NewsBack to index
3rd July 2020
Meet the Artists – Katie Ponder
Katie Ponders work occupies the sweet spot somewhere between Constructivism and Art Nouveau. Her bold, graphic compositions contain flourishes of natural forms and highly detailed features; emphasising the very real expressions behind the abstracted figures she creates.
Often using an intuitive approach, Katie finds the image and composition as she’s making it, assembling textures and shapes until it begins to develop an otherworldly atmosphere. Muted colour palettes provide a sepia-tinged lens into a world of ethereal dancers and angular architecture, that are often delicately framed by floral elements.
Taking cues from tarot decks and costume designs from the ballet’s Katie frequently attends, her works often evoke classical dramatic elements, which has seen her excel in competitions like the Folio Society Book Illustration Competition and the Glyndebourne Tour Art Competition and attract work from clients like Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Canterbury Cathedral.
We spoke to Katie about her upcoming move to Berlin, Yoga and her familiar Poppy…
Where do you live?
London is my home. At the moment I’m based in Stockwell and work from home but in two weeks I’m moving to Berlin for three months! During lockdown I decided as soon as it was possible I would take some time to live abroad. I’m super excited to immerse myself in a new place.
Can you describe your creative process?
Sometimes I start with sketching out an idea. Other times I get straight onto photoshop and start playing around with compositions and layouts until something ‘clicks’. I use textures that I have made and collected which I then layer in Photoshop. I see it as a form of digital collage.
What does a typical working day look like?
Every day starts with breakfast and yoga. Yoga is an essential part of my daily routine. I’m a qualified yoga instructor and before I started working full time as an illustrator I was teaching a lot of yoga. I still teach a couple of classes a week early in the morning and if I’m not teaching I practice yoga for myself. I find it an essential part of my creative process – giving my brain a moment to be quiet so that ideas have space to develop. Also physically, doing yoga means I can be curled up at my desk for the rest of the day making art without getting stiff. In the evenings I like to make sure I do something that takes me out of my head a little bit. I try to see exhibitions or go to the ballet or spend time with my friends.
Do you listen to music or the radio whilst you work? If so, what’s on your playlist?
I love listening to audiobooks when I’m working –anything from Harry Potter to psychology books.
How long have you been with the Artworks for?
Three happy years!
What drew you to Artworks?
I interned at the Artworks before I was signed to be an artist. Interning meant I got to see behind the scenes and saw the care the agents put into the work and the artists. There is a lovely sense of community amongst the agents and artists. I hugely admire the other artists represented by the Artworks.
What books or programmes did you love as a child? Have they influenced your work in any way?
I loved fairy tales as a child and all things Disney! I was also very drawn to creepy things and loved Halloween, Tim Burton films and ghost stories. I still love working on projects where there is an element of magic and other worldliness.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be instead?
A yoga teacher/ fortune teller/ quilt maker.
What was the most important lesson you learned at Art School, if you went!
To keep experimenting with new ideas and media and be playful with your work.
What inspires you the most to create?
Going to the ballet and seeing beautiful sets and costumes. Listening to music that makes my mind drift off into a daydream allowing ideas to form. Taking time to rest.
Name three artists that you admire.
Audrey Niffenenegger, Dan Hillier, Aubrey Beardsley.
What kind of commissions do you enjoy the most?
Books! I have loved designing book covers and working on longer projects doing the illustrations throughout a book. I’ve always been a bit obsessed with books.
What would your dream commission be?
I’d love to work on something where I got to illustrate costumes from ballet and opera. After I see shows I always sketch out my favourite costumes from memory. I also love tarot cards and would love to one day design a deck.
Do you have any pets? If so, what and what are they called?
Poppy is more than a pet! She is my soulmate and familiar. She’s a little black cat who I have had since I was 12 years old. She hates everyone except from me – which is extremely validating.
What 5 things could you not live without?
Poppy, herbal tea, dark chocolate, good pillows and my friends.
What is your very favourite meal?
I’m vegan and love trying new vegan things. During lockdown I discovered a really nice recipe for moussaka, which is currently my favorite thing.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Other than seeing friends, going to galleries and ballet, and doing yoga – I also really like making patchwork quilts. It’s a slow methodical process which I find very calming.
What is your current dream travel destination?
My Mum is from New Zealand and my sister moved there a couple of years ago. I used to go all the time growing up but haven’t been for a long time now. I have a real hankering for an adventure back to my motherland.
To see more of Katie’s work, click here.