I’ve recently come to know & love Scottish Illustrator (based in Brooklyn, NY) Katy Small. Her work is a vast inspiration for my self. She illustrates the most lovely, dainty pieces. Her photo collaborations are phenomenal and one of my favorite things she produces, along with her new Bespoke Stationery that is absolutely novel.
I got a chance to know Katy on a deeper level through a little Q & A and was excited to dig into where all this beauty and creativity stems from. Here is a little bit about this lovely soul.
Describe your childhood & where you grew up, how did it attribute to where you are now in your creative profession? “I lived in Edinburgh, Scotland until I was ten; it is a small and very beautiful city. I think that the winding, cobblestone streets and rising gothic castle in the midst of the city crept in and cemented a lifelong tendency towards the old and the melancholy. It is a special city because it is very green, with lovely museums surrounded by the sea, woodland and beautiful gardens. We moved to a little village in the Scottish Borders when I was ten and lived in a ramshackle house surrounded by a wild, sprawling garden. There was magical woodland, rivers, wildflowers and purple hills all around. Of course, it was Scotland, so it was rainy and grey 90% of the time which meant a lot of indoor time reading and playing make believe, too…I grew up with three little brothers, so a lot of our time was spent playing make believe together; we were always making dens, putting on plays and generally living in a world of our imaginations. We would spend our weekends taking trips to museums and botanical gardens; places that still inspire my work today.”
Is there anyone significant in your life that has shaped you? “My mum is such a creative person, and was always encouraging me to tell stories in my homework assignments, to think in a magical way. My dad would take me to the ballet and music recitals from a young age. They both encouraged me to draw, act in plays and learn the piano.... all things that shaped my creativity. Growing up in a small village also installed in me a very strong sense of ambition; to travel, to do great things and to 'escape'.
I was never "good at art" at school, and was going to study acting or English. My first love was the school art star and he really opened me up to the possibility of art, to the insatiable need to create. He took me to foreign movies, interesting exhibitions and we would draw together. He stirred something in me that is still growing. Also, when I was 16 I finally got an art teacher Mrs. McCann, who told me I was good at drawing. I had never heard that before, and that was the beginning of it all, really. A little love and support is like magic!”
What inspired you to be an illustrator? “So many things! The decision to study illustration, specifically, really came from my desire to work with words and stories. It seemed like a good way to combine my love of literature with my desire to draw.”
What inspires your illustrations? “So many things! I love the flicker of excitement right at the beginning; the hazy outlines of inspiration that you can’t even squint to see but feel so real and exhilarating. I love clutching to the coattails of that feeling, starting to research & draw in a world that doesn’t quite exist yet. It can come from a book, an exhibition, a movie or just the light upon a bended bloom. I am forever inspired by the representation of women; their portraits, their stories and the historic role that florals play in the telling.”
How do you explain your artistic style? “Bittersweet, dreamy, poetic. Stories told in layers of winding botanicals, paper petals and regimented patterns. Studies of women whose wild, steely eyes flicker under the groomed beauty of strict gardens. Untamed vines of paper hair cascade upon ladylike lace. Fragile blooms clutch neat wildflowers and gaze from iron frames unto the creeping wilderness...”
Are there any other things that you like to do creatively, besides illustrating? “I enjoy clothes and fashion, and assist my talented friend Ariel Dearie with floral design. I collaborate with a lot of lovely people on different projects so end up doing many different creative things from set design and styling to flower arranging and window dressing. The variety is what I love about what I do.”
What was the main inspiration/thoughts behind your new Bespoke Stationery? “I love when someone comes to me with their own story, their own favorite flowers and colors and I get to be part of designing something which is truly made for them. It is lovely to feel like I can bring some joy, and help to make an event feel really special. I have always loved pretty paper, letters and cards and I think that receiving beautiful mementos in the mail is one of life's loveliest pleasures. Wedding invites are the most popular request, but I also do personalized holiday cards, thank you notes, custom portraits for gifts, event stationery....anything on paper really!”
What do you hope your creations do for your clients? "It really depends. If it is a wedding invite I hope to honor a special moment and time and create a treasured memento, if it is an illustration job I hope to bring a sense of grace and joy into unexpected settings. In my personal work, I hope to stir a little emotion, to suggest a story and, hopefully, to bring a little beauty into someone's day."
Katy's work is beyond magnificent. Give her a visit and check out her full portfolio and the rest of her new Bespoke Stationery!
Truly // Sarah