Born and raised in New Jersey, Kinsey Ratzman knew she was going to be an artist from a very early age. After all, both her mother and grandmother are artists. “When I was little,” Ratzman says, “I would always say that I wanted to be an artist.” And yet, as years passed by, art starting taking a secondary role in her life.
Then, about two or three years ago, she picked it up again. She became quite serious about her art, yet again, a few months ago. Today, Ratzman’s visual art stands out through its vibrant colors. “I like having colors play off each other,” she explains. She likes to capture reality in her work, but she also likes to add more colors to her artwork, “to make it appear more alive. It’s more visually appealing to me, personally.”
Art can be political, therapeutic, sending a strong message, or supporting a cause. For the artist, visual art is all of the above. In particular, art is a form of therapy. Ratzman shares that she had to stay in the hospital for a long time, and that art, creating art, has helped her through the process. “While I was [in the hospital],” she says, “I started trying ink and watercolor, which is a medium I’d never used before, but now I do it all the time. Art is especially a therapeutic outlet for me, especially when feeling sick. I put a sense of being alive into my painting.”
Ratzman has also created a few political art pieces. She points out that she’s “done a lot of stuff with bees,” because saving the bees is another cause she supports.
One of her personal favorite pieces is her Tokyo piece. She spent a long time working on it, in order to include all the details. Another favorite is her Venice piece. She explains that, while spending one year abroad, in Europe, her cousin kept sending her pictures. She painted the Venice piece from one of these pictures. The original was very beautiful in terms of composition, but very dull in terms of color. “So I completely changed the color theme,” she says, “[making colors more vibrant] almost like the rainbow colors.”
Color, vibrancy and capturing details define Ratzman’s artwork. “That’s why I like working with ink,” she says. “The ink allows me to create a very detailed piece, but then I go in and add color.”
She starts by sketching out the piece, sometimes in pencil (but she prefers to do it in ink), trying to put on paper the image she sees in her mind. “I spend a lot of time thinking about it, before I sketch it,” she says. Then she applies the ink, which “is the base of everything,” she explains. “The sketch is generally done in one setting. The ink usually takes longer, and then I go in with whatever color medium I’m using. [While] adding the color, I might [also] add a bit more ink, if necessarily.
She considers the process of creating art “a process of growth.” Therefore, she offers, “don’t wait until you master it all [to actually start creating art].” For a long time, that kind of thinking held her back. Rather use art as a form of personal expression. Experiment, and take time finding and defining your artist voice. “Be open to change.”
A lot of her work, at the moment, includes graphics for the school newspaper, as well as art for her art classes — she’ll graduate with a double major in political science and studio art, and she’s passionate about both of them.
“I’m not quite entirely sure what I want to pursue as a career,” she says. “I’ve gone back and forth between [the idea of] doing art full time and politics full time. Either way, both [art and politics] will be involved in my life.”
She points out a resurgence of political artwork happening nowadays. Especially in the present political climate, politics and art can collide. She mentions her recent visit to a museum in New York City. “They had a whole exhibit on political [art] pieces. A lot of them were a commentary on our current state of politics, and also relating it back to other political periods in the past. I thought it was interesting how passionate and expressive these [art] pieces were. [They] inspired me.”
Ratzman’s own coming out is related to art. She came out about two years ago, when art took, yet again, a front seat in her life. “[Coming out] helped me a lot, as a person, and also as an artist,” she says.
Her advice is to “wait until you’re ready to come out. I think the hardest thing isn’t coming out to other people but accepting yourself first. In some ways the world [today] is more accepting, but in our current political climate most people feel even more scared to come out. So you have to be comfortable with it, yourself.” She further explains, “[Coming out] is not a linear process. It’s something that you may continue doing your whole life.”
She adds, “my coming out process is very weird. My parents threw me a Pride party when I came out. The story went viral. It was in a lot of art magazines. I was on ABC and NBC for it. Coming out to the entire world after that was a little overwhelming. I don’t know if I was entirely ready for that at the time, but I think the most important thing is to be comfortable, [first and foremost] with yourself.”
Find out more about Kinsey Ratzman by visiting her online at etsy.com/shop/KinseyRatzmanArt