Editor’s Note: I found Katherine’s post about her art work with Rod Stewart’s album cover and I knew immediately that she needed to be on AudacityMagazine. At first, she was going to be interviewed but her writing definitely does a much better job of expressing herself than any interviewer could do.
Having a physical disability makes employment a major challenge. People with physical disabilities are one of the highest unemployed populations in the United States. One can only imagine how it must be around the world. Katherine shares her story with us as to how she found her work.
Katherine’s Art Journey
People ask me why I became an artist/graphic designer, and my answer usually is something like, “Well, art won by default.”
My name is Katherine Klimitas, and I live in New Orleans, Louisiana with my mother and our four dogs (also knowns as my siblings). I grew up with two parents who were veterinarians, and I’ve never known a life without pets. I was always a good student, and I graduated summa cum laude from Loyola University. After receiving my BA in graphic design, I chose to start my own art and design business, KAK ART & Designs.
Sounds like a pretty normal life, right? Well, the first thing people usually notice about me is not my blonde hair or my blue eyes, but the fact that I’m 2’7″ and use a 400 pound electric wheelchair for mobility. I was born with a genetic bone disease called Osteogenesis Imperfecta. Basically, it is a fancy term that means that my bones break easily and grow abnormally.
And when I say easily, I mean that we stopped counting my breaks around 500 when I was ten. And before you ask, yeah. It does hurt to break a bone. Like, a lot.
Because as a kid I was unable to take part in most of the activities that my peers did, it was a challenge for my mother to keep me entertained. Although I couldn’t always move much, I was very smart and got bored quickly.
When I was five, Mom bought me my first watercolor set, and as they say, the rest is history.
Once I started taking art classes in grade school, it was clear that I really enjoyed it. My mother made sure that I was busy with private lessons and summer camps as well. Pretty soon I had already dabbled in countless mediums including oil, acrylic, stained glass, print making, glass blowing and sculpture. No matter how many vehicles I tried though, watercolor remained my preference.
Getting Paid for My Art and Art Troubles Ahead
I sold my first painting when I was ten, and I did my first commissioned piece around age twelve. My parents’ clients became my clientele. By the time I was fifteen, I had a steady stream of work painting watercolor pet portraits. I enjoyed painting and what teenager doesn’t like having their own source of income with no bills? I certainly did.
When I graduated high school, I received an academic scholarship to Loyola University and began the fine arts program in the fall of 2007. By the beginning of my sophomore year, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be physically able to put out the amount of artwork it would take for me to become a monetarily successful artist. I chose to switch my major to graphic design. And today, I work from home as a full time freelance designer creating logos, business cards, websites, social media posts and everything in between.
Sustainable Work with My Art
I also continue to paint and make jewelry, continuing with commissions as well as private art and jewelry events throughout the year. I keep up an online Etsy store as well, offering most of my art and jewelry designs for sale all year round. Let’s just say, I manage to keep myself quite busy.
Although art began as my hobby, it quickly evolved into my career before I was even in high school. I’m honestly not sure what I would do for a living if I wasn’t a graphic designer/artist. It didn’t take long before I had to admit to ten-year-old-me that killer whale training was probably not in my future, and the truth is that I am limited in what I can physically do. That’s not to say there aren’t other jobs out there that would work for me, because there certainly are, but I’ve always been grateful that my life started in such a strong direction. And it helps that I actually like my job most days. Like I said, art and design won by default.
Here are my sites:
Katherine Klimitas is a New Orleans-based artist and designer who sold her first watercolor at age 10. As the daughter of veterinarians, Katherine expresses her family’s life-long love of animals through her meticulous life-like paintings. She earned a B.A. from Loyola University in 2011, and today at age 29, runs her multifaceted business KAK ART & Designs from home. When clients learn that Katherine has Osteogenesis Imperfecta, also known as brittle bone disease, they are captivated by her unique perspective.She’s 2 feet 7 inches tall, gets around in an electric wheelchair, and creates all of her art, jewelry and commercial graphic design while lying on her side.
Maybe Osteogenesis Imperfecta has a gene for art because Athena Cooper has her story here.
If you haven’t already subscribed to be in on the inner circle of AudacityMagazine.com, subscribe here.