05 April 2013

Illustrator Q&A with Kat Chadwick

Here at Omnibus lately we've had the pleasure of working with designer and illustrator Kat Chadwick on a number of different projects. In 2011 there was Shirl and the Wollomby Show, written by Janeen Brian and illustrated by Kat. Knitting sheep – what's not to love? Then out this year is Dog on Log, written by Tania Ingram. This is a very simple text but there is no shortage of action in Kat's illustrations. And just lately a cover for a book we're really looking forward to seeing on shelves in August this year, Holiday of a Lifetime: Disaster Diary by Megan de Kantzow. Kat's cover illustration and design for this book perfectly captures the main character Anna in all her sweet neurotic glory.

So after all this work we thought it was time to ask Kat a few questions that weren't along the lines of 'We need a cover in a week -- can you do it?'

 O: What is it that you like about drawing animals?
K: Well, I like illustrating most things but what I really enjoy about drawing the story-book animals is the process of humanising. Working out just how far to push them so they are still animals but do things physically that an animal just wouldn’t do. I like the gentle humour and slight absurdity this can create. And the way it can craft individual personalities the viewer can hopefully relate and respond to.
 
O: Do you procrastinate? Are you an early-morning or late-at-night worker?
K: Oh yes, I certainly can procrastinate! Especially on a special project like an illustrated book which I tend to look at as a labour of love. Sometimes the desire to make it the best it can be can be a bit overwhelming and counter-productive. But with most of my regular illustration projects — I work with a wide range of clients: editorial, educational, advertising/design campaigns, product design — I usually work quite efficiently. Time lines for these projects tend to be short and there is no time for self-doubt and procrastination. To be honest, I seem to thrive on a tight deadline. Generally I work fairly regular hours, I usually get to the studio about 9.30-10 and head home at about 6 o’clock. However, if I’m super busy, I’ll work whatever hours are necessary to meet the deadline ... 5 am starts, working late into the evening, the occasional all-nighter. Luckily I don’t have much of a commute as my studio is across the road from my house.


Kat at work
O: Where do you get your inspiration for your illustrations?
K: From a whole range of sources. Fellow artists and illustrators, especially the amazing talent on my agent Jacky Winter’s roster. Old and new picture books. I love the work of Richard Scarry and have a good collection of vintage Little Golden Books. I like following various illustrators’ blogs and Instagram updates. And of course just observing daily life is very inspiring ... a hipster waiter wearing braces and a bow tie at my favourite cafe, a dachshund dressed as a hotdog at a Dog Fancy Dress Show event held at our local store, lovely colour combinations in an interiors magazine, the shadows cast as I walk down the street, interesting typography on a packet, the patterned bark on a neighbourhood tree, a child walking down the street holding a party bag and a balloon, many of these details make it into my work.

O: What does your family think of your drawing?
K: My mum and dad have always been very supportive ... the walls of their house are full of my work dating back almost 30 years (I find the dark gothic period a bit embarrassing). My nieces Coco and Babette enjoy what I do too. When really young, they constantly wanted me to draw for them. Alas there were only so many princesses and mermaids I was willing to do so we made a little rule they had to ask for something new each time. Now they are bigger (6 and 8) they are both confident drawers who enjoy making their own pictures. Coco says she wants to grow up to be an artist who also looks after animals in Africa. Sounds good to me :)

O: Shirl and the Wollomby Show is about knitting and crafting – do you like to do either?
K: I really like sewing and do the odd embroidery project, usually a funny picture for my husband on our wedding anniversary. Sometimes I make personalised sock animals for friends too. I’m not much of a knitter, however a few years ago I did go through a phase where I knitted four very big Fair Isle jumpers. I didn’t use a pattern, I just made them up. I used lots of different coloured wool, knitted rows of abstract patterns and bobbles, plus things like flowers and ducks. I knitted one for my mum, one for my sister, one for a friend and one for myself. Since then all I’ve knitted is a lumpy black and white striped football scarf. Its a bit scratchy so I haven’t really worn it much!

O: What are you reading at the moment?
K: I have an ever growing pile of books beside my bed that I dip in and out of. I enjoy a variety of things, especially thrillers and stories about human relationships. These are currently at the top of the pile: Walter Mosely: Little Scarlet, Anna Funder: All that I am, Peter Carey: True History of the Kelly Gang, and Marjorie Bligh’s Home: hints on managing everything!

O: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
K: I always wanted to do something creative, something to do with drawing or making. There was also a little phase of wanting to be a Cruise Director like Julie McCoy on the 70s TV show, The Love Boat. I thought she and the Pacific Princess were so glamorous. I still get a tiny bit excited when I hear the show’s theme song :)

O: What do you like to do when you’re not illustrating and designing?
K: Cooking for friends and family. Gardening and working out ways to keep our naughty cat out of the vegie patch. Browsing the occasional hard rubbish collection for treasures. Reading. Going to art galleries. Biking. Friday morning walks with my husband to the Vic Market to do the weekly food shop. Sneaking away from the studio for $7 Monday daytime screenings at the Nova cinema (the joys of being self-employed).


O: Do you have any pets? Tell us about them.
K: We have a cat called Puddin’. She is black and white, very fluffy with a magnificent plume of a tail. When we got Puddin’, she was a one-year-old homeless mother, recovering from cat flu. She was very shy when she came home with us but quickly became a much loved part of our little family. Her favourite things are 1. obsessively watching water disappear down our bathroom sink plug hole, 2. skidding down our steep wooden stairs and 3. trying to go to the toilet in my vegie patch (even though she’s got plenty of other options)!

O: When was the last time you went on a bus?
K: Returning from a little holiday at Barwon Heads last summer. It was about 5.30 in the evening when the bus picked us up from the side of the road and the sun was still hot. We were licking ice creams and I felt sandy and salty after a day on the beach. Good times. 


Thanks, Kat!  

2 comments:

  1. Liza Birch11 May, 2013

    Such an inspirational illustrator and designer! I had the good fortune to meet Kat just the other day. She is a great person too. I really admire her distinct style. And what a life! She is very fortunate indeed.

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  2. Loved what you did with the Illustrations for our book, Shirl and the Wollomby Show! Thanks, Kat. x

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