Q: How did you get started as an artist?
A: I have always loved to draw. When I was very young I had problems with my feet and had to have a couple of operations when I was two and six years old. I had to have casts on my legs and I spent a lot of my convalescence with crayons or pencils in hand, filling my time with drawing. I created little worlds through my pictures, often creating whole families and stories for them to populate. My love of art continued throughout my teens and into my twenties but I married young and started a family so thoughts of going to college and studying art to become an illustrator seemed like an impossible dream. I carried on drawing for pleasure but I always longed to pursue my artistic career. At the age of thirty-five my children were growing up and I had more time on my hands so I decided to go to college to study art part-time. After finishing a two year foundation course I was encouraged to push on and go forward to university to study illustration. I attended The Cambridge School of Art at Anglia Ruskin University, a wonderful school where the emphasis is on drawing rather than graphic illustration. It wasn't always easy juggling family, Uni work and travelling but I managed somehow and came out the other side of it a very happy woman with an honours degree in illustration!
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
A: Since leaving Uni I have spent my time drawing and developing my portfolio, I usually spend about two to three days a week drawing for Illustration Friday,which I find a wonderful way to keep myself challenged. I also occasionally do commissioned portrait work. A typical drawing day starts with me getting my youngest son ready for school then after a couple of hours of drinking coffee, puttering about in the house and garden, checking emails and floating around in the blogosphere I get down to work. I have a studio but often prefer to sketch ideas in the garden before settling down to work on the final illustration. Once I'm in 'the zone' I can draw for hours with virtually no breaks often through the evening and into the night.
Q: How has your art/style changed since you first started?
A: I think the thing that has changed most for me is that the image in my mind of what I am about to draw has more clarity now than it used to have. I have a very definite idea in my mind before I start to sketch and with this has come a new definition in my work which in turn has given me more confidence in the things I choose to draw. I now like to experiment more with colour and light. I love exploring the way light can create drama in an image. I have also been enjoying working with just graphite pencil and rediscovering it's properties and subtleties.
Q: What do you hope to accomplish in the future (artistically or otherwise)?
A: I want to illustrate books for children. Last year I started sending work out to various children's book publishers and agents and gradually started to get positive responses. I have managed to aquire the representation of an agent and a few publishers have put my work on file in case anything comes up that suits my style but I still have not had any children's book work. But I will push on and keep sending out my mailers and hopefully one day soon my work will be seen by the right person at the right time and my illustrative journey will truly start!
Q: Who/what inspires you creatively?
A: I am inspired by many things; life itself , my family, nature, art whether it be illustration, fine art or sculpture. I enjoy it all. I am inspired by many illustrators. I love the work of John Tenniel, Arthur Rackham, Edward Ardizzone to the more contemporary work of Shaun Tan, Oliver Jeffers, Angela Barrett, Raymond Briggs, Quentin Blake, Edward Gorey and Maurice Sendak.... I could go on and on.
Q: What are three pieces of advice you would give to someone just starting out.
A: Draw, draw and draw!! :) Draw as much as you can, have a little book with you and sketch when you're out, just quick sketches nothing too intricate, people, children, dogs, buildings, trees by doing this it helps you to build a kind of visual library in your mind that you can dip into as you draw. I sometimes even sketch as I watch tv! The slope of someone's shoulder or the outline of someone's face... it all feeds into later work.
Play, experiment with things, find what works for you. I have often spent days playing with new materials, dropping things into watercolour to see what happens, covering whole sheets of paper with scribbles of colour pencil building them up layer upon layer. Sometimes you have to just play without trying to get an end result.
Persevere, push on with it no matter how disheartened you may feel. Whether it is a drawing you are struggling with or approaching publishers you must persevere. If a drawing goes wrong I either continue until I get it right or start afresh and the same goes with publishers. If you get rejection, keep working and sending out your stuff until you don't! If you want something enough you have to keep going until you get it! :)
Aren't you as amazed as I am! Thank you so much Kathy for agreeing to be interviewed. I'm sure you're dying to check out her other work. Visit her on her website: www.kathyhareillustration.com or check out her blog: www.moongazinghare.blogspot.com or if you hang around Illustration Friday circles for any length of time, you'll recognize her exquisite illustrations!