memories, soaking in the moment.

Ouf, I love it.


Thursday, September 5, 2013

byebye summer!



This summer I...
- Spent as much time with good friends as I could
- Worked my butt off at a full time office job & learned tons
- Had some wonderful campfire nights
- Saw some wonderful skyscapes
- Participated in 2 live art shows
- Ate a lot of sushi and made several edamame shell towers
-  Moved back home
- Realized more-so that Toronto may not be the place for me in the long run
- Went to a lot of concerts and shows and events
- Did a Color Me Rad 5K
- Discovered a lot of good music
- Had a great time, many times.

Today I start classes again - here's to another school year of creative goodness!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Illustrations for Work

I whipped up these little spot illustrations in a day for a project at work. It's meant to help explain the "5S" process improvement tool. Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain! I was pretty proud of how they turned out considering I had a very limited amount of time to do them :)

Can you guess which illustration is for which S?

(C) Katia Engell


Sunday, July 14, 2013


a friend and I went out downtown and played with our recently acquired fuji instax cameras. we had a really nice time exploring, walking, laughing at the trouble I had trying to bite into the chewy squid/octopus in my seafood ramen, and taking photos of course!

I like that instant photos are not only immediate, but capture a single 'instant' as well, and it's not digital so there's no going back. 

I also like friends who like picture taking with me, hehe.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Illustration: The Littlest Elephant

Another assignment from class!

We had to design a page with vignettes, which was kind of challenging - but I like how it turned out!
(c) Katia Engell
Blue pen and Soft Pastel

For all of you who follow me on instagram you probably saw how many little elephants I drew to try and get this character down. There were elephants EVERY WHERE, elephant overload! Except I love them so it's ok.


Monday, June 10, 2013

I Made Something: Recycled Paper

My current job is an office job. We have cubicles and meetings and access cards and photo IDs and all of that official stuff. It's actually not as stifling and dry as it sounds - but I have been very bothered by one aspect in particular. There is an absolutely INSANE amount of paper waste in the office. To the point where I'll get a packet of 10 pages of dispersed text stapled together for one meeting. Then three days later, when we get the updated version, another 10 pages of dispersed text. Do we actually do anything with it? No. We look at it during the meeting and make comments.

So yea. It drives me nuts. So I had this rad idea to try and feel better about it all... making my own recycled paper!

Here is a very brief explanation of how I did it. I do not recommend following this advice solely, as I have yet to perfect the technique. But this is a very basic run-through if you just want to do it as a fun hands-on activity on a nice day!

Start by ripping up your selection of papers you'd like to recycle. Avoid any materials that are waxy or coated, or any paper that has ink on it (I ripped around all the text that had been printed). Put it in a blender with some warm water. I filled the blender halfway with paper first, then filled most of the way with warm water. I also put in some mint leaves, because I thought that mint-smelling paper would be totally awesome. It didn't end up smelling of mint, but that's ok. It still added some super cool texture.

Blend it until it looks like one of those bizarre new health smoothies. The consistency should be about that of oatmeal (except, I read that online. I sort of just eyeballed it.).

I used 3 blender fulls of 'pulp' or paper juice, as I called it, then dumped it into a tub. I then added warm water to the tub until it was a bit more than halfway full. I took the operation outside because it does tend to get messy. You're also supposed to add some liquid starch to it if you want to write on the paper - it's supposed to keep the pen ink from bleeding. I only had corn starch. So I tried that. I have yet to test out writing on it though.

You're supposed to use a frame with window-screen type material over it, but I used a screen I had gotten from a screen-printing kit I never used. You slip it into your really lovely looking paper juice mix and shake it side to side until the pulp looks evenly distributed. Then you slowly lift it out as flat as possible. This is definitely the hardest part, and I still don't understand how the paper pulp works yet. But that's ok, I still got some decent results.

Allow the paper to drip water back into the tub as much as possible, then flip it paper side down onto a cloth laid atop a cookie pan. From the backside of the screen, press out as much water as possible with a sponge. I also had trouble here, as my paper did not come off the screen as I pulled it off like the internet said it would. So I got a handy dandy hair dryer, dried it more, and then slipped a few fingers under the edge, and sort of guided the paper onto the cloth. This resulted in a lot of rips and accidents. But I was too impatient. Oh well.

 My final result was still totally exciting even if it was far form perfect! I love the natural, rough, textural quality of it. I'm so so so excited to experiment more with paper making and to really perfect my technique ;)! It's a very therapeutic experience in many ways. Much like any activity working with your hands and creating can be!

Have any of you guys tried making paper before? How did your process differ from this one? I'm really curious about the different ways to make recycled paper! It's so much fun and so rewarding to see all the paper that got wasted turned into something new and beautiful!


Friday, June 7, 2013

Illustration: Ellie Bean Book Spread

I'm taking a Book Illustration summer course until the end of June.
It's been a really open-ended course in that we are free to go our own direction and write our own pieces, so long as we follow some of the 'rules' of book design, things like layout-types and being mindful of the 'gutter' which is where the two pages meet in a spread. This particular assignment was to design two 2 page spreads.

I had a lot of fun with this assignment and wrote a little snippet of a story for it!

(c) Katia Engell
Acrylic & Soft pastels on Masonite

I'm loving the idea of writing and illustration children's books right now, it's actually what I first went into illustration hoping to do...


Thursday, June 6, 2013


Now that I have, finally, started updating this blog semi-regularly again, I noticed that the banner I had previously had somehow for some reason stopped showing up... instead of stressing and trying to figure out what went wrong with the image host or the html or css or whatnot, I decided to take it as an opportune time to revamp. I've been wanting to do so for a while any way so last night after about 5 different headers I finally settled on one I thought was simple enough but still 'me', and here we are! What do you guys think? Isn't my little snail fellow so cute, I whipped him up last night on illustrator of all programs!

(Previous layout!)

I don't think the visual appearance of my blog is all that's going to change around here. I have grown, and changed, and I feel the need to reflect that in my blog, as opposed to keeping up whatever it was I did before just for the sake of consistency and keeping the audience I had gained prior. Though to be honest I think I've already lost a good portion of my readers due to my lack of posting already so - here's to starting semi-fresh?

I feel like a broken record when I say I've grown a bit sick of fashion blogging. For myself anyway, I feel focusing on material things like clothes in a blog was making me buy in excess and want more more more more more and more. I need to learn to live with less (if only for the sake of working with limited closet space!) and to be happy with that. I have also begun trying to live a 'cleaner' life. It's a tough process when you're used to popping into the nearest forever 21 (there's one literally a 2 minute walk from my new job... that and Toronto's biggest shopping mall... ahh!) and buying cheap clothes that were probably manufactured in awful conditions.

I also felt it was making me focus on my appearance, a lot. I have a tendency to do so, and I need to let go of that. These thoughts have been floating around in my head a lot lately.

I would like to focus more on what I'm most passionate about - art. My artistic journey, the art and artists that inspire me, my classmates/friends whose art wows me and encourages me to keep chugging and improving, just art art art. And writing! I have rekindled my love for writing and reading, and I want to share about that as well.

Anyway. Long story short - things are changing and I'm happy they are. I feel better these days, I'm growing and learning and experiencing new things which is all so wonderful for me. I'll go into more detail another time!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Garage Sale Finds

Every year on the first Saturday of June, my neighbourhood does a mega-garage sale. It's one of my favourite events of the year - I LOVE going through peoples' old goodies and finding little treasures! I also love getting rid of everything I've decided to purge. I am such a sentimental, keep-all person, and I was really hard on myself for what I got rid of this year. Anything that didn't sell - I packed up into bags and threw into the salvation army truck that parks nearby at the end of the sale every year. I still snatched up some goodies though, all for less than 20$ - TOTAL! My inner thriftster is far over the moon!

Got these hawt-mama overalls for 5$. I chatted with the people selling them and they kept saying how it brought back their memories of wearing these in the 70's!

Super beautiful, old leather-working tools - for 4$! There's something about the look of old tools that I love. And now I can make belts actually fit me!
My friend Kathryn and I went to check out the stump of my neighbour's 100 year old tree - if you look close enough, you can see it started off as 4 individual trees! So so cool.

Books with incredible illustrations & an art nouveau mint tin - 4.25$ total.
One of my favourite illustrated pages from the "Encyclopedia of Nature" I got. I really love the aesthetic of old nature/botanical illustrations. They don't quite make them this way anymore.

Ahhhh now I just can't wait until next year to sell more of my excessive amount of STUFF, and to find more wonderful little treasures!