Bright eye-popping colours, that rough hand-drawn style, a little wink of darkness… there’s no mistaking an Evie Kemp design. Evie started her illustration business back in 2009 with a line of animal fabrics, and now – along with her art prints – sells clothing, gift-cards and textiles, all adorned with animals from friendly to fierce.
You won an award last year for illustrating a children’s book – tell us about it!
A couple of years ago I illustrated ‘A Dog Like That!’ authored by Janene Cooper and published by Duck Creek Press. ‘A Dog Like That!’ made the Storylines notable book list 2011, was a finalist picture book in the 2011 NZ Post Children’s Book Awards and a finalist for the LIANZA Russell Clark Award for illustration. I majored in illustration as part of my Graphic Design degree and pitched for the book in my final year, had it accepted and started work on it as soon as I graduated. The illustrations for the book are entirely done through collage, which isn’t really something I apply to my other work (or haven’t so far). The sequel to the book ‘That Dog at the Beach!’ ( <—- shameless plug huzzah!) has just been released and I got to illustrate a dog peeing on a sandcastle which was fun. I find my children’s work to be quite at odds with my more ‘grown up’ work, which if often has a darker side to it. Sometimes I go in to schools to run ‘That Dog’ inspired collage workshops and that is heaps of fun. Kids are awesome and really funny.
Author and Illustrator together (Evie on right) at the Children’s Book Awards. Image via Booksellers NZ.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished a range of cushions that I’m just about to make public. I’ve been keen for a while now to apply my work to pattern and textiles again so I’m really happy to be heading in that direction. They’re inspired by tribal and ethnic influences with a twist, and a really modern (and bright) colour palette. My new range of cards has also been really well received so I’m really trying to get in the zone to come up with some Christmas designs. I’ve also got a couple of other ‘prototype’ style projects to expand my range and type of products further. Nothing is definite there yet though, so sorry for vagueness!
Evie’s new (and very limited edition) line of cushions.
How would a ‘day in the life’ of a maker like yourself look?
I spend a lot of time online keeping up with orders, contacting stockists, blogging, tweeting, researching and sourcing.Realistically at least 50% of my time currently is admin though a lot of that is talking with people which is fun. I almost always have some kind of ‘physical’ project, a new idea or a new way of making something that I mess about with through out the day. I spend a lot of time looking in to and working on my ‘next thing’. When I’m drawing, I have the TV on all the time, I’m currently watching the West Wing all the way through again. I have some really awesome creative friends to hang out with and take business downtime with. Sometimes it’s important to have long Friday lunches to celebrate being self-employed. I paint my nails in weird ways and do yoga a normal way and walk my dogs.
Evie’s home studio – as colour-packed and unique as her art prints.
Can you tell us a little about your process?
I’m always inspired by my little dogs Bonnie & Jasper, cat Eddie and how crazy they are. Often, I’ll just start drawing an animal and it will start to gain a personality that I’ll hone in on, sometimes in a second drawing. I’m a complete convert to using Palomino Blackwing pencils, they’re so great for my heavy line. I’ll usually do a collection of drawings before I take the time to scan them in and add colour digitally. It’s usually when I’m adding colour that I’ll decide if a print is going to look great or not. I have some pieces I love as line drawings but I just can’t get the colours right on them so they never make the cut. Colour is a major deal for me. Once I’ve decided on colours it’s just a case of running some test prints to make sure they’re coming out as I’d like. I’d love to do some screen prints some time soon and play with colour on paper that way.
A work in progress…
What’s the favourite piece of work you’ve done and why?
I think (hope) that I’m my own biggest critic and am hard to please. Ultimately my favourite work ever would have to be my early fabric designs that I had made in to lampshades. I think they’re the most unique of all my work and the most ‘me’ and I really am looking forward to working more with fabric design in coming months. I like all my prints in one way or another, Cantankerous the Persian is quite important to me as the beginning of my current style, I also really like the barking dog, Savage. Big attitudes are the best.
Rabbit lampshade, one of Evie’s earliest designs.
What has been the coolest experience of your career so far?
To be honest, I can’t really pin point a specific experience but the past couple of months have been really amazing. I’ve been having a great reception to my work and have made some incredible connections. Everything is moving quickly and it’s really inspiring and exciting/scary.
What can we look forward to next from Evie Kemp?
New prints, new cards and whole new products. More cats, more teeth.
Just a few of the awesome Evie Kemp art prints available at endemicworld.