Petaluma’s ‘Poster Girl’ rocks on
Artist Katie Kincade is less known for her name, or her face, than for her unique niche career as a local designer of distinctive rock-and-roll posters.
“More often than not, I’m introducing myself as ‘Katie Kincade … the Poster Girl,’ ” she admits. “Then they know who I am.”
Since January of 2014, the 38-year-old Southern California native has run her own freelance graphic design business, appropriately titled Katie Kincade Designs. Her primary clientele are bands, festivals and music venues, for which she creates “gig posters,” album covers, logos, merchandise and more.
It is, Kincade points out, an occupation that has long been dominated by male artists.
“Being a female creating posters is a lot more rare than male poster designers,” she says, “which is pretty damn cool.”
Over the years, Kincade has designed for such acts as The Incubators, The Dixie Giants, Steve Kimock, and Bobby Jo Valentine. Other musical clients include the Petaluma Music Festival, The Cotati Accordion Festival and the High Sierra Music Festival. Additionally, she’s created a “vanity card” — the distinctive logo images that identify a television or movie production company — for the Hulu television show “Chance,” a project commissioned by show creator Kem Nunn.
When she was younger, Kincade worked various non-creative jobs because, she admits, she didn’t have enough confidence to become an actual, professional, working graphic designer. She served as an independent insurance inspector, and sold almonds at farmers’ markets, all while donating her graphics services to the Petaluma Arts Center, the Rivertown Revival and other local businesses.
It was her design of a logo for the local band The Grain that finally turned her hobby into a business, after the group posted a public request on Facebook saying they were looking for a logo design. Having attended many of the band’s shows and gotten to know some members of the band, Kincade immediately got to work, designing a whiskey barrel logo, and posting it on the band’s Facebook timeline.
The Grain was instantly impressed, and continues to use the logo today.
Shortly thereafter, the band asked her to create a poster for a gig at the Petaluma club Zodiac’s, in April 2014. It was the first gig poster Kincade ever created. Eventually, after designing several more posters for the group, other local bands and venues began to take notice.
And like that, Katie Kincade Designs was born.
“So far, my business has all been word of mouth,” she says. “It’s amazing and fun to do what I do. I didn’t even know this was possible, for a career, until I started creating posters.”
A graduate of San Francisco State University with a degree in art and a minor in graphic design, Kincade enjoys working from her home office. She predominantly works in Adobe Illustrator on her MacBook Pro Laptop, which she connects into a 27-inch display. Depending on the design, she’ll either use her Wacom Tablet and stylus or mouse to create her posters. Each of Kincade’s designs includes the signature logo she’s used since childhood to sign her art — a back-to-back KK logo.
According to Kincade, most of her designs are unplanned and unpredictable. However, her posters will always be 11 inches x 17 inches in size, she says. Her inspiration comes from art, nature and other poster artists from the ’60s and ’70s such as Stanley Mouse, or modern poster artists like Chuck Sperry.
Kincade, who moved to Petaluma in 2005 to buy a home — excited to be close to the city and wine country — says that one of her favorite accomplishments took place at Petaluma’s Aqus Cafe. The owners, who’d seen her posters around town, offered to give her a show inside the café. From July to September of 2016, Kincade displayed over 60 of her posters from local and not-so-local bands.
“It was a wonderful “Fillmore-esque” way to show my colorful posters in one place, and I ended up with many new clients from that show,” she says.
Generally, Petalumans will most likely see her posters in local shops such as Tall Toad Music, and in venue windows including The Mystic Theatre and The Big Easy.
“I still get so excited when I see my posters up in windows around town,” says Kincade, “especially when multiple of my posters are in one window. That’s when I’ll take a picture and send it to my parents.”
Looking toward her future, Kincade channels that old cliché about rock-and-roll keeping a person young. The same, evidently, applies to rock-and-roll poster designers.
“I cannot imagine that ever getting old,” she says. “It’s really special.”
To view Katie Kincade’s work online, visit www.katiekincade.com.