Katie Keith is our Supplier Of The Week, 11 – 17 April 2016.
The Wolverhampton-based emerging designer creates hand illustrated and screen printed cushions, with bespoke options available. We spoke to the hugely approachable Katie to find out more about her work, the process, and her new studio.
Where did your passion for making start?
Every school holiday and weekend I would find myself at my Grandma’s, often with my cousins, learning techniques about painting and finding stuff around us to use and manipulate to create something epic. I guess I’ve just been brought up in an extremely creative environment. My Grandma was definitely my biggest influence and my inspiration for pursuing my creativity to where I am now. We are all now working in creative industries.
What is your favourite part of the screen-printing process?
My favourite part would have to be pulling the ink through the screens, it makes this crazy squeak sound that makes some people shiver but I really like it! I think it’s because I know there’s been a good layer of ink pushed through and there’s going to be a nice crisp finish when I lift up the silk screen.
What may someone not know about the process?
The one most important thing, that people probably don’t realise, is the time I spend designing and hand drawing my positives. These are images that will be imposed onto the silk screens, using the UV light.
When I am designing I spend a lot of time thinking about splitting up an image into several colours and thus several positives will be needed. It’s very important to figure this out because if you have an image with lots of layers, you can spend forever printing a pattern and the end result just isn’t sustainable. I also hand draw these positives because it keeps my raw drawing style throughout the whole making process and keeps it truly traditional as nothing ever sees a computer.
I once did a print that had 38 layers in it. It was an ice-cream print and I had split it up into this crazy illustration with lots of colours and different toppings.
You’ve recently moved to a new studio – tell us more!
I started in a small studio space within a purpose built building of artist studios. It’s pretty exciting to expand into a bigger studio, still within the same building. I really enjoy working in a co working space as I think it’s really important to surround yourself with like-minded people.
Expanding into a bigger print studio will really help with the efficiency of my business. It will also give me a better advantage to showcase my work to visiting clients.
How do you approach sustainability in the studio?
My work is very linear and detailed and I’m pretty fussy over the finish, I want to make sure I get it right from the beginning. I worry about our ‘throw away’ attitudes and, even though I’m adding a product into the market, I believe I’m adding a quality product. I would much rather design a high standard product that last a long time rather than a current trend.
I try to produce as little waste in the whole process and use left over material for testing pieces on my next project. I’m even really conscious about the shipping materials I use.
What advice would you give to a designer starting out?
For any designer starting out I would say be true to yourself and your ideas. Don’t conform to what you think people want, or any specific ‘trends’, and always learn! Learn from your mistakes in business and from design, and keep pushing forwards. There’s also lots of help out there regarding understanding business, like The Prince’s Trust, so check them out!
How do you believe online marketplaces can benefit emerging designers?
As a designer-maker its really hard to juggle all the aspects of business and marketing as well as hand producing my fabrics. Online marketplaces really help bridge the gap so I can focus on getting a top quality product made.
Finally, why does design matter to you?
Answering this is a pretty tricky one. Design has always been in my life, I can’t really pin-point down to a reason why it matters, it’s just does. Design can express emotions as much as it can create emotions, design can bring joy to those that create and to those that don’t, I could go on forever here…