Katie Vaz Talks Coloring, Inspiration, and the Best Advice She's Ever Received

Learn more about this Posh Coloring Studio artist and illustrator extraordinaire!

Katie Vaz does it all. She’s an illustrator, hand-letterer, graphic designer, and coloring book author. In addition to all the branding, packaging design, and illustration work she does for various clients, Katie designs her own line of greeting cards, prints, and other stationery products, which are sold both online and in brick-and-mortar shops. She particularly loves polka dots and cats, and when she’s not drawing cute things, you can find her baking or dreaming of the next place she wants to visit (Italy, anyone?).

We caught up with Katie to find out a little more about the person behind the (super cute, adorable, amazing) coloring pages:

Katie Vaz
Credit: Jamie Redmond

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

"People buy your joy." A couple of years ago, I took an online e-course with Lilla Rogers Studio, called "Make Art That Sells." It was an intense five-week course to help you learn how to make a living through licensing illustrations. Throughout the course, Lilla mentions often to create work that amuses you because "people buy your joy." It's stuck with me ever since. I think when you create work that feels true to you and delights you, it stands out and it delights others.

What inspires you?

I’m inspired by cozy color palettes, vintage knick-knacks, flowers, mid-century children's book illustrations, the feel and smell of paper, and things that look happy (like cats or cake).

What makes you smile?

Hand-drawn stuff makes my heart happy. All of my work starts out that way, simply with a pen and paper. I love seeing this unique and imperfect human quality that comes out in hand drawn illustration. Whenever I see things out in the world that are created in that style, I feel connected to the art. It usually inspires me to stop whatever I’m doing and make something with my hands.

Most of your coloring pages on Posh Coloring Studio come from your first adult coloring book, Don’t Worry Eat Cake. How did you come up this collection of designs?

Page from Don't Worry Eat Cake Coloring Book by Katie Vaz
From "Don't Worry, Eat Cake"

The idea for the book actually started as a series of “semi-inspirational” art prints. I was going through this stage in my life where I was really lost and uncertain about what I was doing in my personal and my work life. It was the classic “quarter-life crisis” and I was feeling like everyone around me had their lives together and had these paths figured out. I was feeling very down and almost ashamed about feeling so behind, like I missed a memo or something. It was especially hard being bombarded by this every day on social media.

Around this time, I also began struggling with anxiety, primarily social anxiety. Dealing with that while also feeling so inadequate about my professional and personal life path created such a lonely feeling. Every day I was exposed to happy pictures of everyone else looking like they had it all sorted out, yet here I was feeling like each day was a step backwards. Eventually I did open up about it to some close friends. It turns out that quite a few people I know have very similar experiences with these types of things (even anxiety, too), but it was never really spoken about.

After discovering that these thoughts were pretty common in people I knew, I was inspired to create art that spoke to those of us dealing with those feelings. I felt like there are so many inspirations about “hustling” and “having the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé” and not enough about just getting out of bed when that feels impossible and that it’s okay to have just an okay day. Instead of surrounding ourselves with art that can make us feel like we aren’t good enough, I wanted to create something that makes us feel better about any sort of accomplishment, even if that was putting on pants and going outside.

Did the book coloring book involve any special research?

Being a human and a twenty-something seemed to provide the research I needed for these designs :) 

What about your collection of cards? Tell us about ‘em!

Do you ever feel something emotionally, but can’t ever find the right words to say it? That’s me. I’m terrible at talking about my feelings, but not terrible at writing them down on paper. When it comes to my greeting card line, my art captures the sticky sweet, awkward but funny, sometimes emotionally heavy things I want to say to the people I care about. If you want to say something special to the person you care about, my cards have got you covered. (Ed note: You can find ‘em in Katie’s great Etsy store!)

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

I was a gymnast while growing up, for about 12 years starting at the age of three. My favorite event was the uneven bars. When I got older and started going to high school, I switched to cheerleading. I'm super introverted, so that last part is often surprising to people.

What’s your most prized possession?

I think my passport is probably my most prized possession. Traveling is one of my most favorite things ever. I love seeing how it holds a collection of stamps as evidence of all the places I've been lucky enough to visit.


Tags: Katie Vaz, Inspiration