Creating The Sleeping Beauty T-shirt

Elise Chen

Sketch for Katie Rodgers Sleeping Beauty Tee

Image courtesy of Katie Rodgers


Artist Katie Rodgers draws inspiration from the whimsical romance of The Sleeping Beauty in her latest collaboration with Boston Ballet.

Image courtesy of Katie Rodgers

Image courtesy of Katie Rodgers

Image courtesy of Katie Rodgers

Image courtesy of Katie Rodgers

Capturing the magic

When we were brainstorming ideas for The Sleeping Beauty T-shirt, we knew we wanted a design that could capture the grace and magic of the vivacious Lilac Fairy. Naturally, we thought of the talented Katie Rodgers of Paper Fashion. Rodgers became a fan of Boston Ballet while living in Boston for six years. Currently based in New York City, she has also created work for Google, Disney, and Alicia Keys, among others. Now joining us for a second collaboration, Rodgers tells us about her process when creating art, why ballet continues to inspire her, and how she relates to the characters in The Sleeping Beauty.

Tell us about your career path—how have you been able to turn your passion into a full-time job?

I've been painting ever since I was a little girl and it has stuck with me throughout my life. I've never stopped! In 2009 I began posting my artwork on my website, which is where it began to garner an audience. Eventually, I quit my day job (as a designer) and pursued my art full time at the end of 2011. I feel incredibly lucky to have discovered and created my career through a passion I pursued every day for fun. 

You’ve said before that a lot of your work is inspired by ballet. What draws you to this art form and why does it continue to inspire you?

I've always been inspired by ballet since I was a little girl. I did try and learn it myself, but that didn't last very long! Over the years, I increasingly appreciated the form of dance and what goes into it. It's the graceful, effortless beauty and movement seen from the audience, contrasted with the strenuous work, dedication, and athleticism that go on behind it. I find that contrast and mystery so incredibly beautiful.

What characteristics of the Lilac Fairy did you think were important to capture in this piece?

I wanted to capture her power and optimism through her pose, but also have her appear kind and gentle. Her costume is painted in a gestural way to play on the whimsical elements of the story.

Seo Hye Han in The Sleeping Beauty T-shirt

Principal Dancer Seo Hye Han models The Sleeping Beauty T-shirt

Photo credit: Lauren Pajer

What is your creative process?

I start one of two ways. Sometimes I begin with an idea I've had in my head already—I tend to work out details of a painting in my head before doing it—organizing the composition and envisioning it before it exists. The other method is just to sit down at my painting table and start moving paint or a pencil on paper. The best way to come up with new ideas when you can't figure them out in your head is to sit down and just work. Something will usually come out of that process!

This is your second collaboration with Boston Ballet—last time you created a painting for Kaleidoscope, a contemporary program. Did you approach this project differently?

A bit differently. Last time, I was quite literal with the painted translation of the great costumes in one of the pieces. It was bold and graphic, whereas this time the costume and show are whimsical and fairylike. I thought a looser, more gestural approach would work nicely!

Would you rather be Aurora or Carabosse?

Aurora, of course! I love the good and beauty in overcoming something that was an obstacle you couldn’t control.

The illusion we create is intended to deepen your understanding of reality.

Mikko Nissinen, Artistic Director