Artist Blake Kathryn can usually be found wielding a palette of pastels and neons while touching upon nostalgia, states of consciousness and vices. Her work represents a playful curiosity peering into the darker corners of our psyche with a use of lighthearted and dreamlike compositions.
Tapping into her own self reflection and the rapidly changing world around us, Blake brought Seven Sirens to life, a short film exploring the familial bond between, and allure of, the seven deadly sins.
H+: What drove you to create a short film on the seven deadly sins?
B: I love designing one-off studies but felt the need to commit to something of deeper substance a couple months back. The desire to create was there, but I felt my non-commercial process was falling into a routine versus driven by passion. Overall I wasn't in a positive place with how my work felt limited within its own constraints.
Mulling over this and leaning a bit into my surrounding negativity I narrowed in on an idea to create a futurism meets deadly sins series. I've always adored Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood's unique perspectives of the sins and wondered if I could achieve a cohesive universe too. Valentine's Day was two weeks away when the concept sparked so I further committed to the idea as the theme, then, felt timely.
The scale of the series immediately expanded as I flushed through Pride's design quite swiftly and saw limitation in only creating still frames. The shift to a short allowed me to push outside of my comfort zone as well as develop small windows into each siren's personality over the course of it. It also meant I got to explore a subject I deeply love, cinematography, and study hands-on the nuances of minimalist framing and color-grading.
H+: A use of sirens and fembots is prevalent in your work. What about the female form inspires you?
B: I think the love for it began in college when I took a figure oil painting class. I'm not especially talented in the painting medium but found myself always looking forward to the sessions. Capturing the anatomy of a figure and leaning into the uniqueness of each was such a fresh challenge. Years later, when I fell into 3D, that love rekindled almost immediately. With more time having passed since, new influences have intermingled with these studies such as the exaggerated femininity of drag, contrast of hard surface modelling and sci-fi inspired materials.
H+: As we find ourselves in a new world of scarce supplies and social distancing, how do you find these seven deadly sins come into play in everyday life?
B: I read an article the other day on how, at least in the United States, vices were reaching steady highs during these stay-at-home times – alcohol, porn, drugs, etc. During the creation of this, which began pre-panic and finessed during what is hopefully our peak period, I felt myself shifting from which sin I related to–circling thru most of them. Being isolated long-term comes with the gift (or burden) of time for honest self reflection and what brings out our own extremes.
H+: When bringing these women to life, do you have any particular muses that come to mind?
B: I have an ongoing library of non-traditional beauty looks, pin-up illustrations, unique models, and retro beauty standards (20's to current). I relied heavily on these references during early phases to avoid the "blank canvas" mindset. As I began designing out each siren I tried to imagine what niche of allure each should embrace. For example, Lust was always going to be a Jessica Rabbit homage. Leaning into aesthetic preferences I knew certain details from the start as well. For example, I wanted to intermingle the softness of femininity with the hard touch of robotics through contouring, accessorizing and hair.
H+: Which of the seven deadly sins do you identify with the most?
B: When I started I felt like Pride, both in regards to my feelings towards the project and reflecting on recent accomplishments. As I transitioned into COVID-life I transformed 100% into Gluttony. I'm coming out of this quarantine rocking a cute lil potbelly and as someone who both enjoys cooking and is trying to mitigate stress, I'll embrace it for now.
See the full film here: