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Heartist to Heartist ~ Heart to Heart Interview with Artist, Katie Sottak Living Her Dreams in The Keys

By Dawn Dubriel

Key West, FL - Katie Sottaks beachy art reminds me of the Salt Life. I ask her how she feels about the philosophy behind the Salt Life sticker, and she admits she is not always active in the water, but must always live by the ocean. We met many moons ago during all kinds of south Florida art events, and I immediately fell in love with the FUNky shapes, styles, and colors in her art. Each piece is inspiring and collectively makes me want to live the relaxing life by the seaside, enjoying live music with a tropical drink. Since we last spoke, she has traversed the globe, chased her dreams, honed her craft, and is currently living her dream life at the southernmost tip of Florida, Key West. Thalo caught up with Katie to get the skinny on how her salt life of art is progressing.

thalo: When did you first realize yourself as an artist and how did that progress?

Katie Sottak: At three years old, I began doodling on the dining room walls of my parent’s home in New England. Throughout the years, I continued my creative streak and became a self-taught painter. At age 14, I began selling my paintings in the coastal town of Jensen Beach, Florida. I sold my work all throughout high school, then I decided to move to South Florida to attend art school. I realized I enjoyed painting more from my imagination than from traditional instruction, so I continued to create and sell the work that came naturally to me. After traveling abroad and living in Australia, I returned to Florida to make my dream move to the artsy city of Key West to sell my work.

th: At which point did you decide to move to The Keys and live your dreams?

KS:  I decided to move to Key West once my studies were complete and I had enough courage to step outside of my comfort zone to follow through with my goals. It was a rough transition to make it down to the island, but it was well worth every single hurdle.

th: What are you doing there and what is a typical day in the life for you?

KS: After 2 1/2 years in the Keys, I am finally settled into Key West. My first year, I got my license from the city to sell my work, and I began running "Katie Sottak Proprietorship." I would actually head into downtown with a car full of paintings and find a nice shaded spot on Duval Street to start my live painting (and selling). The next year, at a local at a bar, I struck up a conversation with a local next to me over a few beers. He told me he was looking for someone to do some chalkboard art for the bar he was running. I agreed in exchange for a free bar tab. A year later, that same gentleman and I are now the founders for the Island's newest monthly art and music event called "Mystics & Maestros." We created these shows to bring attention to local artists, musicians, and all forms of talent together in one venue to raise money and support local charities. A typical day in the life for me would be waking up mid-morning to check if I have any commissioned requests/website orders, dropping paintings off at my local framers, going to the local art store, and networking with local artists/musicians for my events.

th: Which artists do you love, and are influenced by?

KS: I have so many favorite artists, but my top three would have to be Tim Burton, Norm Daniels, and a group of artists named "The Highway Men." Those artists all have such different styles, but they all inspire me in their own way. Anything whimsical, vibrant, stylized, funky, nautical, or tropical can spark something in my imagination.

th: What inspires you?
KS: A wide array of things: other artists, landscapes, moods, lights, and shadows. My biggest inspiration would be moonlight. It has become my main focal point in my "night scenes" which are my most popular series of work.

th: What are your favorite materials to use when painting?

KS: I use mainly acrylic paints, but every once in a while I will dabble in oil or watercolor. As an artist, I think one should keep their mind open in trying new mediums. My style and techniques actually change when I use different mediums, and that is something I feel more artists should experiment with; to explore something else they aren't used to, in order to see what may develop.

th: How would you describe your style?

KS: I try to have a very distinctive style that I call monochromatic. I will choose one color and paint the entire canvas with different variations of that color. My favorites are my night scenes which are monochromatic paintings using all hues of blue to represent the darkness of night, and bring out the highlights of moonlight.

th: What are your goals for the future?

KS: My goals for the future are to continue my "Mystics & Maestros" events and continue selling my work locally. I absolutely love bringing together my community and letting artists have a shot at getting their own work out there. So many talented people are discouraged and don't believe they can get their work exposed, but I love showing them that they are capable of chasing their dreams and practicing their passions. It's the greatest feeling to allow another talented individual the ability to showcase their work and to feel their gratitude in exchange.

My long term goal however, and the main reason I moved myself to the island, is to open my very own gallery in Key West.

You can see Katie Sottak’s work via her website ( and facebook pages: (

All photos are courtesy of the artist.