“Art is subjective”

That’s a common saying that comes to mind every time I find myself discussing art with someone.

Some people tend to disagree and believe that art is either good or bad based on merits of their own score card, but I fall firmly in the camp that believes all art is truly subjective.

There’s a lot of famous art that I just don’t get.

People will stand in awe of these images, monuments and so on while I struggle to find any interest in the piece.

It’s not the artists’ lack of effort, and certainly my lack of engagement doesn’t damper or discredit the reaction of others. But that doesn’t change the fact that these widely popular pieces, such as the Mona Lisa, fail to illicit any emotional response from me.

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t relate to them.

As someone who was born in rural South Carolina, I often yearn to see beautiful city skylines. They’re my absolute favorite scenic view and because of this I always feel more impressed with an artists’ rendition of their own city than Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous piece.

It may sound silly to some, but I can say in absolute earnest that I enjoy short comics of a black and white Vaporeon living her day to day life more than any famous piece I’ve seen before.

And that’s why, I’m extremely happy to introduce all of you to Katie Emma.

She is one of my favorite online artists and the creator of both Vap Comics and her ongoing web-comic series Taxicat!

I reached out to Katie in late January to see if she would be interested in doing an interview for Positive Plugs. She agreed and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to speak with her about her work, how she got started, why she picked Vaporeon out of every other Pokémon and more.

Katie stuck out to me because her art has brought me happiness dozens of times in my day to day life. I can’t seem to not smile when I see her comic strips pop up on my Twitter feed and she uses her art to promote happy vibes and good feelings – much like we try to do here.

I hope you all enjoy reading our exchange and viewing a small sample of her work.

If you’d like to follow Katie, be sure to stick around until the end of the interview for links to her social media!


Tyler Steele (TS):

Hi, Katie!

First of all, thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me and for agreeing to be featured on Positive Plugs.

Personally, I’m a big fan of your art and since this is the first time we’re doing an artist feature on the website I’m really excited to talk with you and share your work with folks!

If you don’t mind, could you introduce yourself to readers who may be learning about you and your art for the first time today?


Katie Emma (KE):

Hello!

Thanks for having me, I’m looking forward to it.

My name is Katie Emma and I’m an artist based out of San Diego county. I create 2 different comics: Vap Comics and Taxicat.

Vap Comics is a series of comic strips about Vaporeon and her daily life as she pursues her goal of meeting (and drawing!) every single Pokemon on the planet. Taxicat is my original watercolor webcomic about an unlikely friendship between a rat and a cat. I like making art that encourages and supports people.


TS:

That’s wonderful!

My first exposure to your work was via a Reddit post in, I believe, 2018.

While I can’t remember the exact strip as I’ve since deleted the account I had it saved on, I remember feeling refreshed when I saw it because my feed had been a whole mess of negativity that day and your comic was the total opposite of that vibe.

I don’t think you actually made the post but while reading the comments I ended up finding a link to your Twitter account and I’ve been following you ever since.

I think Taxicat is absolutely beautiful – I adore the color so much! – and I certainly want to talk about it more in just a bit but first I wanted to talk to you about Vap Comics.

I have a burning question that has often crossed my mind since stumbling upon that original Reddit post.

Out of the nearly 900 existing Pokémon, why Vaporeon?


KE:

That’s so funny! I think I remember the post you’re talking about- it was an r/gaming post that hit the front page. I was very surprised about that and rushed into the comments to post the source, haha!

Thanks very much! I chose Vaporeon because I honestly think it looks really funny. I know a lot of people think it is beautiful and graceful, but I think it looks extremely foolish with those horns and the big fan around its neck. Like, how is it supposed to swim with all that??

Anyways, I thought a funny looking Pokemon would be best for a funny strip.

I was also considering Farfetch’d, though!


TS:

You don’t happen to remember which strip made it into the post do you? If so, this would be a great place to slap it in the middle of the interview for our readers!

Also, I’m feeling personally attacked right now. Vaporeon is my favorite eeveelution! … I’m also have a really hard time finding any flaws in your logic, so you win this one!

I’m curious how Farfetch’d would have panned out. I’ve always pictured him as a more serious character and now I’m imagining this little guy waddling around like he runs the place while literally no one but himself takes him seriously.

Is there any particular reason you settled on Pokémon as opposed to another franchise like Digimon or Yu-Gi-Oh or something?


KE:

I do remember which one! Its the “Video Games” one where she dreams all day of playing games when she gets home from work, but then doesn’t have time, haha. It seems to have struck a note with a lot of people.

Yeah, I think that’s why I almost picked Farfetch’d. It’s so serious and grouchy, and a lot of the humor in Vap Comics is based on Vap being prideful…

Well, Pokemon has always had my heart more than any other franchise… I think the world of Pokemon holds vast possibilities for storytelling and creative endeavors. Vap Comics in particular feel a bit like the world of the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games, don’t they?



TS:

Ah! That’s the one! I love that one so much!

If you would have gone with Farfetch’d would the strip have been called Fetch Comics? Because if I’m being honest, that’s kind of catchy.

Also, that’s a very fair statement. I’ve always loved Pokémon and the world it’s set in. Particularly in the anime that world feels very grandiose and exciting with a huge number of possibilities – including Vaporeon working at a coffee shop and struggling to remember if she should add cream or not.

While I wish I could agree with you on the Mystery Dungeon bit, I’ve actually never played one outside of the demo currently on the Switch! I’ll be sure to remedy that soon!

Is there any reason you decided to start a shorter one off type of comic with Vap Comics as opposed to the ongoing in-depth style like Taxicat?


KE:

Fetch Comics! That’s so cute.

I definitely recommend the Pokemon Mystery Dungeon games if you like Vap comics, the characters are full of personality and the games have wonderful stories.

To answer your question- Vap comics started out as simple doodles to make my friends laugh, and sort of catalogue my daily life- I used to put a date on the top of every comic, like a diary entry. Over time, I began to take inspiration from the manga “Azumanga Daioh“, which features vertical 4-panel strips and simple, slice-of-life style humor. They were easy and fast to make, and I like working with the 4-panel style, because it lets me pace out the humor and punchline in a fun way.

Here’s some Azumanga Daioh strips, as an example. I even borrowed the format of titling each Vap comic, just like this manga does!



TS:

Those are really cute! I’m glad this interview is in text because as I have no idea how to pronounce “Azumanga Daioh“, but it’s really neat to see material that you drew inspiration from!

You said that you used to date the Vaporeon strips like a diary, is that something you picked up as a self-challenge to create art daily or was it more of just a way to unwind?

And to follow up to that, I’m curious, how long have you been drawing and what initially sparked that interest for you?


KE:

Just a way to unwind and make little notes of funny things that happened to me, to make other people laugh.

I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid- when I was very small, we lived on a ranch with chickens, cats, snails, etc. and I had a passionate interest in animals that my parents supported.

So I was always drawing birds, bugs, cats, or any critter that caught my eye. I remember when I was in kindergarten, I brought home my monthly class journal and my mom counted that I had drawn 14 different distinct species of birds!

So that’s where it all started for me.


TS:

It’s really interesting to me that you drew that many different species of the same animal. When I was in kindergarten, I drew birds by making a wavy ‘m’ looking shape with a short middle line!

Did living on a ranch have any sort of influence over the creation of Taxicat which consists exclusively of animals?


KE:

Well, I only lived on the ranch until I was 5, but I think it was the spark that started my lifelong love for animals.

Taxicat was influenced by a lot of different media, including the Redwall book series, Pokemon, City of Ember, and Dinotopia. I mostly read animal-based fiction while I was growing up.


TS:

Have you ever read the “Warrior Cats” books by Erin Hunter? I remember reading a few of those during my last few years in High School and your character Oliver in Taxicat always makes me think of them for some reason!

Also, with Taxicat, do you have an ending in mind or do you plan on keeping the series running until you feel like the time is right?


KE:

Yes I have, I used to read those to death when I was younger! They really captured my imagination. Oliver *does* kind of seem like a Warrior cat, doesn’t he? Haha.

I do have an ending, yes! The entire plot has been written out since the very beginning. Some of the details are vague in some sections and I resolve the plot points as I paint them, but the overall plot has already been decided.



TS:

Do you see the conclusion of Taxicat coming to a head in the near future, or does the series still have a while to ride?


KE:

That’s a great question! I’m currently not able to work on Taxicat as much as I’d like due to my busy schedule. But there’s a total of 3 chapters, and we’re about 1/3rd of the way through chapter 2, if that helps answer your question.


TS:

That’s completely understandable, unfortunately life gets in the way of doing what we love sometimes! What about Vap Comics? Any plans to bring our blue girl’s adventures to an end soon?

(please say no)


KE:

Nope! I’ll be continuing Vap Comics for the forseeable future, I love working on them and I love how people react to them. No ending planned for Vap’s adventures!


TS:

Yay! I’m so happy to hear that!

Before I let you go, I have two more things.

First of all, do you have any advice for budding artists’ who may want to start their own online series?

Second, is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers? Your social channels, website, upcoming projects, etc?


KE:

I think my biggest piece of advice is to just start. It doesn’t have to be earth-shaking, huge, and most importantly, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just START! You will learn how to do what you’re trying to do on the way. Don’t fall for the mindset of thinking you need to be an expert before you even get started. You can do it NOW! Social media will be your friend if you can find a way to just start putting out regular creative content and letting the algorithm promote you.

The best way to support me directly is subscribing to my Patreon (you can see Vap comics and behind-the-scenes artwork early here!) https://www.patreon.com/taxicat

You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter to keep up with my work.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/trulyavaporeon
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/owlburrow/

And of course, don’t forget to check out Taxicat for a bit of reading 😉
http://www.taxicatcomic.com/

Thanks so much for having me on Positive Plugs, it was great to talk!


Katie has created some wonderful art and I’m very thankful to her for agreeing to interview with me and allowing me to share her work on Positive Plugs.

This was an entirely new experience compared to what we usually do here, and I’m proud to say it was a good one.

While Katie is the first artist we’ve featured on the site, I’m hopeful that in the future I will continue to find creators that I adore and be able to share them with all of you.

After all, Positive Plugs is about sharing positive experiences and who better to speak with than the people who create those positive mediums?

Below, you can check out a gallery of some of Katie’s favorite Vap Comics pieces – as well as some snippits of Taxicat!

Thanks for reading!