M-C “Tell me a bit about you and your background: where are you from, where did you study? Are you still Kate from the Block?”
I grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, drew constantly, and always wanted to be an artist of some kind. My grannies were always asking for new paintings to stick up on the fridge.
After high school I I took a portfolio course and that helped me to get into the Glasgow School of Art, where I specialised in Illustration.
I’m definitely still Kate from the Block, my heart will always belong to the city and people of Glasgow. I’m trying to get as many Scottish words into my English friends’ vocabulary as I can
M-C “What do you feel was the best lesson you learnt while studying? Is there anything that still sticks with you or do you feel you’ve thrown out a lot of advice of tutors as your practice has developed?”
One of my tutors always spoke about the power of taking breaks and that’s something I do believe works for me, because when you work constantly you can experience burn out which is definitely not healthy or conducive to illustration. But I really wish I could remember more of what they said
M-C “Have you always wanted to be an illustrator?”
Pretty much. But after four years of art school I got a bit fed up and decided I’d had enough of illustrating, so I entertained some other careers like graphic designer and weirdly, teaching English abroad, and becoming a pastry chef. But when I actually moved to London to work in graphic design I missed drawing, and after I started doing a bit in my spare time, my love for illustration grew again.
M-C “When you started working ‘professionally’ how did you develop your distinctive visual language which we see in your work today?”
I’m not sure my visual language is something I’ve ever consciously thought about... it’s the same way I have drawn since I was a little girl - but definitely improved since then. But over time, because I have developed a passion for vintage fashion and design, a retro influence has definitely crept in to my work.
“What is a day in the life of Kate Costigan like? Tell me about your daily routine...”
I get up, make a coffee and start work around 8am. If I don’t have anything too urgent to work on I like to pick one of the ideas I have written down in my notebook to draw. I do try to get out of the house at some point because I can get a bit bogged down working non stop, so even if I walk round the park for half and hour and come back I feel refreshed. If I’m feeling up to it I force myself to do a workout or yoga video - hard work but I always feel better afterwards.
The temptation is there to keep working till 10/11pm at night but I do like to give myself a night off binge watching something on Netflix
“Do you have any rituals or daily routines to help get you into the right mindset?”
Coffee helps! And I find listening to music can spark ideas, sometimes I hear lyrics that paint a really visual picture in my head that I have to quickly scribble something down to draw later.
One of my favourite podcasts is called You Must Remember This, which tells of forgotten stories and scandals in old Hollywood - it’s brilliant and if I’m drawing any femme fatales it’s compulsory listening
“How do you spend your downtime?”
To unwind I read, or I’ll find a scandi-noir series to watch on Netflix, or walk along the canal where I live. At the weekend I’ll usually meet up with some friends to try a new cocktail bar or go out for dinner.
Have you experienced any major significant moments in your career to date?
When I worked for HemingwayDesign I was involved in the branding and identity design for the amusement park Dreamland in Margate. At times it was very difficult, mentally and emotionally exhausting - the team even moved to Margate for the two weeks before the park re- opened. For our work on Dreamland we went on to win an award and be nominated for another, and it’s something I’m immensely proud to have worked on.
“Talk us through your studio / work set up – what are the most important items in your creative toolkit?”
My dining room table is my work set up - thankfully my housemates don’t mind, but I should probably hoover the pencil shavings up more
often. The tools I definitely couldn’t live without are: pencil, black ink, and Photoshop! My notebook is pretty crucial too - it’s where I write all my ideas, and if I’m having a creative block I just need to revisit the notebook and I have a long list of new drawings I could pick from.
“Where do you live and how does the city / location / your surroundings inspire your practice?”
I live in London and I’m definitely inspired by all the super stylish and confident girls and women I see. They provide me with a lot of outfit ideas for my characters (and me).
“If you could trade professions for a day, what would you do instead?”
Some dream careers would be: puppy handler, a window dresser in Liberty’s, or a travel writer who gets to visit lots of exotic locations
“Do you have any secret passions?”
I do love a good murder mystery on tv
“What social media platforms do you use, and do you feel social media is very important to your practice?”
I share my work on Instagram mostly, it’s such a great (and free) way to get instant feedback on my artwork and definitely helps as an ego boost for me when my inner critic is telling me I’m rubbish