The design pioneer

A master of the airbrush

and founder of Baltimore's first woman-owned graphic-arts studio, Katherine A. Boyce died on Sept. 14 at age 83. Over the years, she drew and painted for the Social Security Administration, the Preakness Stakes, the Maryland Lottery Administration, the Baltimore Orioles, and the National Bohemian Brewery. She was a gracious host, throwing birthday parties and other celebrations at her home; a teacher part-time; and always a mentor to young artists.


"She was much more than my first and favorite boss," Penny Dorman wrote. "Her advice while I was 18 changed my entire life and I will never forget her."

Ann Parker, now of Scottsdale, Ariz., won't either. "I was a young copywriter at one of Baltimore's major advertising agencies when I first encountered Kathy," she writes in an email to

City Paper

. "Interested in exploring freelance opportunities, Kathy was very encouraging and helpful with good advice. I eventually turned to freelancing full-time and now have a lively business."

A former competitor whose company often printed Boyce's work remembers a brilliant friend and self-taught artist who shared everything she knew. "When I moved [from Baltimore in 2009], she gave me a bell," says Marcia Watcheski. "She said, 'If you ever need me, just ring the bell.'"

Boyce battled oral cancer for several years at the end of her life. Her case was featured in a GBMC Oncology brochure in 2008 touting their Lymphedema Center.

As proprietor of Kathy Boyce Graphics, Watcheski says, "all the big ad agencies subbed to Kathy-because she was so good. And if she told someone she would have a job ready at 7


, she would stay up all night if needed to get that job done. You know how women are."

Watcheski says she still sees Social Security posters that Boyce designed (and which she printed). She misses her friend, she says: "We had a million plans to travel and be bad in our old age."

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