Artist Interview with Cat Whipple
Artist Cat Whipple talks about using Photoshop to create art and selling art classes on Udemy in this interview.
Cat Whipple Bio
I am an artist, photographer and graphic designer. I have used Photoshop for over 20 years in my personal artwork and professional career as a graphic designer and photographer.
Being a Photoshop expert has helped me land a job at a big daily newspaper (The St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota); helped me become a graphic designer; given me the skills to work as a freelance photo re-toucher; and given me the confidence to sell my artwork online (you can see my work on FineArtAmerica).
I have taught numerous real-life classes in Photoshop, photography, and art journaling and mixed media collage. I now teach Photoshop courses online at Udemy and soon I will also be offering art journaling and mixed media courses on Udemy as well.
Please tell us what you do.
I’m an artist that uses Adobe Photoshop to create multi-layered artwork that focuses on cats, women, and trees mostly. I love whimsical artwork and my artwork reflects that. My artwork is an extension of my belief that the world is a magical place.
I’m also a mixed-media collage artist as well; using canvas board, paints, stencils, paper, and markers. I like playing with mixed media, getting my hands messy, cutting and pasting and stenciling. What fun! I am currently teaching classes in mixed media at a local art studio and love how that whole process is completely different from Photoshop. I am now in the process of starting a new website just for my mixedmedia artwork at catwhipple.com. And I plan to start teaching mixed media courses on Udemy.
Please tell us about your art background?
I’ve been an artist my entire life. My dad was an artist and when I was little we used to sit at the kitchen table where he taught me how to draw. His favorite medium was pencils, so I grew up learning the basics of drawing and shading. In grade school and high school, I took every art class that was offered, where I learned how to use acrylic paints, watercolor and other mediums. I majored in commercial art in college, so my whole life has been focused on art.
My motto for creating and teaching art is: “Creating art is a gift to the world and to ourselves”. I think everyone is an artist of some sort, whether that’s painting, dancing, woodworking, cooking, etc. We are creative beings and our souls need to create. I believe the process of creating art is more important than the final outcome.
What do you like about Photoshop as an artist?
I teach Adobe Photoshop on Udemy, with my courses geared specifically toward artists (not photographers like most courses). Photoshop is a tool that all artists should know at least the basics of – since everything is digital now and it’s important for artists to know how to scan, color correct, and size their artwork for printing and online viewing. But even more fun is that once a piece of artwork is in Photoshop, the sky is the limit to what you can do with your artwork. My website collagecastle.com has some Photoshop tutorials and my digital artwork. I also offer some coupons to my courses.
What I love most about Photoshop is that if you really mess up the artwork, you’re not stuck with a ruined piece. The basic trick to using Photoshop is using layers for every different part of the artwork, so that all the layers can be manipulated and changed. If you mess up a layer or that layer doesn’t fit with the overall piece, you just delete it. It’s like magic!
You sell your art on FineArtAmerica, is that a good
website to promote and sell your work?
FineArtAmerica doesn’t bring me lots of traffic or sales but I think that’s mostly because I don’t promote it. I do make some sales on it but that isn’t my overall goal for that site anyway. I just wanted a place where I could upload my images and buy products with my artwork on it. It’s really fun to see my artwork on a tote bag and get complements from people. I chose FAA because of the way they display the artwork, it gets broken up into pieces that can be viewed up close, instead of letting people view one big image. This keeps people from downloading your artwork and using it without permission, which is something that many artists are dealing with – theft of their artwork, especially from other countries where our copyright laws don’t apply. (Another important reason why artists should know about proper sizing of their artwork when posting them online.)
Why did you choose Udemy to sell your classes?
I chose Udemy to teach courses because I liked the overall look and feel of their website. I first took some courses from them and after liking the overall experience I decided to become an instructor. There are lots of things I love about Udemy, mostly I love that ANYONE can teach there. They don’t have a gatekeeper or a vetting process, other than that your courses need to follow their guidelines and your videos need to be good quality. Other benefits of Udemy include: they have millions of students, they promote their courses everywhere, and I don’t need to do much marketing to generate an income, although I’d certainly make more money if I were better at marketing. So in that sense, an artist can be as successful as they want on that site, it just depends on how much effort they are willing to put into it.
I don’t like that when I post promotional coupons for students (or for my websites), affiliates can grab those coupons and put their own coding in it and take the majority of the commission away from me. That really needs to be fixed. I also don’t like that some people are stealing the entire courses and selling them on places like Fivver. (But that doesn’t just apply to Udemy, it’s happening on every teaching platform.)
Do you have any advice for artists interested in
creating their first course?
The first course is the most daunting. Not only are you coming up with a course, but you also need to figure out where to sell it, how to market it, and all the other logistics of having an online course. That’s why I use Udemy, most of that work is done for me. Once you create that first course, the second one is so much easier.
My advice is to start with an easy, short course – something that won’t make you feel overwhelmed. I made that mistake with my first course, I think it was about 4 hours long. Not only was I creating an in-depth course, but I also had to learn how to use screen capture software, video shooting, editing software, and Udemy’s course creation rules. It was a ton of work but I’m glad I did it because I learned that I actually like that process, including the video editing (which I thought I would hate). If you create the first one and you hate the whole process, then at least you’ll know and you can move on to something else. But if you like it then you have another tool for getting your artwork (and your love of artwork) out there in the world for other people to share in.