Spreading love through art

We chat to artist Katharina Tinkl about her beautiful illustrations and project to help animals

Everyone has a different vegan 'awakening' - for Katharina Tinkl, it was a film that helped her to take her final step to becoming vegan. We chat to the passionate artist about the power of movies, documentaries and art to change people's minds and behaviour.

Hello, Katharina! Tell us about your vegan journey.

Before I decided to become vegan at the beginning of 2020, I was vegetarian for most of my life. When I was 11, I went on a farm holiday with my family, where I got to hold a baby pig in my arms.

That moment made me realise that these animals could just as much be my friends as my beloved companion animals at home - so I became vegetarian. As I grew older, I liked the idea of veganism from an ethical perspective, but it felt more difficult to realise.

So, even though I kind of knew being vegan would be an ethically more consistent choice, I managed to push that knowledge to the back of my mind, so that I could
comfortably live with it (also genuinely believing organic farming was actually kind to animals and, therefore, a good compromise) - as we humans often do.

An interview with actor Kostja Ullmann recently touched upon this. It said that vaguely knowing something is bad doesn't necessarily make you change. You need something inside you to 'click' in order for you to be actually willing to face certain uncomfortable truths - and to actively make the decision that you want to change.

That being said, before I became vegan, I had no idea how bad it all really was. The moment that something 'clicked' for me was when I watched Okja. I am not sure if Paul Dano and Steven Yeun (who played members of the Animal Liberation Front, ALF) are vegans in real life, but, in a sense, I became vegan because of them.

I realised I didn't really know much about the ALF, so I went on to read Ingrid Newkirk's Free the Animals. It sealed the deal - by the end, the only logical conclusion left for me was to become vegan.

\"I hope to inspire people to begin making more compassionate and kind choices in their daily lives\"

When did you decide to combine veganism with art?

This happened organically as soon as I chose a vegan lifestyle. I felt it would be great if my illustrations and paintings could inspire someone else to become vegan. I also wanted to help animals directly, which is why I created my collection Art Helping Animals.

I wanted to directly help animals, while, at the same time, promote a compassionate way of living. While I believe that art that points out the sadness and gruesomeness
of the meat, dairy and egg industries has its place, I feel more compelled to depict the beauty and wonderfulness of farm animals, their loving relationships and unique characters.

To me, they are magical individuals who deserve all the love in the world. They love their babies, want to play and enjoy chilling with their mates. This is what I would like to convey to people, so the motto of my art is 'Spreading Love Through Art'.

The collection contains original artworks, prints and even a printable colouring book - a particularly special project for me. The book is in aid of Aimee's Farm Animal Sanctuary in Queen Creek, Arizona, and contains 24 illustrations of the animals living at the sanctuary and 24 matching quotes.

Other artworks support sanctuaries such as Santuário Vale de Rainha in Brazil, charities like Veganuary and activists. Each time someone buys from this collection, I donate a percentage of profits to the respective cause. So, with every purchase someone makes from Art Helping Animals, they, too, will be helping animals in need.

What do you aim to achieve with your artwork?

I would love for my art to reach as many people as possible and to show them the incredible beauty of the wonderful individuals we so anonymously call 'livestock'. I hope to contribute to creating the awareness that those animals are not 'stock', but sentient beings with unique personalities - just like our animal companions at home.

By highlighting that farm animals share the same traits as the furry and feathered friends we lovingly invite into our homes - and also as us humans - I hope to inspire people to begin making more compassionate and kind choices in their daily lives.

How useful is art in spreading awareness of animal welfare and vegan issues?

Art presents an amazing opportunity for spreading awareness of animal welfare, vegan and environmental issues. Just look at my journey - even though I vaguely
knew that the dairy, egg and honey industries were bad, it was actually a film with a fictional story that set me on my vegan path.

Who knows, if it hadn't been for the likable characters in Okja, how long it would have taken me to finally, really face the uncomfortable truths of those industries?

Maybe not everyone is willing to watch a brutally honest documentary about the gruesome reality of slaughterhouses (though I really wish everyone consuming animal products would watch at least one); but maybe art can help to also reach those people. A piece of art can be less confrontational and more subtle (though that doesn't apply to all pieces of art) while still being thought provoking. And, by that, it might get through to people in a different way.


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