Interview with Katherine Cheng Franke


Today we are interviewing Katherine Cheng Franke, an inspiring and talented
Traditional Illustrator based in Las Vegas.
Katherine, also known as Katie, has an unique style of painting.

We are curious to know how she sees certain things, what kind of tools she works with
and how do you get known nowadays.

Let us ask this inspiring artist!


At Work














Can you introduce yourself?

Hello, my name is Katherine Cheng Franke.
I moved to Las Vegas US from Hong Kong to live with my husband Keith, and to be closer to his family.
I am a painter, and my husband manages my work.


The art world is not a silent one. It’s all about communication, and
connections. The more people you know, the better.


What are a few ‘basic tips’ or must-knows for every painter
who is new in this field?

“If you can see it, so can they”.
Meaning, if it’s some minor “error” or “mistake” that you yourself can detect on a piece you are working on, chances are the audience can see it too.

For me it’s all about “showability”, and with time as our worst enemy
it is best to maintain productivity.
I don’t like working on paintings that can’t be shown to some extent;
even studies should be taken very seriously.
When constantly tempered and honed, time-management and a critical eye
could be your best friends in this line of work.


The Night And is Usurpe


Which materials do you love to work with?

I used to love working with watercolours; discovering my own
technique and style was a greatly fulfilling.
Since June of this year I decided to step out of my comfort zone
and venture to oils, which I have grown to understand and love.
I can still work in translucent layers, like with watercolours,
but with much less preparatory effort involved between each layer.
It is by and all, a more forgiving medium, giving me good results in a shorter amount of work time.
I can achieve greater tonal contrasts using oils, in a fraction of the time that it
would take using watercolours.
I am using Holbein water-miscible oils, along with their specific line of mediums.
Also among my favourite materials are hot press paper, a drop lead
pencil, and an electric eraser. I love drafting on paper.


Of Angels In The Deep


Some painters use Photoshop to finish their traditional paintings by
retouching it a bit, what do you think about this? Do you use
programs as well?

Yes, it is essential for me to adjust a finished painting in Bridge and Photoshop.
My paintings are documented via photography, not
scanning. Images on the computer often appear slightly dull compared
to the real thing, so the lighting and colours are livened up a bit
for a more intense viewing experience – as close as I can get to the
actual painting. Fortunately I use a lot of colour in my paintings
and enjoy working in high detail, which translates quite well to digital.


What has been the most difficult painting you have ever drawn?

So far my most recently completed painting was my greatest challenge:


And Then The Sky Fell


Then again, it’s the same with each new painting.
There’s always something new to learn, some higher hurdle to overcome.
My next oil paintings are going to be frightfully difficult.
They are no fun otherwise.


There are moments when we feel like anything good would not comes out of our hands, we call it a ‘creative block’.
In these times, what would you do to inspire yourself again?

I don’t really experience “creative blocks” per se, moreso it’s the
motivation to think a way through some very stubborn obstacle during
the painting process. When an accident occurs that’s bad enough to
stop a painting in its tracks, but not bad enough to ruin it, it can
really wear me down as I try to come up with the best solutions.
I often just zone out and stare off into space, while constantly
dreaming up scenarios and their various consequences.
Interestingly this is the same thought-process when I am coming up with an idea for
a painting – watching the painting paint itself.


When creative blocks do occur, it might be encouraging to think of
those who inspire us – their failures, how long and hard they worked
to win our admiration.
If someone else can do it, then it’s not impossible.


Broken Melodies


What is your favourite tool?

My most faithful tool is my Italian drop-lead pencil, a lovely gift
from a dear friend and fellow artist.
Right now my favourite is Isabey’s mongoose filbert brush.
Before it was Windsor & Newton’s Series 7 Kollinsky miniature 0 brush.




Last but not least: How is life as a freelancer for you?
Where do you start as a traditional painter?
Do you have an agent?

It would be impossible for me to work as a painter if it wasn’t for
my husband’s support and encouragement.
He does everything he can to ensure that all I need to worry about is painting, nothing else.
Not every working painter has that luxury. I am incredibly blessed.

It is not essential to have an agent, especially in the beginning, as it might prove an untimely investment.


Panda Reindeer


Keep producing, add growth and progress to your portfolio, set up a
solid personal website, keep a select portable portfolio (postcards,
or digital devices)

Grab a reliable reference on pricing and
ethical guidelines, and cultivate a confident mindset.

You will then be armed well enough to approach  galleries.
There are hundreds of thousands of them, and most cities provide comprehensive gallery lists.
Visit as many as you can. Acquaint yourself. Join mailing lists.
Actively show your work. Email galleries with your website link.

Learn  to talk  freely about your work.
The art world is not a silent one. It’s all about communication, and
connections. The more people you know, the better.



You can see more of Katherine’s work on her portfolio and
you can follow her on Twitter @snowmask

Leave a Reply

3 Responses to “Interview with Katherine Cheng Franke”

  1. Faheema Patel

    I have always enjoyed Katie’s work, and it’s been a pleasure seeing how she works and reading this article. Great interview!

  2. Deyvison Garcia

    awesome work and technique is amazing the combination plastic and digital art…. excellent interview

  3. Raymond

    Ok, I have seen Katie’s work on the net in a few places and in some of the local papers as I live in Las Vegas myself. Now I have the urge to see some of her work in person. :)
    BTW, Las Vegas has become a great place to see some excellent art, yes you can drop a few coins and have the casinos rob you blind along the way. However, Las Vegas has a collection of Picasso, about 100 art galleries as each major casino has usually two or more of them. The architecture is incredible, the lounges are full of art like the Cosmopolitan casino bar inside that is three levels all inside of the largest crystal chandelier in the world and if you want to get noticed the cosmopolitan has a 65 foot LED screen that displays tons of artists work 24/7 and smaller monitors everywhere that displays art work.