How Katie Rodgers Started Her Illustration Career

Katie Rodgers turned her passion into an illustration career — and believes that you can do the same.

Today, more and more people are pursuing their dreams and building creative careers online. Illustrator, artist, and Skillshare teacher Katie Rodgers shares how she turned her hobby into a full-time illustration career. Watch her story, then launch your own creative career with a side project perfect for every creative hobby: teaching online!


KR: Hi, I'm Katie Rodgers, and I'm the artist and illustrator behind Paper Fashion.

I started Paper Fashion in 2009 and at the time I was working full-time as an apparel designer in Boston as well. So, I started painting a new fashion drawing every single day, and it became a real obsession for me, and I devoted myself to spending a lot of spare time doing that. Eventually, after three years, I turned my passion project into my full-time career, focusing on the fact that I am doing this because I love to do it, and I love the freedom of it.

I love so much to sit down, late at night, and to just paint with no idea of where it's going to go, if I'm going to have anything good out of it – and that's when the best stuff happens.

Personal work, nine times out of ten, is why I got a new client. I recognized that very early, because clients were coming to me and they usually will send you "oh we love this that you did," and it was almost always something that I did just for myself.

I remember illustrating Jenna Lyons. I put it out there and, you know, a few days later I got an email from her assistant that was like, "Would you want to send it to Jenna?" And I was like, of course. So, I sent the illustration to her and she wrote back to me a handwritten letter, which I thought was incredible. 

SK: Do you still have that letter?

KR: Yeah, you want to see it? "Dear Katie, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your illustrations. We would love to post you on our blog, too. Incredible. Warmly, Jenna."  That opened my eyes to how powerful something you just create in your home, at night, on the side – it can go that far. And I thought that was very inspiring.