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We spoke to Ventnor based artist Katy Rose about life in lockdown as part of our extended interviews with Island creatives. 

Interview by Megan Stisted

 

Hi Katy, how are you? How are you finding life under lockdown?

Hi Megan, good thank you – I hope all of you at Exchange HQ are keeping well too! I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. I am a very social person and I find my creativity thrives best when I can bounce ideas off my friends and peers. I struggle at times to work from home, I prefer to ‘go to work’. Before lockdown I had just set up shop with The Events Co in their office in Ventnor. I think as a freelancer I still need that separation to have a space to work, and a space to relax – as it becomes very difficult to switch off working at home. However, the thing that is really saving me right now is my daily walk. I love being outside in the sunshine and I use that time for mindfulness. So that has definitely been a lifesaver! As someone who suffers with anxiety this time allows me to think clearly and get ready to focus again at my desk. 

 

What are your top tips for people looking to get into drawing/illustration?

As simplistic as this might sound, I would say my top tip is just to ‘start’. Pick up a pen, pencil or paint brush and without giving it too much thought just begin making your mark. That is the most difficult part as a blank piece of paper is terrifying! Drawing what is around you will help you develop shapes and style, and try not to be too hard on yourself about your first sketches – you are doing it for you, no one else. This can even start from you doodling when on the phone or watching tv, I often practice textures when doodling and it’s then taken through to my illustrations. If there are artists you like, look at how they create their work , what materials and technique they use – my love of pen and ink was all started by studying one of my favourite childhood illustrators Quentin Blake at university . He worked in this way and as soon as I began experimenting , I knew it was something I wanted to keep doing. I would also recommend finding a drawing club nearby – I had just started one at the Ventnor Exchange with Mhairi and it was so much fun! We are hoping to begin again in September so welcome any of you who would like to give drawing a try, meet like minded creatives and pick up a pen with a coffee or glass of wine!

“I’m not going to lie, it’s been tough. I am a very social person and I find my creativity thrives best when I can bounce ideas off my friends and peers.”

“…my love of pen and ink was all started by studying one of my favourite childhood illustrators Quentin Blake at university”

What projects are you currently working on?

At the moment I am working on developing my online Etsy shop Katy Rose Design – at a time like this where we are purely relying on online shops I wanted to create a platform to sell my designs and advertise my commissioned pieces. I update my shop regularly and have been so pleased with the results I’ve had so far! I am also working on projects with fellow Ventnorians The Events Co, I am their In-house Creative so I have the awesome job of creating designs for weddings, festivals and events too. One thing I am currently developing is my painted leather jackets – I have developed three illustration templates which can be adapted with your own text and I will draw these directly on to your favourite leather or faux jacket – giving it new life!

At the moment, where would you say you get most of your artistic inspiration from? 

I love to draw animals and botanicals, and on my walks I take lots of photos as a visual library to draw from later. I’m inspired by scientific illustrations of animals and botanicals too, these have greatly inspired my work and I am planning to create a series inspired by them. I also love looking at vintage designs, especially Victorian publications as they also included a lot of linocut animal and floral pieces. I always use pinterest at the start of every new project and collect images to develop my initial sketches, it really helps me create the design.

During this time, have you found yourself taking on any new challenges?

I have been setting myself new personal projects to keep myself busy , as my business has massively been affected by Covid 19. This would usually be the time when the majority of my commissions begin. I work alot with local hospitality businesses creating artwork and signage, travelling to different festivals doing creative production during the summer, and designing hand drawn stationery and signage for weddings too. Most of these will now be deferred to next year instead so I needed to create an alternative way for people to see what I do. 

Do you have a challenge/activity you could suggest for our readers?

Well our next Drawing Club theme was ‘botanicals’ so we would have been looking at some artists famous for creating botanicals such as Georgia O’Keefe, Pierre-Joseph Redoute or Ernst Haeckel. So I would suggest having a look at these or a totally different artist that you like (who primarily draws botanicals) and create a drawing inspired by them. You could do this either in the same medium, style or colour – or whatever the mood takes you! Go and explore on your next walk and take some photos to draw from or study your plants at home and make those your subject. If you’ve been to one of our classes, you know we love a timed drawing (mainly for the groans at the 5 second one!) so give that a go too – create timed studies in 5 minute, 1 minute, 30 second, 10 seconds and 5 seconds to really loosen up your style and make you focus on the shapes you are drawing! I always love to see what you make so tag me @katyrosedesign if you want to share them with me!

“If you’ve been to one of our classes, you know we love a timed drawing (mainly for the groans at the 5 second one!)”

If there is one artist that more people should know about, who is it for you?

It’s really hard to pick just one! I am constantly discovering new and amazing work on instagram , most recently Katrina Haffner and Phillip Harris and Icelandic artist Kristjana S Williams. Sometimes it’s a drawing style or method they are using or how they create their beautiful compositions that inspire me.

If you would like someone to talk to just for support about creative projects and financial difficulty we are on hand to chat please email hello@ventnorexchange.co.uk or call 01983 716767  If we are not in leave a message and we will get back to you.

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