Artist Profile: Kate Zessel

Whistler, British Columbia, illustrator Kate Zessel draws her inspiration from the mountains where she lives and from the elusive creatures that inhabit them. The 25-year-old Vancouver native grew up spending her weekends in Whistler, where she moved full-time after graduating from the University of Victoria’s graphic-design program. “It was when I moved up here [to Whistler] that I began to draw with this style,” says Zessel. “When I go out for a hike or a bike ride, what I see and experience influences the way in which I illustrate these animals.”The furry fauna in the Coast Range, such as bears, wolves and deer, are a recurring theme in Zessel’s work, as are the now-scarce bison of British Columbia. Strong vectors, hatching and polygonal patterns complement facial portraits of the creatures, depicting the wild places where Zessel gains creativity whenever she takes a break from her home studio.

Her work appears on everything from snowboards to yoga mats, and she is a regular fixture at local live paint events, cementing her signature style as a fixture of the Whistler arts scene. She continues to develop her work with commissions for custom surfboards, tattoos and even children’s books.

Check out her work online at

-Vince Shuley

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