This week, we’re launching our “Kentucky Wildlife” print and t-shirt by Kentucky for Kentucky’s own June Tate, an artist and writer based in Lexington. June’s illustration portrays a selection of sweet, whimsical, native Kentucky favorites straight from the wild. When asked about her process for choosing her subjects, Tate explained, “I did a bit of research on the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife site to find a list of animals found in Kentucky. I tried to pick a diverse crew of critters. My favorite little animal on the design is the bat because his facial expression is truly happy and earnest.” June’s print includes a range of regional plants and animals – a Kentucky Warbler, Cardinal, Copperhead snake, Red Fox, Deer, Black Bear, Painted Turtle, Monarch Butterfly, Gray Bat, Goldenrod, and Tulip Poplar.
Epic ‘Kentucky Wildlife’ Prints: Designed, Signed & Numbered by June Tate of Lexington, Kentucky. Printed on 12” x 14.5” French Paper Company Paper by Thoroughbred Printing in Lexington, Kentucky.
Magical ‘Kentucky Wildlife’ Apparel is also fresh off PushPush Press in Lexington, Kentucky: for the adults, we have very limited edition white American Apparel Summer Shirts, unisex sizes XS-XXL; for the children there are grey American Apparel Shirts, sizes 2, 4, 6.
Available Friday, May 23rd at 10:00am. Get it all while you can.
June recently began making a life within, and placing her irreverent illustrative mark on, our favorite state. After going to college in Oberlin, Ohio, she spent time in Berlin and New York City before returning home: “One of the reasons I moved back to Lexington was the freedom and open space to develop my interests. I don’t feel like I am part of a creative community per say, but I do find myself surrounded by creative people.” Though she sought a variety of experiences away from our fine Commonwealth, Tate arrived ready to soak up the wide-open spaces, where her one indulgence includes driving around in the car while blasting music, an experience she was denied in New York City. Beyond the freedom of the road, the fauna, flora, and varied landscape of Kentucky has shaped the way Tate places her pen to paper and what she chooses to draw.
“I’m drawn to the great natural beauty of Kentucky. I think it’s one of the prettiest states. I also like that Kentucky has a rich heritage of artists and craftspeople. As far as how Kentucky influences my artwork, I would say the most direct example is the prevalence of cows in my sketchbook. I love their spindly bodies and big eyes.”
With a body of work that obviously hearkens toward childhood, whimsy, understated movement and line-oriented simplicity, Tate finds inspiration from a wide range of designers and illustrators, but also from the way that children draw, and how they freely interact with their own creative energy. She elaborates that, with children, “what comes out on the page is so uninhibited, sincere, wild, and unpretentious. That is how I aim to feel when I draw.”
Tate studied creative writing all through college, but often found herself looking at William Steig cartoons and feeling increasingly drawn to illustration, an aspect that she eventually incorporated into her major. Tate has never considered drawing her singular focus, though she grew up surrounded by creative, artistic women who encourage her to see beauty in the everyday. She observes, “I’m inspired by the artists in my family. My grandmother has the best sense of design of anyone I know. She used to design wallpaper, ties, and feed sacks. Everything she touches turns into art. My sister is an amazing painter with an innate sense of design and color. Being around artists inspires me to be better and more expressive in my work.”
After doing a range of illustration work while in college, she became more invested in the commercial side things once she landed in New York. As she explains, “the biggest jumpstart for my illustration work was the silkscreen classes I took at the School of Visual Arts in New York. It’s a profitable skill to have because hand printed work just looks so good!” Here at Kentucky for Kentucky, we turn many of our projects into screenprinted work. Therefore, finding designers with an eye toward the screen makes transitioning their illustrations across a range of surfaces a bit more seamless.
When asked about her involvement at Kentucky for Kentucky, June told us, “I had heard of the company before and admired its ethos. Kentucky is an underrated and misunderstood state, and I love that Kentucky for Kentucky challenges that preconception.” Once she moved back to Kentucky, June began working at Kentucky for Kentucky, doing both design and administrative work, first as an intern and now as a part-time employee.