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Interview with artist and textile designer Katie Smith

Katie Smith is an artist and textile designer based in Madrid, Spain. Katie's formal education began at school on the Isle of Bute, Scotland where she began to take interest in painting and illustration. And, though an easily distracted student herself, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in Textile Design with Honours from the prestigious Heriot-Watt University where she gained experience in woven and knitted textiles before specialising in printed textiles. She is inspired by a variety of sources, chiefly the skill of drawing and painting in a detailed and exhaustive manner. Discovering all possibilities is an important aspect of her method; working closely with subject matter ensuring all qualities are captured and then translated onto paper or fabric. Katie's work is based around detail, colour and subject matter tends to be linked to nature or emotion. Katie works with variety of media although always leans towards the fluid and romantic textures created by watercolour painting. 

What inspires you to your beautiful artwork most of the time?

My inspiration comes from a variety of sources. I do tend to lean towards nature including flowers and birds as I enjoy capturing the movement, colour and light but sometimes inspiration is from an unusual place. I try to consider new ideas and subject matter as I enjoy testing myself and my boundaries; this is something I think is important in art. I find birds and flowers fabric-like when I study them and paint them onto paper. For both subject matter I think they are also my link to fabric, or textiles, which has taken a back step as I focus on painting but remains an important skill for me.

How does a day which is full of inspirations look like?

My day starts with my journal – what ideas have I jotted down, what am I working on and what ideas does my brain currently harbour! I think it is good to get everything down on paper no matter how big or small the current format may be, it could turn into something special. I also like to prepared and organised having all my materials to hand.

From here my day is organised but a varied day. I tend to work on more than one piece at a time as I like to continue working whilst, for example, waiting for a paint area to dry. The only time I would only focus on one piece is if I am working on something which is very intricate in which case I like to apply all my focus to this.

Which is the most detailed and exhaustive painting/drawing you have done?

It actually wouldn´t be a painting or drawing but a textile piece I produced called “Tulips” based on the poem by Sylvia Plath. They are a series of textile works which are intricate and detailed because of the varied methods which were used to create them. There are around five A3/A2 pieces in the series each detailed and unique in their own way capturing various elements or topics from the poem. The fabrics which were used were all simple canvas, bandages, swabbing and papers to create a clinical feel which each presented their own difficulty when adding detail, colour or texture. I used beading, hand sewn embroidery, decoupage and other techniques to capture elements to translate onto fabric. There are also intricacies created from subtle pieces of the lines of the poem sliced throughout on delicate transparent paper.

It became an unusual and emotive piece. It was the most detailed and exhaustive as it was different from other pieces; very clinical as opposed to others which tended to be much more fluid and of a painterly style.

What is the method you use? Which are your favourite media to achieve the "fluid and romantic textures"?

I'm comfortable with various mediums but I always come back to my favourite which is undoubtedly watercolour. I like the fluidity and unpredictable movement you can achieve but also how you can capture finer detail, texture and include precise aspects of your subject. I also like how with dyes you can capture the watercolour effect on natural fabrics, so my work can be translated onto material.

Where do you like to go to gain inspirations?

I am inspired by where I live or my surroundings. I currently live in Madrid, Spain which has many amazing museums and galleries to peruse which means I regularly take on board new influences. I particularly enjoy visiting Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum which houses a vast collection of art in particular Impressionist and Expressionist work which holds my interest. Also as I am influenced by nature I enjoy Parque de El Retiro where I take time to gather my thoughts and new ideas.

Why do you procrastinate with regards to learning Spanish (just curious)?

Haha! My creative brain challenges me when I am learning Spanish!! Because I find that learning a language isn't visual I struggle to remember the words! I associate Spanish words with pictures or English words which helps me to learn, although I'm not sure it is the most practical method of learning a language!!!

Luckily I have advanced in this department and know enough Spanish to get me by and live in such a wonderful country…..but art and new ideas continues to be a distraction to learning more!!
Interview with artist and textile designer Katie Smith Reviewed by JaamZIN on 6:59:00 PM Rating: 5
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