My name is Cat Coquillette, and I’m currently writing this in Chiang Mai, Thailand (follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter!). I am a location-independent artist, formerly based out of Kansas City, who now travels the globe for inspiration. I incorporate my artwork into my travels, capturing motifs from around the world. I’m also the face behind CatCoq, an illustration and design brand.
I started my career in the design agency world and am now working for myself as a commercial artist and brand designer. The leap to entrepreneurship was terrifyingly uncertain, but has paid off tremendously. I now have the freedom to travel the world and work from just about anywhere.
My Office (AKA Coffe Shops)
My office changes daily, although it’s usually in a coffee shop somewhere on the globe. I’ve been living in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the past couple months and am now relocating to Bali, Indonesia to try something fresh and new.
I enjoy immersing myself in the great outdoors, so my artwork is typically more nature-inspired (animals, foliage, organic patterns) than anything else. My artwork is most known for its bright pops of color, vibrant typography, and a blend of hand-painted brushwork and clean vector illustrations. I illustrate in a variety of mediums, including digital, watercolor, ink and gouache.
I have always gravitated towards the arts. In college, I pursued a BFA in illustration. I packed my electives with graphic design courses, and after a few classes, I was smitten. I couldn’t choose between the two, so I decided to double-major. That was the best decision I could have made. I knew I wanted to start my own firm at some point, so I also enrolled in business minor courses.
Our professors expected a lot from us, so my courses were very demanding. I pretty much lived in the Art & Design building on campus during my junior and senior years. (I even had a blanket and a favorite spot to nap when I needed a break.) Our assignments gave us a well-rounded foundation in design; we learned web, interactive, motion graphics, animation, branding, illustration, typography, campaigns, publication design, etc.
The essence of design is problem solving, so every project ensured that we were focused on custom design solutions. I studied in Germany for a semester during my junior year and it was there that I got hooked on travel.
When I worked a nine-to-five, I got into a habit of coming home from work and diving into a painting. It was the perfect way to relax after a full day of staring at a computer screen. I’ve been painting for as long as I can remember, so this wasn’t anything new. One day, I was scrolling through artwork on Society6 when I realized, “My work could be up there.” It sounds so trivial, but this was a huge leap for me.
Before this, all my creative output was divided into two categories: client work and personal work. Selling artwork online was a sort of bridge between the two. I was no longer painting just for myself, but for others as well. I started posting my paintings on Instagram and in the matter of a couple years, went from having about 300 followers to 10,000. Opportunities began to bloom from there– people began reaching out for custom illustration or design work, I began selling through a larger variety of print-on-demand platforms, and I opened up my own online store.
Pretty soon, it just made sense to make the leap and pursue this full time. It was terrifying to leave behind a job that I’d loved (especially with all its securities like a steady paycheck and benefits) and take a gamble on myself, but it ended up paying off. I’m now pursuing what I absolutely love, earning a viable income, and am making all my own calls.
Two of my biggest passions in life are art and travel. I incorporate one into the other as often as I can. While exploring new places, I’m always storing up ideas for things to paint. I can point to different paintings and tell you what spot on the globe inspired each. I capture motifs with my camera and use the photos as reference when I’m sitting down with a paint brush.
I left the country with a couple brushes and a travel set of Winsor & Newton watercolors, but have accumulated a collection of brushes, paper, paint, and tools while on the go (For the specifics on the materials I use, click here).
I scan my paintings from print shops I find in different cities so I can upload my artwork online, then mail the original paintings back to The States for storage.
If you’d like to learn more about how I make passive income through illustration, check out my guide for artists by clicking here! I also just launched a brand new Skillshare course on the same topic (click here to view it!)