We had the good fortune of connecting with Kat Furtado and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kat, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
Well, I’m an artist. I think most people who have not been in the fine art world for long (and I consider myself one of these people in a lot of ways, for sure, because I only began painting a few years ago) would assume that to find art, you may need to go to galleries or museums. Instead, now there are hundreds and thousands of pieces of art at any individual’s fingertips just by virtue of social media. You can still go the gallery route too. It’s truly an art collector’s world.
The entire art industry has changed in the last five to ten years, and that process was certainly expedited by the pandemic. So many fine artists had to be flexible and move their businesses online from actual storefronts, markets, festivals, and even galleries or museums. In the past, a person really almost required gallery representation to sell their work. With the advent and expansion of social media, fine artists have been able to build up their own communities in a way that allows for direct communication with buyers, Collectors, and admirers. It’s a pretty spectacular exchange because for what may be the first time in modern history, people can watch artists at work from every angle and find the perfect pieces for them with no middle man. It’s mutually beneficial because now artists run their entire businesses working directly with clients and Collectors, meeting them and getting to know them. It’s truly one of my favorite parts of selling my work.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I consider myself a contemporary abstract mixed media artist. I love using new materials in my work, and I really love pushing the boundaries of what I expect to happen. I use watercolor, gouache, and acrylic paint. I love digital media, and I also really enjoy collage as an expression of self. Using all these tools together, I create vibrant works of art that hold and convey my unique perspective on the world.
If I had to identify something that sets my work apart, it’s that my career as a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) is still very much present in the art I create. SLPs provide therapeutic interventions and accommodations which help people communicate their needs, wants, and ideas most effectively. Sometimes this is required due to a disability, a medical condition or injury, or even degenerative disease. And even that’s an oversimplification because we work with patients over the entire spectrum of their lives in healthcare, education, and private practice settings. Seeing a little one say, “Mama” for the first time, or helping someone recover their language after a stroke, as an example, are some of the most extraordinary things to observe and facilitate. It’s one of the most beautiful gifts we can give others–to be able to communicate. After all, communication is the only thing that truly connects us to others.
Much in the same way, I want people to feel their own perspectives validated when they see my artwork. The hope is always that a person may somehow see themselves represented in my art in a way that makes them think, “I’m not alone”. Even in abstraction, where the work is far less representational than say, a painting of a pond with trees in the background, there’s a way to make people feel seen, heard, and loved. Abstract art is so emotional. And it’s a dream to imagine that through color and line and shape someone might feel seen in a way they have never experienced–appreciated just as they are. If I can communicate non-verbally through my art that a person’s experience matters, that they matter, and that their life has value, I’ve done everything I could possibly dream of doing in the art world. That’s why art is so powerful to me.
Over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a lot about holding my own voice close. There are so many opinions from so many directions in the art world. Anyone can tell you your art is fabulous and anyone can tell you it’s awful, but in reality, the only voice that matters in creating art is your own perspective and foresight.
I don’t create art FOR the validation of others. I create art to validate my own experience and the experiences OF others. I create because I love to push the boundaries of expression and communication by using paint. Art allows us as humans to share the marks on our souls.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many wonderful places to go and visit in San Diego. From shops to restaurants, there’s really always something brilliant to do.
We’d go to Mostra coffee, for sure. I am coffee-obsessed, and I love the coffee (and staff) there. I frequent it whenever I can. We’d find some local businesses to order delicious treats and we’d head to Torrey Pines Reserve for a day of beach time and relaxation. Maybe we’d hike a bit, but we’d definitely spend time listening to the waves of the ocean. I could do that all day!
I love love love heading to Little Italy for the Farmer’s Market, and even to Balboa Park just to walk and see all the natural beauty and the exquisite museums. My kids are totally obsessed with the Scripps Aquarium, so I’m confident we’d end up there too. One of my favorite spots to go is Old Town, so I know we’d make some time to find some great Mexican food and enjoy the vast, beautiful history of San Diego.
It’s kind of one of those cities that feels like a small town, but there’s always something new to see and explore.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I absolutely owe my entire journey as an artist (and an individual) to my partner and kids. When I met my husband, I was only 17. We’ve been together since then, and I’d never seriously painted a day in my life past elementary school. I’m sure it was at least a small shock to him that, even having had a wonderful career as a health professional (an SLP), I felt a real pull towards creativity after having children. The truth is that I found something in myself when I began painting. And when I decided that I wanted to pursue art, my husband never questioned whether it was a good or bad decision. He supported me and believed in me from day one. He never made me feel like I needed to prove myself. Just doing it day in and day out was proof enough.
My kids are the other major motivation for me. When you have kids, you see the entire world for them in every single second. You have these moments where you look at them and suddenly see all the things that could be. You want them to feel loved, accepted, and to find fulfillment in their lives, in their careers, and in their purpose as humans. I recognized very early on in motherhood that if I was going to tell them they could do anything, I needed to show them that it was possible. I also needed to show myself that I could do the thing that felt almost insurmountable, but which I knew would bring me immense joy and a strong sense of achievement.
So, here we are.
Professional photography of artist by Kate B. Myers Photography Photography of artwork by Kat Furtado Art