The people who use our boards.

312 interviews since 2018

Katherine Leiter

Illustrator & Motion Designer

Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?

My name is Katherine, or Kass for short! I generally go by @Piranhartist on several social platforms, with Instagram and Tumblr being my current go-tos for sharing my personal projects. I’ve worked as a full-time freelance artist for over seven years now, namely aiming to do work in the indie games community—but taking on all sorts of projects that come my way!

When I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design for my Illustration degree, I never would’ve expected my primary line of work would end up in motion media. I’d been exposed to the software After Effects simply in an elective course, but wound up taking off with it after becoming fascinated with what I could pull off combined with my already established illustration experience. Since then I’ve gone on to animate not just some of my own artworks, but produce animated bumpers and branding for YouTube and Twitch channels, participate in large-scale animation collabs like Kirby or Rhythm Heaven Reanimated, and more simply work with hundreds of unique clients for their own personal or commercial endeavors.

My most prominent working experience thus far has been with the indie dev team Those Awesome Guys, a Romanian-based publishing studio with employees working remotely and internationally. I got to collaborate with them through the duration of 2022 as a full-time motion designer before an unfortunate downsizing of staff, but it was a wholly enjoyable working experience start to finish, and I’m proud of the games I got to be a part of during my time with their team. (It was because of my time working with them that I’d even invested in my ErgoDox EZ board from how much more typing I started to do once work began!)

It can be hard sometimes to not still be doing artwork in my downtime when I’ve spent the day doing it for clients! I feel like any other artists who read this can relate to the importance of making time for your own personal projects. When I’m not spending time though with illustration or pixel based artwork, I really enjoy dabbling with needle felting or cross-stitch projects! They’re very nice when I want to dig into something more tactile and creative without necessarily staring at a blank canvas all the time. (And any of the needlefelts you see in the attached photos were done by me!)

Whenever I’m not in a creative mood though I’ll be putting another 100+ hours into FFXIV with my partner, or whatever other indie games I’m in a kick with on Steam or my Switch. (Currently been enjoying the title Sea of Stars!)

I’ve also very recently gotten into a massive deep dive with custom website coding and the indie-web revival movement. Creating my own site from scratch went from a curiosity to a full pet project I can work on in my down time. Just adding random pages here or there and having a space to ramble about different topics of interest I find neat. There’s been something very therapeutic about seeing custom cobbled sites side by side like I’d used to admire growing up, and finally being able to take part thanks to the myriad of learning resources there are now versus when I was younger. I’d highly recommend reading the article “Intro to the Web Revival” on melonking.net, or watching “You Should Check Out the Indie Web” by YouTube channel “You’ve Got Kat” if interested at all in the topic!

I also have a handful of passive collection hobbies, between enamel pins, keycaps, Tamagotchis, and most recently now, patches!

Katherine Leiter's patch
Patches: wearable art or cute collectibles?

What hardware do you use?

Besides my ErgoDox EZ board, a lot of my setup is in mind to help relieve my chronic issues with tendonitis and carpal tunnel. Even with all the ergonomics in the world they can still be tricky to deal with when a bad flare-up comes around, but it’s far nicer than what it has been in the past!

Katherine Leiter's setup
Katherine's unusual desk is great for ergonomics

My desk is a Little Tree folding L desk, originally gotten to give flexible room to double the size of my desk for craft projects and the like if I wanted. But instead the “fold” turned into an elevated and oversized keyboard tray, since the one attached below was a bit too low to make use of, and the amount of space it gives to spread my keyboard out was just perfect!

I currently use a Logitech Lift vertical ergonomic mouse and LOFTMAT cushioned mouse pad to help reduce strain in my right arm. I also occasionally pull out an external Bluetooth touchpad for when clicking or scrolling become a bit much, and I need some variation in the movement.

When doing illustration I currently work on an iPad Air 4th Gen with a small foldable tablet stand, while for pixel art or motion media projects I work on my XPPen 16-inch mounted on an extendable Ergotron arm at my desk.

Katherine Leiter's tablet
A professional tablet setup for a professional artist

And what software?

For illustration work I mainly use Procreate on the iPad, with occasional touchups via Photoshop CS6 on my computer. For animation besides After Effects CC, I also frequently use Animation Paper, a currently free-to-use 2D animation software for desktop, as well as ToonSquid on iPad. I also use Aseprite for any kind of pixel-related work, and for all my projects I love to use the program PureRef for mood boards and references. I also really like to use the blue-light filter tool Iris to help customize the levels of filtration on each of my monitors depending on the time of day or other general needs.

Katherine Leiter's keyboard
Katherine has plans to change up the light show

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

I would love to someday collect and cover this keyboard with all kinds of resin keycaps, as well as play with different backlit key options than the blue pudding-cap set I’d found for my current setup. I’ve been using some random stickers to help denote some of my shortcut macros like copy, paste, undo, print-screen, etc., and they’ve served me pretty well for remembering what does what!

Katherine Leiter's artisan keycap
A Kirby artisan keycap waits for friends to join it

The most important part of this keyboard for me has been the flexibility to customize it. Having the Shift, Tab, and Capslock keys near my thumb now instead of my pinkie has been invaluable with relieving some of the most extreme bouts of tendonitis and other nerve issues that I’d experienced in the past.

I’d not realized my layout before was in private, so for any other folks with finger and wrist issues like mine, here’s the setup that’s been working for me!

What would be your dream setup?

Definitely to have an office space that was dedicated to being just an office. Living in a pretty tight space with family has plenty of compromises, meaning my work office and personal bedroom are near one and the same. What’d really be cool is having a fully organized craft cupboard and work station for print or traditional art projects, and on the other end having my computer work station maybe set up with a standing desk and some decorative lights to match!

Katherine Leiter's Tamagotchi collection
Thanks, Katherine! Thanks, Katherine's Tamagotchi!

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