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Kathryn Rathke

Kathryn Rathke - International line illustrator. Seattle

With her fluid, natural drawing style, Kathryn Rathke has a rare talent for capturing the individual look of the person she’s drawing in just a few quick lines. Authors, singers, politicians – her portraits are instantly recognisable but so simply drawn that they’re always easy for people to relate to.
Based in Seattle, Kathryn sometimes creates an image using just one fluid and continuous line, another trick to hook in the viewer and engage them with her client’s project. According to the Seattle-based artist she owes her drawing skills to her grandmother, who taught her to draw and supplied her with books by Arthur Rackham, Maurice Sendak and William Steig; and her father who was president of an advertising agency and brought home reams of paper for her to practice on.


Kathryn does everything digitally in Photoshop and Illustrator using a Cintiq screen by Wacom. She draws portrait subjects many times over from different angles, learning their facial features so that her final work is instantly recognisable.


Expressive and calligraphic, there’s a unique sense of gesture in Kathryn’s line illustrations. She works in a variety of styles, using shading, texture and coloured backgrounds in different ways to achieve a unique look for her client.


2005 – AI-AP Award 2010 – Communication Arts Award of Excellence 2012 – AI-AP Award

Client list

Newsweek, NY Observer, Vanity Fair, Time Out, The Evening Standard, O Magazine, Brooks Sports, Penguin, Make Magazine, Smart Money, Rolling Stone and Welt am Sonntag are just some of Kathryn’s clients.
"I am a huge admirer of your work. I have been looking for an artist with your kind of deft line for months. Then found you! I would love you to be our signature artist"
Tina Brown, The Daily Beast/Newsweek
It's stunning Kathryn! I don't know how you do it. And I love the way you have combined the slick lines with the smudgy charcoal too. I have no changes or tweaks. Fantastic! And Paul, the Editor, loves it also. (Plus you got it in early which is an enormous treat for me, it helps me out later in the week, when things get esp hectic.) Thank you so much!
Sarah Habershon - Art Director, The Guardian
Kathryn was a dream to work with. She nailed the sketches and final art, really portrayed the essence of each person perfectly.
Patrick Greenish, Highlights
I love my owl illustration. Your line work is beautiful, everything I'd hoped for and more. I'll be sure to send you the advertisement that will be put together by my designer.
Peter Rockwood, Rockwood and Perry
The client is very excited. We are receiving very positive press. Thanks again for your contribution (to the Wendy's logo).
Young-Sun Kim, Big Picture Branding
Kathryn’s work is wonderful for its specificity captured in a minimum of graceful fluid lines. She adds such energy and joy to every project.
Angela Riechers - Freelance Art Director, O the Oprah Magazine
"Thank you so much for your wonderful work and patience, You have been great to work with."
Ben Brannan, The Evening Standard
"We'll all be cheering when we see this in the theatres at the resolution it was meant to be viewed at! Your drawings are beautiful on the computer screen and i'm sure it'll only be more breathtaking on a giant screen!"
Gary Tam, Imaginary Forces (for illustrations for titles of 2007's Charlotte's Web)
I just wanted to let you know that I received such lovely, gushing feedback about the logo and your illo. Again, thank you so much.
Kelly Jean Davis, Little Owl Urns
"That was fast! Kathryn, you are an absolute gem."
Stan Lim, Imaginary Forces (for illustrations for titles of 2007's Charlotte's Web)
Kathryn has illustrated dozens of head shots for us. Her illustrations are spot-on and the employees LOVE the drawings of themselves. And to top it off - she is easy and fun to work with!
Tessa Sussner - Art Director, Sussner Design Company - Minneapolis
Kathryn's portraits strike the right balance between caricature and portraiture. Her likenesses are always spot-on--she interprets, but never over-exaggerates the subject's features. I'm always impressed with the gesture and beauty of her calligraphic line work and the fun she has with the details in her illustrations.
Donald Partyka, Americas Quarterly
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