Graphic designer and illustrator Katie Wilson takes inspiration from the microcosmos of life in her backyard, capturing it in beautiful, delicate watercolours and whimsical textile products. Katie is a founding member of the Felt community and can be found at many of Christchurch’s maker markets. She loves overcast days, avocados, walking her over-enthusiastic dog, dreaming of an abundant vegetable garden and collecting twigs.
What do you make?
I mostly sell prints and other paper goods based on my own illustrations. I also dabble in screen printing, creating accessories like pouches, scarves and brooches. My work generally focuses on plants and animals – the things I find in my backyard.
How did you get into your craft? Do you have formal training or qualifications?
I’ve been drawing and making things for as long as I remember, and have been selling my creations on and off since 2007. I have a degree in graphic design and illustration.
What techniques do you use? Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
Right now I am really loving painting with watercolours. My mum makes a lot of the paint that I use – she collects rocks from around New Zealand and grinds them down to create her unique pigments (she has a shop on Felt too). I don’t use the paint in the typical watercolour method – I apply it quite thickly and often add other media to create texture and depth.
I also love screen printing and wish I could do more of it – I love creating multiples of my designs and seeing them all hanging up to dry.
How do you get past a creative block? Describe your creative process:
I’ve learned not to fight creative blocks, I think they are part of the process. If I’m feeling uninspired I go for a walk, do some gardening or just get out of the house and see people. I generally feel much better after that and the work flows again.
Ideas usually come when I’m doing something else, my desk is littered with scraps of paper with notes and doodles on them. I try to carry a sketchbook with me always and jot down ideas as they happen, or I tend to forget them! When starting a new project I often look through my sketchbooks and an idea for a print will jump out. From there it is usually a quick process to decide on the composition and colours. Sometimes I paint individual elements, scan them and then finalise the final layout on the computer.
Is there a philosophy behind your work? What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the outdoors and nature. I guess I hope my work encourages the viewer to look a little closer at the other species on this fragile planet.
Describe your workspace:
I tend to paint on a table in my living room as it has great light and is close to the music. I’m probably the messiest person ever – it is very cluttered and piled high with bits of paper, plants, sketchbooks, half finished paintings and art supplies. I also have a room that houses my sewing machine and fabric piles.
Your favourite feedback from a customer:
Oh my gosh – I get such great feedback from my customers, I can’t just pick one! I think the best feedback is when a customer comes back and orders from you again though.
What are you currently listening to?
My usual playlist of melancholic and maudlin tunes.
Recommend an album: Dresses by Loch Lomond.
What was the last handmade item you bought?
I recently got a brooch from madebyfran here on Felt. It’s made from matai and I love it!
What would you most like to learn, if time and money were no object?
I’d love to learn to screen print fabric by the meter, I’d also like to learn how to draft patterns, oh and I’d love to do ceramics one day too.
You’ll find more of Katie’s beautiful prints and textile products in her Felt shop, In My Backyard.
And it could be your lucky day, because Katie has very kindly offered one lucky Felt blog reader the chance to win one of her beautiful A4 prints. Just leave a comment below, telling us which In My Backyard print is your favourite and why, and you’ll be in the draw. Anyone can enter and the lucky winner will be drawn on Friday 28 February.