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Rising Stars: Meet Katya Buthker

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katya Buthker.

Hi Katya, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
It’s tough to really pinpoint how it all started. There was always this natural ability to just be able to draw what I saw. I didn’t think it was anything really, maybe something everyone could do, you know? You look at an object, and you draw what you see and it looks just like it. I remember it was preschool/very early elementary that shocked teachers would say things to my parents but even my parents didn’t realize it wasn’t normal. I came from a family of athletes, so there wasn’t anything to really compare my work to.

Fast forward through school, creative in all types of ways, but never once took an art class. My focus was elsewhere; friends, parties, sports, etc. A poster needed to be made or a project required some type of illustration? I got you. Outside of that, I had a hard time allowing myself to sit and just make anything. What if it didn’t turn out perfectly? What would people think of me? Would they think that I thought I was good when in actuality, it wasn’t? So I avoided it. Secretly crippled by perfectionism. A type of fear that I battled my entire life, and to be honest, still do at times.

As the different seasons of life swept through my 20s, something was missing I guess and I found myself gravitating more and more towards art stores. I didn’t have any real knowledge of how the different mediums worked, so I just walked the aisles and bought different things to go home and play with. I started to see what I was capable of, which I never gave myself the chance to learn before. I never really showed anyone outside of gifting projects to my family. I was afraid of judgment, so I was really just doing it for me.

I look back at the times I really produced a lot as I was learning (I’m still learning and I don’t think will ever know what I’m truly capable of). Was and still is times I needed to escape. A safe space where there are no rules except for the ones I create myself. A space I can get lost in and forget the daily struggle or anxieties that came with whatever was happening at the time. I fell in love with the escape and the feeling it gave me when I snapped out of the trance and saw what I could create. Always surprised every time. People still say to me “I DIDN’T KNOW YOU COULD DO THAT!”, same girl, same. I’ve just discovered this myself.

It wasn’t until one of the biggest epiphanies I’ve ever had that I really put myself out there. I had a health scare at the end of 2017. One that left me questioning if I’d really lived up to what I was given and was born with. I questioned why I’d been so fearful of showing that real part of myself, a part of my life I was now proud of and so in love with. Could I leave this world and waste what was given to me? Why have this within me and not share it with the world? Wasted potential then became my biggest fear. That was that. I stopped being afraid of showing myself or caring what people thought.

Since that moment and really tapping into that part of myself, it’s amazing that places it has taken me. The people I’ve met, the projects that have been requested of me. Just a full-blown feeling of alignment. I sometimes ask myself WHY I waited so long to really embrace this part of me, but I know it all happens in perfect timing.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Let’s be real, is anything worth it ever a smooth road? It’s ::funny:: when you realize your biggest struggle or lack of a smooth road turns out to be yourself standing in your own way. That awareness is simply life-changing.

Around the same time I had the realization that wasted potential was worse than showing people who I am and being judged, I was let go from my corporate job. A hard blow at the time, but one of the greatest things that could’ve happened. I saw it as another sign. Another push towards the possibility that the gift I was given could be more ‘secure’ than being in the hands of a corporation or someone else. You can lose that job, but the creativity inside of me literally couldn’t go anywhere. It was all mine.

I do continue to stand in my own way at times, but hey, at least I’m self-aware and know I’m the only one to blame, haha. When I push myself past that insecurity, it’s that much more rewarding on the other side.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
I’m not too sure what I’d say I specialize in but I think blending comes the most natural to me. Whether it is pencil, charcoal, paint, makeup… it’d be blending. It’s strangely therapeutic as weird as it may sound. I actually TRY and make my work more messy and not care so much because I spend so much time on creating that airbrushed look, haha.

I’m most proud of pushing past insecurities. Each and every time I think I don’t know how to do something, I’ve at least tried to and am surprised at how it all comes together. Because of that, I’ve said “yes” to some pretty incredible projects that I otherwise wouldn’t have had the guts to and actually pull off.

I feel like everyone’s style in the art world is different, so I can’t imagine what really sets me apart. Of course, we maybe get inspo from similar places or scenarios, but at the end of the day, no one’s work will be the same. Authenticity though in any scenario, no matter what you do or who you are, will set you apart. I try and stand by that.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
I’ve had quite the crew of people behind me telling me how ridiculous I am forever doubting myself, got to love them for that, haha. My friend Ali I would have to say kept me going along the way. She stood by me when I felt overwhelmed. She helped me build my website. She took my signature and created my logo. She was there to help set up my first show. I’m forever indebted to her time for not only the actual WORK she put in for me but making it fun and less stressful along the way. When I lost my job, she sat with me and talked about the direction I could look at that. She helped make me something I never imagined I could be.

Huge credit to ANYone I’ve come across that live unapologetically authentic. I look up most to the people who believe in themselves and what they were born with. The ones who truly OWN it. I have so much respect and admiration for that that it pushes me to live the same.

Funny story, I had no idea until a few years ago that my grandmother was an incredible artist. I stumbled across some of her work going through a closet at my dad’s house. Turns out, she had a natural talent as well and never really did anything with it. My dad, her son, thought the artist’s ability “skipped a generation” and missed him but at about 61 years old (this was literally four years ago), picked up a paintbrush for the first time and gave it a go. He’s incredible. Ran in the blood the entire time and we didn’t even know it. My dad, never afraid to pursue this new discovery, has since made a whole other career for himself in his retirement. THAT fearlessness to me has been one of my biggest drives.

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Main photo/headshot by Grace Oliver at

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