Monday, 14 August 2017

Meet Kirsty Collett – Challenge Director

Kirsty Collett

Tell us what sort of a child you were. Did art play a big part in your growing up?

I was described as a ‘spirited’ child, and I think that was putting it nicely! I loved to laugh (loudly and often at inappropriate times), see and try things for myself and run wild. I was also a deep thinker, a dreamer and an observer. I don’t think much has changed!

Growing up, my parents placed a lot of importance on imaginative play and creative expression. Riding horses and playing in hay barns, cowsheds, tree huts and troughs was definitely balanced with time spent reading, writing, listening to music, singing, dressing up and dancing (I desperately wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer!). I was given oodles of creative opportunities.

My sisters and I feasted on picture books — the best introduction to art you can have! — and, as soon as we were old enough to hold a pencil, my school teacher mother encouraged us to create our own story books.

I also had some other very creative role models: my father is a farmer-turned-sculptor; my Opa was an author and illustrator; and my Oma was a potter and painter.

So, yes, I guess art did play a big part in my growing up!

Week 18 2017: Rain clouds

Why do you make art now?

Trust me, when it’s not going well — when I’m battling imposter syndrome and fear of inadequacy — I ask myself this question over and over again!

But, luckily, I have some good reasons for making art to fall back on:

I make art because I need homes for my ideas. They’re very particular about where they want to live, so I have had to explore lots of different art forms in order to satisfy them: writing, songwriting, storytelling, painting, costume design, and some ideas have even demanded their own shows and events!

I make art because I’m intrigued by the creative process — it feels like magic. Sometimes picking up a pencil or a guitar or sitting down and just starting something — anything — is the only planned and purposeful thing I do. Oh, and I feel purposeful at the end when I’m fine-tuning, adding details or editing. But the in-between part, the heart of the creative process, feels more instinctive, more intuitive, more ... magic!

I make art because it connects me with myself and other people.

I make art because it’s fun, therapeutic and satisfying … most of the time!

Week 8 2017: Pastel

Have you formally trained as an artist or illustrator? Describe your art background/journey.

I have no formal training as an artist or illustrator, but I have exercised my creativity my whole life, and I really believe that our creative passions inform each other. So here’s a wee snapshot of my artistic ‘training’ to date:

I started writing songs at an early age and have busked, gigged, performed and recorded at countless locations over the years, both as part of a band and as a solo artist.

I write stories and am constantly honing this craft as I pursue my dream of becoming a published author/illustrator.

When time allows, I develop interactive storytelling shows and perform them at preschools, schools, libraries and events. I ADORE working (read: playing!) with children.

I was founder and organiser of The Party, a themed arts event that ran for three years and blurred the boundaries between artist and audience. I worked with some fabulous performing artists and DJs, and designed and created some fun costumes for this.

I have an illustrated paper goods business called Prickle and POP.

And let’s not forget the ongoing 52-Week Illustration Challenge ‘training’!

Children's Storyteller

Do you have a favourite medium or subject matter?

I’m still exploring and learning about different mediums and techniques — I think I’ve only just scratched the surface! — but, so far, I really enjoy experimenting with collage, monoprinting, and pencil and watercolour.

I adore capturing quirky little stories. A lot of my ideas take flight from the nooks and crannies of everyday life — the delicate borderlands between imagination and reality — where extra meets ordinary.

I’m not interested in being cool or on-trend; I’m interested in being curious, imaginative and fresh. I don’t see a differentiation between art for children and art for adults. Art is art; it just speaks to you in different ways.

Week 19 2017: Music

Describe your artistic process, from ‘no idea’ to ‘finished artwork’. 


I usually let a theme or a brief marinate in my mind for a day or two (or 10) to give my subconscious time to mull it over. (Crikey, that sounds a bit deep! But my father made us decipher our dreams, plant by the moon and hug trees as children, so it’s to be expected, I guess.)

After the marination period, I sit down and start playing around. Sometimes ideas form easily and flow naturally onto my sketch pad; other times, I want to tear my attempts into a trillion tiny pieces and TRASH THEM. But I’ve learnt that I am usually very unimpressed by my work until I have added colour, so I’m trying to be more patient.

Once my sketch resembles something I can work with, I transfer it onto watercolour paper using a light box, and then the real fun begins!

I try not to try too hard when I’m painting. I seem to like the results better when I just go for it — adding colour, sprinkling salt, splashing water, cutting and pasting, stamping and layering — without overthinking. I have a tremendous amount to learn, but I think will always be careful to balance what I know with what I feel.

When I’m satisfied with the paint job, I emphasise outlines and details with a pencil before photographing it (in excellent natural daylight!) and working on it in Photoshop. My digital skills are fairly limited, but I do I like to remove my backgrounds and format the images ready for print.

Week 10 2017: Weekend


How do you fit your creative work in with a busy family life? Do you have a routine?

I am at my best, creatively speaking — good grief, not in any other way! — first thing in the morning. So in an ideal world, I would pour a bucket of coffee at 6.00 a.m. and settle into a few hours of creative bliss before my children wake up. Unfortunately, this rarely happens because my boys are early birds, too! Well, not unfortunately, because there’s no hardship in delaying creative contentment for the smell and feel of my warm, sleepy boys! And one day, all too soon for my liking, I am sure I will have my mornings back.

So, mostly, I settle into creative work after school drop-off and juggle my projects and other commitments until school pick-up. I switch off at night, unless I have self-imposed deadlines looming, preferring to enjoy the creative efforts of others: good wine, good books, good magazines (FLOW is my favourite), and good Netflix shows.

Busy Bees


Where is your favourite place to create and illustrate? 

I love to potter away in my ‘home studio’ (spare room, kitchen table, lounge floor). You can read more about it here.

Pink Flower Houses

What impact has the Challenge had on your creative journey?

The Challenge has had a HUGE impact on my arty journey; it kick-started it! Without it, my desire to hone my (limited) drawing and painting skills may have remained just that: a desire, a pipe dream, a ‘someday’ project. It doesn’t bear thinking about!

Luckily, the thrill of posting my first Challenge artwork on the 7th of January 2016 was enough for me to decide it was going to become a ‘right now’ project! I was overwhelmed by the welcome, positive feedback and supportive comments I received. I was SOLD!
Thanks to the wonderful weekly prompts, I was also motivated. I loved having a purpose for my art and a safe environment in which to share it. And I loved having my Facebook feed filled with glorious illustrations from all over the world; it was so inspiring.

But it wasn't just the art that I enjoyed and connected with; it was the community, the people — YOU! I treasure the online friendships I have formed and the giggles, trials and celebrations we have shared, and I am delighted to carry on the vision of Tania McCartney and Nicky Johnston, with the help of the amazing Admin Team.

I will be introducing (or reintroducing) you to the wonderful people behind the scenes over the coming weeks, so watch this space!

My first Challenge post

Do you have illustrators or artists who give you inspiration?

I’m inspired daily by the creativity of the 52-Week Illustration Challenge community!

I collect picture books — for me, as much as for my children! — and they are my greatest art resource and inspiration source. I am drawn to lots of different styles for lots of different reasons, so my list of ‘Favourite Illustrators’ is endless! Here are just a few that come to mind: Jon Klassen, Lynley Dodd, Christian Robinson, Emily Hughes, Babette Cole, Craig Smith, Britta Teckentrup, David Barrow, Rebecca Cobb, Eric Carle, Freya Blackwood ...

My step-mother-in-law and award-winning artist, Galina Kim, is also a huge source of inspiration. Her work is phenomenal. You can learn a little more about her here.

Week 12 2016: Non Dominant Hand

What are you currently working on and what will we see next from you?

Prickle and POP will soon have dedicated bricks-and-mortar retail space, as part of a new co-op in the Christchurch Arts Centre called Shopology, so I’m busy organising print runs, display units and marketing material for that right now.

I am also working on a commercial commission for Brisbane-based organic skincare company Miss Magoo's, creating imagery for their new website and baby products.

A publisher has recently asked to see more of my work, so I am writing and editing at the moment, too.

And when I’m on top of all that, I am going to work my way through every one of Nina Rycroft’s Skillshare classes, and explore the digital medium more. I want to learn, learn, learn!

Miss Fantail


Do you have a dream creative project you'd love to be able to do?

It is my long-time dream to collaborate on a children’s picture book, or develop one as an author/illustrator. I would love to combine a few of my creative passions, including songwriting and storytelling, to help with the promotion of a book. I adore bringing stories to life!

I know digital diaries are the organiser of choice for many, but they don’t work for me. I still prefer pen and paper, so I would love to design an illustrated dairy. Matching pens would be cool, too!

And I have a BIG dream of working with a number of schools to create an illustrated story that is 'read' and enjoyed as an exhibition.

Week 20 2017: Saturday


Tell us something(s) that we don’t know about you.

My nickname is Kib. I talk to myself a lot. I’m an introverted extrovert. I love my dressing gown. I'm fascinated by big waves. I have filmed a pilot episode for a children’s webseries. My handwriting is ghastly. I have been a LifeLine counsellor. I’m a middle child. I can’t choose between mountains or sea. I’m tall. I turn everything into a song. I have jumped out of a plane. My favourite colour is greeny blue. I’m scared of spiders. I think kindness is underrated (and always will be because it can’t be rated highly enough!). And I ADORE the 52-Week Illustration Challenge (but I think you already knew that!).

Let's connect!

See you soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment