Katie Heater Interview

This is the continuation of a new series of posts highlighting former commonvision student designers and animators. The work that commonvision alums create is remarkable. We want to share what they have been up to since graduating from UMBC. 


commonvision: When were you working with commonvision and what was your role?

Katie Heater: I worked at commonvision from October 2006 - May 2013. I started as an office assistant but transitioned to a full time role and then a graduate assistant. I did a little bit of anything and everything!

 cv: What skills and experiences did you gain at commonvision that has helped you out in the "real world"?KH: I learned a lot of practical customer service and design skills (I had never even used a Mac before starting at commonvision!), but mostly I learned how to be a competent and productive adult. A lot of that has to do with all the incredible people I had the pleasure of working with who pushed me to be better and work harder.


cv: Are there any projects that you are particularly fond of having created while working at commonvision?KH: One of the most exciting and surprising things to have happened was the development of our screen-printing demos. I had no idea if it would work and was a totally crazy idea, but people ended up loving it. I'm happy to see that it's still going strong!


cv: What have you been up to since you left UMBC?

KH: I just celebrated my one-year anniversary in Brighton, England. My husband was offered a job here in October 2012 as a Lead Character Artist for a video game company. We spent 8 months apart and I moved out here to be with him after I completed my MFA. Brighton is great, and actually reminds me a lot of Baltimore at times. It's crazy quirky and has a small town feel with all of the benefits of city life.

 Since moving here, I spent 9 months managing a contemporary art gallery with an environmental focus, and have recently started working for a print and design company based in the city centre -- can you believe it!?


cv: What differences have you noticed between the designs worlds of the USA and the UK?

KH: Centimeters! I still have a hard time with the metric system. The print sizes are similar, but just a little bit bigger or smaller. For the most part though, things are pretty similar.


cv: Is the food in the UK as bad as its reputation?

KH: It’s been a challenge and a thrill to try all the new food and find substitutes for American favorites. My husband and I cook a lot, and the produce and meat over here is much better quality. I do miss Mexican food a lot though!


 cv: Is there any one thing that has surprised you about living and working in Bristol?

KH: Snails! They're literally everywhere and I love them.


 cv: How would you describe your "style"? How did you come to working this way? And who are some other artists/designers that inspire you?

KH: I started out as a printmaker and painter so I'm really precious when it comes to my materials, and rejected digital for so long! There's always a thread of this approach when I'm working on a project.

 I always appreciate artist’s stretch the boundaries of their disciplines.


cv: What do you feel has been the most successful project of yours? Or, which one do you think speaks most to your ideas and concepts?

KH: A few years ago I drew each of my 800+ Facebook friend's profile pictures. It started out as a fun exercise but ended up informing a lot of future work.


 cv: What advice would you give the current commonvision student staff and UMBC students that are about graduate and leave the comfortable academic environment?

KH: OOF! The real world is REAL! Pay your bills on time, always say 'Thank You', never expect the world to do you any favors, and never settle!


cv: What is the one thing graduating students need to know?

KH: No one knows what they are doing, just find your own weird little comfort in the unknown and you'll be OK.