Drawing Inspiration

October 1, 2012 | By Lianne Bidal Thompson

Hawai‘i-based artist Kat Reeder discusses her work and a vision fulfilled.

You’ve no doubt seen Kat Reeder’s artwork in galleries throughout Waikiki. Her prints usually depict an exotic young lady, locks flowing in the breeze, lounging beachside. Reeder made a splash with her Triple Crown poster for last year’s world-renown surf competition, garnering the attention of the powers-that-be at LeSportsac. Now toting (pun intended!) the success of her first design for the brand, the artist is set to introduce a second design for the line.

We caught up with the graphic designer during a recent party at the Royal Hawaiian Center LeSportsac boutique. The Peruvian-American who hails from Miami revealed that it was her vision to live in Hawai‘i, and although she makes her home on O‘ahu’s West Side, she finds that her life as an artist brings her into Waikiki—and other points beyond— quite often.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by music, dance and local folklore. I’m always listening to music— from local reggae to classic Hawaiian music, guitar—everything. I’m always listening to music and coming up with stories. Everything is a story.

Your art shows strong influences from the beach lifestyle, from both here in Hawai‘i and also Miami. Does your Peruvian culture influence you as well?

Yes, I have a couple pieces that are Peruvian inspired. It’s a different aesthetic than Hawai‘i, which is so wonderful because the Peruvian aesthetic is more geometric, very Native American. And Hawaiian is so organic and so … I’d like to think of myself as a Peruvian artist celebrating the organic nature [of Hawai‘i] … I think I take a lot of my Hispanic background, those sensibilities, but I like to celebrate the local beauty as well.

I want to create a line to celebrate Hispanic culture. That’s one of my projects, I’m going to be working on a whole series, Women of the World. I love world cultures. I’d like to create something that not only celebrates Hawai‘i, but the entire world.

The Kat Reeder woman is very beautiful.

Yes, she [the women I depict] is a mixture of everything … and I think that’s where we’re headed. We’re becoming more global, even in our looks. So I want to create women that you can relate to. Everybody sees a little bit of themselves [in her].

What brought you to Hawai‘i?

After I got engaged, for a long time, this is where we wanted to be. I came here—and I know everybody says this, but sometimes when you go some place and you feel like that’s home, that’s where you should have been all along. And, that’s how Hawai‘i felt [for me]. This is home. So we worked for years toward moving here. It was a dream to live here, for about 10 years. And we finally made it happen, and we never looked back. Now, my family’s moving here!

Do you come to Waikiki often?

I do when I have to go to the galleries for signing events. And sometimes we want to [pretend like we are] tourists.

What are some of the things you like to do when you’re “playing tourist” in Waikiki?

We like to stay at a hotel, go to the clubs, look at the artwork, check out the merchandise—see what’s happening. Sometimes, we like to just pretend that we just came here. We walk around and say “Wouldn’t it be nice if we lived here?” (Laughs.)

Do you surf?

I don’t surf, but I have a lot of appreciation for surfers. I grew up near a beach, so I just love the ocean. I’m more in love with the flow of the water … the movement. I’m always trying to capture movement in my art, so I’m more inspired by the idea of the beach, the wind, and all that, than actual surfing. I’m not a very good surfer. I think it takes a lot of athletic prowess to do it, and I don’t have it. It looks hard.

Tell me where you see this LeSportsac line headed.

I would love to have a long partnership with LeSportsac. Not only because they create great work, and their prints are [sought after] all over the world; but LeSportsac is very high in demand. To partner with LeSportsac for a future project would be amazing. I also respect their vision: they want to highlight local artists, which is something you don’t [usually] find in big brands.

Anything else on the front burner?

I’m going to be working on a solo show in December, and I haven’t taken on any big projects for the end of the year because I want to focus on the Women of the World series.