Folk Fest Insider

Presenting the newest artist to design a Richmond Folk Festival poster

August 30, 2016

Katie McBride isn’t new to the poster game. After she graduated from art school at VCU, she found posters to be a great way to build up a portfolio.

"It’s Richmond, everyone has a band, so I’d ask if their band wanted a poster!” Katie remembers. "And it would be real work in my portfolio that I could show a client."

She’s a graphic designer by trade, but an illustrator at heart. So when she was tapped to design the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival’s official poster—she jumped at the chance to follow a long line of artists she admired in making the ultimate representation of Richmond’s most treasured festival.

Katie McBride

A tailor-made challenge

The RFF poster is not an easy assignment. It not only has to be compelling, interesting, and beautiful, it has to include all 50+ performers. Plus, the entire city's anticipation of both the poster and the festival itself means pressure, not to mention the fact that the list of artists from previous years includes multiple former professors and mentors. She’s also the first female to illustrate the poster single-handedly.

But Katie took a deep breath and accepted it all as an honor. She started by looking at the work of her predecessors in years past, but she knew that she was being trusted with a lot of creative freedom. “Venture Richmond hires you to do what you do,” she says.

And what Katie McBride loves to do best are gorgeous nature scenes with…anthropomorphic animals.

“I was the kid that drew too many horses, I think every elementary school has that kid,” laughs Katie. “They’d make fun of me and I’d be like ‘I just love horses, you guys!’” She comes by it honestly—her mother’s an artist and her dad an art history enthusiast, so she grew up surrounded by art. When it came time to choose a practical course for her artistic leanings, she found herself leaning more and more towards illustration.

“You get to draw, of course,” she explains. “But you get to read a lot, too, and analyze texts and come up with imagery.” It’s that juxtaposition of text and illustration, telling a story visually, that kept Katie’s creative juices flowing.

A creative process that mixes old and new

Katie starts her drawings by hand, with ink or pencil, focusing on getting a clean drawing down that she can scan. She’s found that doing screen prints helps her transfer an illustration more effectively to the digital realm. Using a Wacom tablet, she continues drawing, then adds color and texture. “It’s a combination of traditional and digital,” Katie says. “Ultimately, I think making stuff with your hands is such a compulsion for a lot of artists. Sometimes I just want to sit down and draw."

2016 Richmond Folk Festival Poster Reveal Party

We can’t reveal too much about the finished product, but Katie McBride will be unveiling the 2016 Richmond Folk Festival poster on September 7 at Glave Kocen Gallery. Free and open to the public, the event will feature other poster artist from past Folk Fests, give guests an opportunity to purchase signed, limited edition prints (other merchandise featuring the design will be available for purchase later on in the month and at the festival), and present snacks by Heritage, drinks from Loveland Distributing, and music by Josh Small and Andrew Ali.

Check out our Facebook page at 5pm Thurs. Sept 1 to tune into a live broadcast with Katie at Glave Kocen.

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