Not to play faves, but this has got to be one of the most inspiring interviews we’ve done in a while! Artist and calligrapher (and qualified architect!) Kate Hursthouse shares how it’s never too late to follow your passion… How about we let Kate introduce herself?
Did you always want to be an artist? What has been the career and life journey to this point?
I think I was always meant to be an artist, I just had a bit of a convoluted route getting here. In high school I spent all my spare time in the art department drawing and painting but somehow a careers councillor convinced me that I should pursue architecture school over art college. I am still not quite sure how that happened, probably the usual “an arts degree won’t make you any money” spiel.
I spent the best part of 10 years studying to be, and then practicing as, an architect in both New Zealand and Australia. I worked on a whole range of projects, the most fun being new schools where I got to play with a lot of colour and graphics. As much as I liked being an architect I didn’t love it, I think a couple of years went by where I barely picked up a pencil. After taking a couple of short courses in art and illustration and picking up a few small freelance projects I realised just how much I missed it and how much I loved it. It wasn’t too long after that I made the decision to take an early retirement from architecture and go to design school in Melbourne.
After finishing design school in Melbourne I made the move back to New Zealand. I have been based in Auckland for the last 2 years and have been freelancing full-time for the last 6 months. Now I use pen, pencils, ink, brushes and create everyday, I feel I have come full circle to my days in the art department in high school. It only took 10 years!
Kate at work in her home studio; supplies at her fingertips
What are you working on right now?
I have quite a variety of client work on at the moment from branding and custom illustrations to the design of a vodka bottle. The range of jobs keeps things interesting.
I am also working on some new personal projects and artworks. I think the projects that I am experimenting with now are some of the most interesting I have done. I am focussing on calligraphic and lettering based works and am looking at working on different textures and with different materials. I have been experimenting with gestural calligraphy since doing a workshop in Italy last year and am prepping some pieces for an upcoming exhibition with the New Zealand calligraphers.
Kate’s exquisite calligraphy, work for an upcoming exhibition
Fave music to create by?
I am a big Spotify fan, I like to create playlists by the seasons that reflect what I am enjoying at the time. I am still hanging onto summer so favourites artists from that playlist that I am still listening too include Carmada, Klingande, Kygo, Alex Adair, Jamie XX and Kid Koala.
What are some of the fave things you have on your own walls at home?
A limited edition screenprinted poster from a gig I went to at Red Rocks in Colorado, USA. It was Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros with the Alabama Shakes, it has the date of the gig as part of the design so when I look at it I always remember that experience.
An ‘Alice in Wonderland’ themed artwork by kiwi artist Veronica Green who I spent some time with in Venice last year where she how lives and works fulltime as an artist.
A print by Melbourne illustrator Renee Carmody which has all these key icons of Melbourne and reminds me of the 4 years I spent living there.
What has been your most exciting/inspiring project to date?
I have been lucky to work with artist Michel Tuffery over the last 6 months on the design of a bottle for a new Samoan coconut vodka called Koko Aulo.
Michel produced the artwork and I have undertaken the branding and bottle design. We recently went to Samoa with our client and I was able to experience first hand where the produce comes from and discover all the amazing hand painted lettering there is in Samoa, on their buildings, signs and public buses.
Tell us about a few creatives/designer you are personally inspired by?
Everyone on my Instagram feed!! There are so many talented people out there, it is both inspiring and overwhelming at times.
Inspiration comes at me in all shapes and forms. I get a huge amount of inspiration from friends and colleagues in the industry who are doing their own thing, pushing boundaries, carving their own path and producing really great work.
In the calligraphy world I cannot get enough of Luca Barcellona, Niels Shoe Muelman and Pokras Lampas who just produce the most ridiculously beautiful work that is a mix of traditional and contemporary techniques.
More of Kate’s work close up; tools of the trade
What would be a dream collab/project you’d love to do?
A group exhibition with other artists I admire and respect. I would love to get a group together, who operate in different mediums and have different strengths, and assign a common theme to the exhibition. I think it would yield some really unexpected and exciting results.
What words of advice would you give to someone wanting to make art their career?
Some of the best advice I was given was to do work everyday and put it out in front of people. No one will ever discover you sitting in your studio.
A quote I like to live by is: “Do what you love, and don’t stop until you get what you love. Work as hard as you can, imagine immensities, don’t compromise, and don’t waste time. Start now. Not 20 years from now, not two weeks from now. Now.” – Debbie Millman