17 Jun

Pepper Talk with Kate Rodman

Welcome back to Pepper Talk, this month we’re getting up-close and person with Kate. Just a little background before we get started, Kate is one of our Senior Designers, and has been with 11P for 4 years. She’s worked on a wide variety of print and digital projects and specializes in being an illustration chameleon and incorporating artwork into a lot of her design solutions. Read her Q&A below!


1: Do you have any nicknames?
One time, when we went out for Chinese food I accidentally pressed the gas when turning on my car (it was in park) and it revved really loudly, startling all the people passing by on the sidewalk. My friends absolutely lost it and came up with Kate “hotrod”man – my speedster, aggressive driver alter ego.

2: What is the first thing you do when you wake up?
Usually, just check my phone. I don’t open any emails that will require too much thought at that point, but I’ll just get an idea of what my day is going to look like.

3: How would you describe your design style?
In my personal work, I love organic details. The more flourishes and leafy bits, the better. I love to blend illustration and typography together – to me, custom type is where illustration and graphic design overlap beautifully. For 11P work, it’s very nice to have a creative director there to rein me in. I tend to start “over the top” with adding extras and things that excite me. I’d like to think this makes their job easier (much simpler to remove/edit than come up with new ideas for things to add)… but maybe that’s just wishful thinking 😉

4: How did you get started?
I’ve always been an independent artist since I was little – if my parents couldn’t find me, I was probably drawing on a wall somewhere, or giving the dog a new haircut (sorry…). But the “fine artist” life was never for me. I am too comfortable with structure and rules – graphic design was a natural fit. When I went to Towson University for my BFA, one of their requirements for a class was to attend AIGA’s Ink & Pixels portfolio review. Luckily, I happened to sit down in front of Kristen that day, and the rest is history.

5: What are your favorite tools of the trade? What are the worst?
For thinking & sketching, I use cheap mechanical pencils and copy paper. No fancy notebooks for me. I also adore my lightbox for tracing during sketching – don’t know what I ever did without it. On the computer, I spend most of my time in Illustrator but I also love InDesign. My least favorite are Office products… Microsoft & Apple don’t play nicely, and I have no patience for that wonkiness. Would much rather use Google products for those things.

6: Do you have a set process when beginning a new project?
Generally, I start with information gathering. I start taking rough notes of important messages or goals, etc. Then I’ll probably start a private Pinterest board to just gather style inspiration. Once I have a handle on that, I roughly sketch (a LOT) until I have several options that feel right. After running that by the team, we usually pick 1-3 to refine. I’ll use my lightbox to re-draw the idea larger and in more detail – something that I can easily trace in Illustrator. Most of my thinking happens on paper. (If I find I’m struggling on the computer, it means I need to go back to the drawing board)

7: What do you draw inspiration from?
Like everyone else, Pinterest and Instagram… I love following illustrators/artists that use color in unexpected ways. My favorite pieces of art are the ones that look great at a glance but then you dive deeper and realize, oh wow, that tree is actually bright orange because of the light. Or the shading on that person’s face is actually green. The serious color mastery based on light just blows my mind.

 8: Rapid-Fire Round:

Caffeine or no: Never
Sweet or Savory: Savory – love salt too much!
Favorite Movie: All the Harry Potters
Guilty Pleasure: Watching Friends and The Office on repeat, almost constantly
Hobbies: Board games/puzzles, plant-based cooking, socializing with people’s dogs, thrift shopping (most of my furniture and clothes are secondhand), and crafts!

9: Okay, admission time… If you could pick one design that you wish you had come up with first, what would it be?
Hard to choose, but this piece is the one I keep coming back to for inspiration. Love the message too – I am a chronic procrastiworker.


Thanks for meeting Kate. As always, stay tuned for next month’s Pepper Talk to meet another member of our team!