Cat de Montjoye is an illustrator originally from Colombia and currently resides in the USA. She works out of her studio Starstruck Creative. In her art, she explores themes such as sustainability, science and movement. She aspires to invite viewers to explore, self-reflect and question the world around them.
What’s your artistic background?
I am a self-taught artist. However, I have studied different illustration techniques over the years: fashion illustration and architectural illustration. I also have studied color theory and design thinking. As an artist, I am inspired from many personal and professional experiences.
What’s integral to the work of an artist?
A curiosity of the world around them. Staying open-minded to exploration, self-discovery and collaboration.
What role does the artist have in society?
Each artist has to define that for themselves. For me, an artist can be a great agent for change in society. Art and societal change go hand in hand. Artists are tapping into their creative energy regularly; I think they can help society find solutions to very hard-pressing problems through their creative approaches.
What art do you most identify with?
I find inspiration from several periods, art forms and artists. I really admire the Dutch Golden Age artists because they incorporated really cutting-edge techniques at that time. I like Vermeer the most. He was a great innovator.
What themes do you pursue?
I am interested in sustainability, specifically light pollution. Light pollution is becoming a big challenge, 83% of humans live under light-polluted skies, I like to explore that theme a lot in my art. I want to invite people to think: what would our world look like without light pollution? At the same time, I also incorporate astronomy in my art. Scientific images are beautiful and inspiring; so I frequently use images produced by NASA. Another theme I explore is architecture. I always find that topic fascinating and there’s a lot to pull from. Finally, I have been exploring dystopian themes. Right now, we are super pumped about colonizing Mars and setting up permanent outposts on the moon, but what will happen after that? What will space exploration look like in 100 or 200 years?
What’s your favorite artwork?
This is a tough one! There are so many I love, but if I have to narrow it down to one, I guess it is ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring,’ by Vermeer. She’s so enigmatic and beautiful. I love the composition and color palette. For me, it is a masterpiece way ahead of its time. She’s actually classic and modern. Simply beautiful.
Describe a real-life situation that inspired you?
I visited Rembrandt’s home a few years ago. It was interesting to walk through the hallways and rooms he walked through too, it was a unique experience. I particularly enjoyed visiting his studio space and prop room. It was interesting to see how two-thirds of his home was set up for art-making. The experience was a small window into art history.
What jobs have you done other than being an artist?
I am a digital strategist at a US university health care system. I also teach yoga. I am interested in the intersection between art and healing. Those are my two life passions and I am happy to be doing both.
Because humans are innovators and explorers by nature. Art allows us to materialize our emotions, aspirations and dreams. Art is life.
What is an artistic outlook on life?
An artistic outlook on life cultivates a sense of awe, finds beauty and inspiration in unexpected places and connects dots that haven’t been connected before.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
Someone mentioned that by looking at my art, they could try to go through my thought process. I thought that was interesting feedback. I also have people tell me my art makes them pause and feel a sense of calm.
What food, drink, song inspires you?
I enjoy drinking fresh water. It is such a fundamental thing to do but so vital and precious. I also love food made with fresh natural ingredients. Mediterranean and Mexican food are my favorite. They are full of color and wonderful flavors. Lately, I have been listening to Tom Petty’s ” I won’t back down.” I like how timeless the lyrics of this song are. I usually like to be inspired by the beauty of the world around me but sometimes you also need to let people know to back off, that song does that perfectly.
Is the artistic life lonely? What do you do to counteract it?
I don’t think an artistic life is lonely at all. On the contrary, it is a wonderful way to reflect on multiple topics and an excellent way to connect with others. I feel less lonely since I started creating art. I like the fact that when creating art there is an introspective part and a part that is about sharing that art with the world. It creates a nice balance.
What do you dislike about the art world?
I am not a fan that people who don’t create art get to define what ‘good art’ is, and or what’s ‘valuable art’. I am excited about the emergence of some platforms that allow artists, collectors and innovators to connect with each other without the interference of critics or dealers.
What do you dislike about your work?
I like all the work I do, sometimes I wonder if people are going to like a particular piece or not. But like many things in life, some people will love it, some others won’t, some will remain indifferent. I need to be OK with that.
What do you like about your work?
I spend a good amount of time thinking about colors in my art, so that is probably my favorite thing. I want to evoke emotions through color.
Should art be funded?
I think art funding is important because it creates exposure, opportunities, and awareness. But more than funding, I would like our society to understand that art is intrinsic to our human experience and needs to be part of many vital processes in society. I would love for our society to avoid thinking art needs to be funded, instead of recognizing it’s value and allocating resources accordingly.
What role does arts funding have?
I think art funding can provide opportunities for many artists and also bring art to unexpected places, that exposure can be life-changing for many. However, I still think people see art as a luxury, but in my opinion, art is vital. While recognizing funding is important, I hope we move towards funding arts because it’s important and not just based on need.
What is your dream project?
I love the power of public art, so my dream project is to create an immersive public art display that anybody can enjoy. I would love to participate in Art on the Mart in Chicago. Additionally, I am interested in art as a healing agent, so I would also love to create an art experience for a healing space, a hospital, or a recovery space.
Name three artists you’d like to be compared to.
I admire illustrator Carlo Stanga so being in the same category would be awesome. I also love Fernando Botero’s use of color and composition. We are from the same city, so being compared to him would be incredible.
Favorite or most inspirational place?
Chicago has emerged as a place of inspiration for me as well as Russia. I also find a lot of inspiration in the Sonoran desert of the United States in Arizona.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Don’t compare yourself to others, instead, cultivate yourself and celebrate your unique perspective. Another couple of phrases I like: Say what you mean but don’t say it mean and keep swimming from Finding Nemo haha. It’s true…we are all swimming through life.
Professionally, what’s your goal?
Professionally I’d love to keep creating art, work on some cool collaborations, perhaps with a mainstream brand. I would love to do a public art experience that inspires and transforms.
I will be having my first solo exhibit at Duke Hospital soon which is super exciting because I am a big believer in art as a healing agent.