A myriad of artists have called Mississippi home over the years, from painters to writers to musicians.
For Madison resident and artist Katie Rogers, her home state also serves as a source of inspiration for her works.
Rogers initially was graduated from Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in English. After graduation, she held a variety of different jobs for a few years, including working for a local florist, selling classified ads for the Starkville Daily News, among others.
“I did photography on the side, and I would doodle on Post-It notes all day,” she said. “I just remember thinking, I wish I could make a living doing that.”
She bounced the idea off her husband, Jonathan, and ultimately decided to go back to school to pursue a degree, which would help her do something she really loved. So, she applied and got into the graphic design department at Belhaven University around the same time she found out she was pregnant.
“So, I quit my job, went back to school to get another bachelor’s degree and had a baby,” she said. She was pregnant with her first son, Mack, back in school and working a part time job all at the same time.
After graduation, she was on the job hunt again and took a position with Anthropology, building their intricate window displays.
“It was so much fun, because I love the hands-on work and art,” she said. It was also at this time she began to teach herself to carve wood to make block prints and created an Etsy page featuring her work.
When she found out she was pregnant with her second child - whose name is Adam but is known as Cheesy - she accepted a job with a marketing agency in Jackson.
Working in that field, she conducted research on current and outgoing trends. This is what led to her obsession with the concept of flat design.
“A lot of people who I follow on Instagram were doing these digital pieces with lots of color, lots of bold black lines, lots of imagery,” she said. “I thought that would be very cool to do for around here.”
So, in her spare time, she began designing Mississippi imagery in flat design, which she has turned into stickers. The stickers are in the shape of the state of Mississippi, with localized imagery for different areas of the state.
The first ones she created had a lighthouse and the other a magnolia as the centerpiece.
Then, she began to localized them to certain areas, such as a Jackson-themed sticker featuring images from the fair or orange traffic cones, or a Madison-themed sticker with bricks or pineapples.
“I thought, I can take all of this iconography from around the state, whether it is places or ideas or buildings and things like that and make them into little representations of Mississippi,” she said.
After creating the pineapple sticker jokingly for friends, another friend of hers who went through IVF told her that pineapples are a symbol for people going through that process and bought a sticker for that reason. Rogers loves that about art, that each piece, no matter the size or content, can have a completely different meaning to each person who sees it.
“When I’m at a market, and when someone will buy a sticker or say oh this one is my favorite, I usually try to ask why,” she said, as she loves to find out what meaning it holds to each person.
An affinity for art is something Rogers had from a young age. The desire to create is innate.
Her mother is an artist and worked as an art teacher, and at one time, drew maps and water meters for the city of Jackson for 25 years before it was computerized.
“I was always having random art lessons,” she said. “On a Saturday, we would go somewhere to paint. Or she would teach me about Van Gogh and DeGas and other artists and all the aspects of art and design.”
They would also make regular trips to the Mississippi Museum of Art.
“I don’t even know how often we would go. I know their permanent collection backwards and frontwards at this point,” she said.
While she has had much training, from her mother’s impromptu lessons and college courses, she is self taught in many ways. In fact, she learned programs like Illustrator, InDesign, Photoshop and Procreate, along with block printing, from videos she found on the Internet.
“I watch tutorials everyday now,” she said.
Her artwork doesn’t stop at the Mississippi stickers. When she isn’t working, she is typically creating digital illustrations, carving blocks for prints, painting with acrylics or wood working in the shop and making furniture with her husband.
The Mississippi Museum of Art, Old Capitol Museum, the History Museum and the Civil Rights Museum all carry her stickers.