Katherine Kilburn’s illustrative designs bring to life our natural environment with thought-provoking poignancy. Her works blend images from nature with repetition of patterns and lines, vibrant colours and fluid typography.
Her patterns and shapes within and around her designs are inspired by the complexity of life. These intricate details a reflection of her passion to convey strong ideas, nuanced by her desires for conservation as well as a portrayal of the world around her.
She credits her love of nature in part to her childhood home, and in part to her schooling. “We moved to Tallebudgera Valley in 1996, to a beautiful, lush green valley full of hills and windy roads, and endless greenery and wildlife. I think growing up there, and finding this hidden serenity behind the busy Gold Coast played a great part in how I express myself through my work and the subject matter that I base my ideas from. My obsession with drawing patterns and animals and people spans the entirety of my life. I went to primary school in the valley where there was a huge emphasis on creativity and exploring nature. Often we would walk through the trail in the forest across from our school, gathering moss from trees and leaves from the ground to do art projects with. And most of all I remember drawing – the feeling of complete freedom of expression and seeing your daydreams come to life on the paper.”
Having always immersed herself in some kind of art, Katherine knew she would pursue a creative career. With the support of her family, in particular her Grandmother, her Nan and her Mother she has tried lots of different creative endeavours – from china painting and watercolour, calligraphy and woodwork. “My family is full of brilliant creative people who have taught me along the way by sharing the joy of their craft. I think the best practice of art and design for me, is living and breathing it every day and seeing your progress along the way of how you have grown as an artist.”
Since studying at Designworks College of Design in 2011, Katherine is now working and building her design portfolio and admits she has created more in the past few months, than she has over the previous eight years. Like many creative people, she experienced a time where she wasn’t very productive. She felt stagnant and spent a few years away from her drawing. It was curiosity and concern for the endangered rhino that drew her back into the practice.
“Knowing that a lot of these beautiful creatures will cease to exist at some point (possibly in our lifetime) deeply saddens me… I guess illustrating them is my strange way of preserving them. And of how I can help as one individual, to at the very least, bring awareness. It is just the first of a series that will hopefully manifest into a body of work, ranging with all animals that need more attention and some help. This project will be 100% for the cause and I am so excited to see it unfold over the next year or so.”
“I find the meaning or symbolic consensus behind nature and creatures upon this earth really interesting. How they come about, and why we regard them in a certain way… I love to watch life, as an observer, I find it really intriguing and take it all in, eventually it comes out in my work. It manifests into an intricate design of expressions of shape and line work.”
Music is also an integral part of Katherine’s creative process and she says: “[music] plays a massive role through my artwork. One line can influence or spark an idea for an entire body of work. They can be really moving and powerful and ignite really strong ideas.” And one of her more recent ventures was to design album art, printing collateral for gigs as well as media kits for local band Neem.
Taking a hands on and fluid approach to her illustrations, Katherine says she prefers the visceral mediums of pen or graphite to creating with the computer. “I love starting with a blank sheet, most often without a plan, just going with the flow of the energy of the moment, and just letting it happen.” Her most recent collaboration will see some of her work featured on homewares and other various products for a business launching later this year.
This is exciting for Katherine, as she begins to gain traction with her designs. Her struggles with confidence in her work is something most creatives experience at some point in their careers and those that meet their goals are those, like Katherine who see that being an artist means having grit.
“My philosophy is to work hard; to keep going because the more practice really does make for better results. You can only ever improve if you keep pushing past the ‘difficult’ points of your journey with art. Never let the world get you down… As I begin a project I find clarity and solace as I fill the blank white pages with inky textures and patterns. For me it’s the actual act itself of drawing or doing art that is meaningful, I mean it’s a way for me to escape this place we have no control over and go somewhere that I have complete control of, in which case the end result really doesn’t matter – what matters is that I keep on keeping on.”
With this attitude, Katherine is surely destined for great things.
“Art and the act of creating is always like that, it can lie dormant for years, until you ignite a strong idea or to express a message that needs to be conveyed. I’m not sure where its headed at the moment, I’m 25 and I know that as I move through the different stages of my life, as a friend, a child, an adult, a Mother, that I will have different desires to create different bodies of work. My work is a portrayal of my outside life and will be forever changing.”
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