The artist of life: Kitty Ritig : Illustration through Augmented Reality | Sunday Observer

The artist of life: Kitty Ritig : Illustration through Augmented Reality

Kitty Ritig, the name is not unfamiliar at all in the virtual space and has been very much known for her creative expression as an illustrator. Kitty has been creative since childhood and her grandmother who happens to be an art teacher was her muse in her creative life. Kitty grew up in the comfort of her vast collection of fairy tales, folk tales and mythical legends and no wonder those stories have stimulated Kitty’s vibrant imagination which she later brings out through her creativity.

“Even as a child, I never liked to live an ordinary life. It’s so chaotic and boring. I always lived in a fantasy bubble which I have created for myself. My grandmother was my inspiration and she was the connection to open up my creative soul,” Kitty says.

However, she recalls, it took her many years to listen to her creative soul and become an artist. All her life art was the only way out from the misery of life; but it took years for her to start calling herself an artist and share her art with the world. Although water colours was her medium in painting which were well received, she has gradually shifted her medium into illustration and today she is much more confident to present herself as an illustrator.

The visual culture nowadays considers illustration as one of the most versatile art forms. Somehow, it has crossed boundaries between fine art and drawing into an unclear area, and has consistently provoked debate. Although in other parts of the world illustration has been identified as one of the emerging contemporary art trends, here in Sri Lanka there is hesitation to do so.

“Therefore, to identify oneself as an illustrator is ambiguous,” Kitty says.

As Kitty explains the form of illustration can be defined as amorphous and indefinite and it is a constantly challenging notions and perceptions of contemporary image making.

“Like photography and printmaking, illustration has often been questioned for its intent, such as, ‘isn’t it commercial or is it art’? For me, the answer to that is obvious. Yes, it is art which can also be used commercially like every other form of art,” she explained.

As a genre, illustration has been born out of many things, and grown to be broader in its context through new media and technology. Illustration today shares a valid platform with fine art. It has often been partnered with the publishing industry, advertising, or used politically for satire. “However, recently illustrators went beyond caricature and visual representation, to observational statements about current trends and popular culture. Contemporary illustration is a new movement with the illustrators drawing inspiration from graffiti, fashion, computer games and animation. There are fewer boundaries and more friction,” Kitty explained.

Speaking about her recent project ‘Bedtime stories for kids over 30’ she says she has dedicated the collection for the ‘misfits’ in society. As she observed living in an Asian country, till you become 30 society will treat you like a kid and you wouldn’t be treated like an adult even if you wanted to. However, once you hit the fatal number 30, suddenly you’ll be treated like an adult (and this time you cannot deny, even if you wanted to!)

“Suddenly you have to have a perfect adult life with a solid financial, educational and marital status. This is the reality of almost every average middle-class woman that I find so hideous and unfair,” Kitty said.

Elaborating her project she explains, “the unconditional positive regard is a key factor for the psychologically healthy individual.

This is the main argument in Humanistic Theory put forward by Carl Rogers. But to grant positivity unconditionally to the seemingly non-deserving, is scant. A source might seem unattainable, yet Rogers’ theory is on track. Positive regard is soothing, especially, for someone who has been hungry for comfort, to the point where one begins to run back to the source repeatedly, call it love, habit or addiction. In the end it’s just the yearning of a yellowed patch of grass for a bit of sunlight. A journey through uncertain paths, where sources are not ideological, rarely intentional, never long lasting.

These miniature windows show the beatings of a bunch of hearts, beaten and beating for a bit of comfort, a bit of home. But bear in mind, this is home as they know it. Therefore, it’s forewarned not to get all worked up. It’s suggested to empathise just to float through these stories as a kid would, through bedtime stories,”

‘Bedtime stories for kids over 30’ is based on six true stories she encounters through her close friends and surroundings. To relate these six highly emotional stories she used illustration as her medium and taking another step forward she made all the illustrated images alive through Augmented Reality (AR) and this is the first ever exhibition in Sri Lankan history of contemporary art where the artist has used AR technology for the creative piece.

The Youth Observer readers too will get the opportunity to experience this cutting-edge technology which has been used in art by following the simple instruction given below the illustration.

“I think it was through discovering this genre of art that I became absorbed and my passion for art became more serious. I learnt Graphic Communications and Illustration at one of the leading private universities in Sri Lanka and it was through this course that I really found out who I wanted to be as an artist. I had not explored digital illustration before studying for my degree and I distinctly remember that milestone in my life. Suddenly, I had found a style of illustration that just clicked, and from that point on I have not looked back. Over the years, and through lots of experimentation, my illustrative style has grown and evolved, leading me to my current work,” Kitty said.

Being self-employed, and creating a business all by herself by making a name in the field of illustration art, was not a decision she made lightly. “I knew it had many risks attached to it, but I was determined. I had a great desire and above all, I was passionate about the direction I was headed,” said Kitty.

Speaking about the process of her work she said, “I always start by having a good vision in my head of what I want to create. Sometimes I go straight to the computer and start drawing and I can continue drawing all day. It’s like I get lost in another world! Other times I doodle a few sketches on paper. If I do this, it is always very rough and usually to help me with the layout or experiment how the space will work. I love to research, too. I like to find images that I know would inspire me as I create my designs.”

Kitty exhibits most of her work through Instagram as she finds Instagram to be a helpful platform to get work out there into the world. “Instagram is so fast, everyone is on it all the time (in good and bad ways). But in the way the app is built, it can be a bit soul destroying to be posting things you’ve put so much heart and soul into, for people to just scroll by. So, I started trying to make stuff that would engage people. To try and use it in a positive way to tell stories, make people laugh or communicate something more than just the aesthetic. I’m not sure if it always works! But I know Instagram at its best is a really great way to connect with other artists, and when it works like that it feels good, and not like you are a tiny speck in the void of the internet!” Kitty added.

It says you are the artist of your life; Kitty is one bold example to prove it and besides being her own creator of life, art has become the only thing that gives substance to life. “Art is the only life I know…” Kitty said.

‘Bedtime stories for kids over 30’ by Kitty Ritig will be exhibited at the Master of Fine Arts Degree Show 2019 on October 28 & 29 at the JDA Perera Gallery, Colombo 07.

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