Southern Artist’s Retro Prints Blend Nature and 80s Design
Story: Erin Dickson
Retro prints from the 80s are back in style, and southern artist Katie Whatley has blended them in with inspirations from nature to create apparel.
These designs, which she creates using the cyanotype printing process, are sold on her Etsy shop, CrescentPrinceArt.
Whatley was introduced to cyanotype during an Alternative Photography course at Birmingham-Southern College in Birmingham, Alabama. She had been interested in photography for a long time and felt cyanotype was a unique way of broadening her work.
“I feel like a lot of people claim to be photographers and many of them go about the same way of trying to earn money from it,” she said. “I felt like if I wanted to do something with my photography I needed to find something different to do, something that could make my art stand out. If I was going to proclaim myself an artist, I had to find a niche.”
Cyanotype is an alternative photography process that produces a blue, or cyan, print. It is made by painting a chemical solution onto a water-safe surface that is then oxidized by UV light, according to Parallax Photographic Coop.
The inspiration for her designs comes from 80s patterns. They are composed of shapes, lines, dots and other geometric patterns which she describes as busy and sometimes a bit chaotic.
She takes these patterns, as well as inspirations from nature, to create her designs. She is also heavily influenced and inspired by the “cottagecore” trend and feels like that is one of the audiences she is aiming to please.
“My grandparents have a piece of property out in the countryside where I actually take a lot of my photographs and [get] inspired by nature,” she said. “Because there aren’t a lot of other distractions around, I can really focus on the intricate details.”
Along with selling cyanotype prints, Whatley also prints her designs onto t-shirts. She wants to wear the art and create something comfortable that is also artistic.
“Making a physical print or t-shirt with my photographs on it makes it so much more special than one of the many photos I have sitting in my phone,” she said.
Whatley said she was drawn to the cyanotype printing process because of its abstract view of the world.
“When printing a cyanotype, it brings a photograph to a different level of artistry, something closer to what paintings and sculptures are,” she said. “Since the printed photograph comes out in shades of blue and white, the photograph is veering away from realism.”