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Kate Forrester has been with The Artworks for 12 years, bringing her beautiful synthesis of unique hand lettering and satisfyingly detailed illustration. Kate’s versatile approach has seen her gain recognition all over the world working with clients from locations like London, Madrid and the Middle East; her typography is tailor designed to suit specific briefs, working as effectively for book jacket designs (for clients like Penguin Random House and Little Brown) as it does for large scale murals and beyond.
Kate’s continuous experimentation with the forms her work can take while still remaining clearly and distinctively her own is astonishing. Her illustrations retain that beautiful rhythmic sense of her lettering, with an emphasis on detail; her drawings curl and weave in and around one another evoking beautiful scenes and the emotions they might contain. Kate’s recently redesigned website showcases her work with the clarity found in her illustrations, and we seriously suggest heading over there!
We caught up with Kate to discuss living by the sea, her process and pushing the application of her work…
Where do you live?
Where is your studio located?
Down by the sea in Hove (actually).
Can you describe your creative process?
I always start a brief by sketching out the main composition of an illustration, just in pencil on rough paper, and I start really super small.
I like to get down a few thumbnail versions of my initial concepts before I do any research or find any reference material, while the ideas are really fresh. Then I sketch, scan, print, adjust, sketch, scan and redraw many many times. For this reason, I don’t keep any fancy sketchbooks or original drawings, just mounds of scrappy paper. It’s a process! Once I have something I’m happy with, I use Photoshop to build the final composition and apply the colour and texture.
What does a typical working day look like?
I usually cycle to work from my house, which takes only about 10 minutes – I grab a coffee from Small Batch downstairs and climb the 4 flights of stairs up to the studio. I like to be the first to arrive to grab a moment of quiet before it all kicks off. I start with emails and make a list of what I need to get done.
The morning is my most creative time so I work on commissions or projects for a few hours before heading out for some fresh air and a quick walk by the sea. Then back for more of the same until I pick my kids up at 5.30ish. I never work in the evening. My eyes dont work properly after 7pm!
Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?
We have a pretty eclectic mix in our studio – not all of it totally to my taste. But if I am drawing I usually plug in something chilled on Spotify, or often I listen to an audio book from Audible. ‘Reading’ while I work feels like the ultimate luxury.
How long have you been with the Artworks for?
I have been with them for about 12 years now.
What drew you to Artworks?
The Artworks are such a supportive group. They strike a great balance because they maintain good relationships with artists and clients but are happy to step back and let us work together creatively without constant intervention.
I was looking for a partnership with an agency who knew their game but did not try to take too much control of every project so with them, nothing gets lost in translation.
What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?
I was a big reader as a child. I loved all the Faraway Tree stories and the Ladybird Garden Gang characters. I used to illustrate my own books when I was about 7 and sometimes send them in to publishers. They were always sent swiftly back with a kind and encouraging note!
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?
I’d make underwater documentaries. This is a dream, right?!
What was the most important lesson your learned at Art School, if you went!
To understand the importance of experimentation in order to discover happy accidents in your work.
What inspires you the most to create?
Time out away from the screen. Travels to new and bustling places.
Name three artists that you admire.
Olaf Hajek, Carson Ellis, Julie Verhoeven
What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?
I love a different canvas. So anything that shakes things up and pushes the application of my work – designing products, painting on big walls, hand lettering on faces….
What would your dream commission be?
I’ve always wanted to design some bespoke fabric or wallpaper for a special space.
Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?
In a few weeks we are picking up our first pet – a tiny moggy kitten who is only 1 week old right now. We only met her on Sunday!
What 5 things could you not live without?
My 4 boys are everything…so them. And coffee. That’s important too.
What is your very favorite meal?
I love a good Thai green curry with loads of lime.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to read, run by the sea and hang out with my friends. Family life often takes over but I try to get the balance when possible.
What is your current dream travel destination?
Lisbon and Cape Town are currently top of my list.
To see more of Kate’s work head on over to her new website and see her full range of projects!