#CLEative Groove: Meet Katie Uher, calligrapher, watercolor artist, and founder of ALittleAfterNine

Our #CLEative Groove series features Q&A profiles on our city’s creative makers and shakers! Read on for our next installment with Katie Uher, a Parma-based calligrapher and watercolor artist who founded ALittleAfterNine.

How long have you lived in Cleveland, and where do you currently live? We have lived in Parma for the past six years, but I grew up in the suburbs of Akron.

Name something local that helped to shape your creativity as a kid: My mom was a stay-at-home mom who essentially made our entire childhood Montessori-based. We were allowed to paint, color, create, build with wood and tools, and mix spices in the kitchen while filming "cooking shows" with the family tape recorder. Her open-mindedness about play has guided me so much in my life as a creative, as a teacher, and as a mother.

What do you do for work? Share a bit about how ALittleAfterNine came to be: I am a full-time kindergarten and first grade teacher, and ALittleAfterNine is the creative outlet that helps me unfold at the end of my school days. Back in 2016, I took a class at The Dress in Medina called "Cocktails and Calligraphy" where we dabbled in the basics of pointed pen calligraphy. I hand-addressed and completed spot calligraphy for my own wedding invitations shortly thereafter. From pointed pen, I taught myself how to letter using a brush marker, and that naturally led into my favorite type of lettering—using a watercolor paint brush.

Share a bit about your creative process: Aside from the class I took in 2016, I am self-taught. My favorite motto is "progress over perfection" and I remind myself of that mentality daily. There was truly a natural flow from learning to work with a pointed pen into using the brush marker and then finally working primarily with watercolor. I absolutely love creating pieces of art with strong feminist sayings and accompanying them with light and beautiful florals.

In your opinion, what are Cleveland’s best-kept cultural and creative secrets? I find so much joy and inspiration in being outside at the different parks and gardens around Cleveland. The secret little hidden paths around Edgewater Park are where we took some of our wedding photos, as well as our maternity photos. Looking at them, you'd never know we're so close to downtown Cleveland. I love the little bits of beautiful nature you can find tucked into our city.

What are some of your other creative passions, and how do you indulge them locally? Food and cocktails are two of my most favorite forms of creativity in Cleveland. My husband and I love exploring new restaurants around the city whenever we're able. One of our tried-and-true favorites is Tremont Taphouse, where we know we can always find an awesome new beer and something delicious to eat.

Any favorite local artists or galleries? At the start of my handlettering and calligraphy journey, I was naturally drawn to work created by Lisa Quine…and I still love it! I also love artwork created by Lauren Skunta of Elbow Grease Design and Shari Escott of Paper Cutz Vintage.

Share a fun fact about you that might surprise other people: I am a two-time marathoner (Cleveland Marathon being the first one I completed) and I've run something around 10 half-marathons!

If you were a Cleveland landmark, which one would you be and why? I adore the Cleveland Cultural Gardens. The variety of greenery and florals is enough inspiration to keep a watercolor artist painting for an extensive amount of time.

Favorite Cleveland mural/piece of art? I love the mural painted by Arastasia Rolain at Walhburgers in downtown Cleveland. It is beautiful and whimsical and absolute perfection.

A typical day in your life might include… Loving on my daughter, Luella (1.5 years old); getting in a run or a ride on the Peloton; answering emails with current brides and clients; and slightly after 9 p.m., I might find some time to finally sit down and paint!

Anything else you want us to know about you? I love so many things about having a creative side hustle—from having a way to express myself to hand-painting some amazing floral bouquets, wedding invitations and inspirational quotes to getting to know the truly incredible people of Cleveland. It has been such an honor to share my work and continue to learn from other local artists and entrepreneurs. 

I am also really passionate about raising money through Team Swanger Strong for Head for the Cure—an organization whose mission it is to raise funds for brain cancer research. We lost our dad to brain cancer almost three years ago and since that time we participate in a 5K each year. Over the last three years, we have successfully raised over $20,000 to fund brain cancer research and to support families and patients battling brain cancer. I am thankful to run a small creative business that has helped me in this fundraising mission.

Learn more about Katie and ALittleAfterNine series here, and check out her Instagram @ALittleAfterNine. Also, stay tuned for more #CLEative Groove profiles! You can also follow @CLEativeGroove on Instagram here, or send suggestions for people to profile here.

Jen Jones Donatelli
Jen Jones Donatelli

About the Author: Jen Jones Donatelli

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast.

When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes through her small business Creative Groove, as well as Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.