Kate & The Ink...& Paper Tiger Posted on 26 Oct 09:57

Kate Dowling (the Kate of Kate & The Ink) is an Edinburgh illustrator and maker who lives and works almost on our doorstep. So when she made her recent hand delivery of new designs, I had time to ask her a few questions about her work... 

When did you first realise that you had a talent for creating art?

I remember loving drawing as a wee girl, I always had a pencil in my hand and I loved art at school. I remember painting Shere Khan, the tiger from The Jungle Book once and being really proud of it! I’m not sure whether I knew I had a talent or whether I just followed a passion but I think being creative came naturally to me.

Where did you get the inspiration for your style of illustration? How did it develop?

I studied product design and when I was studying I was drawn to retro design influences like the Memphis movement, the graphic design and typefaces from Bauhaus, and pattern design from designers like Lucienne Day and Marimekko. I started designing cards for friends and family, had an Etsy shop and then expanded to wholesaling my products in 2017. Since then, I have developed my style by seeing what my customers want and need and I always aim to incorporate a retro influence in the designs.

How do you record your ideas and sketches?

I always have a sketchbook on the go! And I also use the notes app on my phone because I often have ideas when I’m out and about or listening to music.

How do you set about working on a collection?

I usually have a seed of an idea and sketch ideas around this. For example, my new shouting animal kids birthday card range started by trying to capture the excitement of children at birthday parties. My son Fergus was really into animals at the time! I wanted them to look eye catching and most importantly fun. I played around with the die cut mouths of the animals to create an extra fun element.

What is your development process?

I always start by sketching ideas in my sketchbook and gathering inspiration on a pinterest board. Usually there are a few iterations of a design in a sketchbook before I start designing in Adobe Illustrator.

How long does it take you to create a range from start to finish?

It varies as some ranges come together quickly while others take a lot longer! Usually it takes a few months and this is because there are always tweaks to make. I get physical samples printed and then there are usually some changes to make after I’ve seen them in the flesh.

Has the coronavirus affected your working methods or inspired you to do things differently?  

It has made me work more efficiently! We have a 4 year old and when we were in full lock down I obviously had to fit work around childcare so this meant early mornings and late nights. If there has been a silver lining in this difficult time, I have found myself being more focused and inspired to create positivity through my work. As a creative person, I feel I have an opportunity to help spread some cheer!

Which is your favourite part of your job?

Definitely designing and coming up with ideas!

What inspires you to start work in the morning?

I love packing orders and getting my products out in the world so I always start the day by packing orders. I also get a lot of inspiration from following other small businesses on Instagram and Pinterest. I love seeing other people following their dreams!

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Stop worrying about everything - it will all be okay! And don’t listen to people when they give you the ‘struggling artist’ career chat - it’s as legitimate career as any other and far more fulfilling to pursue your passion than to be commuting to an office job you don’t enjoy.

What do you like to do when you're not designing?

Going to the beach, getting outside in nature, swimming (in the sea when I can!), exploring our amazing city, visiting galleries, listening to music and cooking. I also love interior design and always have a wee project on the go!

Where are your favourite places in Edinburgh?

The Cameo cinema, walks at The Hermitage, visiting The Modern Art Gallery (I can’t wait to do this again!) and of course shopping at Paper Tiger!

What are you working on next?

I’m working on collections to launch in Spring 2021 - I have some exciting cheerful designs in the pipeline!

You can buy Kate's cards in our two Edinburgh shops and online. I am looking forward to seeing what Kate has in store for 2021!