Last week we introduced a new series 'Where Are You Now?' where we touch base with previous Fashion156 interns and contributors. For our first post we spoke to former Fashion156 intern Julia Kasper as she launched her debut collection.
Today we speak to Scottish illustrator Katy Smail. An ex-intern at Fashion156, Katy now lives in New York where she pursues, as she puts it, "a love for drawing tragic girls with broken hearts and pretty dresses". Having previously exhibited her work in London, Glasgow, Melbourne, San Fransisco and New York, Katy recently published her first illustrated novel (S)mythology, authored by Jeremy Tarr.
We remember you as an intern in our London offices, today you are an established illustrator based in New York. Could you update us on what has happened in between?
I spent six months in London interning, fashion writing, drawing and generally doing lots of work for free! I moved back up to Edinburgh for a year to save money and build my portfolio. It was hard to remove myself from the "scene" but looking back that time was indispensable to my career. I did lots of exhibitions and special projects, and the lack of payment kind of freed me up creatively. I started making friendships with other artists, designers and writers both local and international and once I had saved enough money I booked a flight to New York! Once I was here, it was lot more working for free until I slowly started making connections started and getting my work into the world.
You studied in Edinburgh and worked in London before moving to New York. How did this last move come about? Has New York always been where you have seen yourself working?
I fell in love with New York during a semester spent studying in the US for my degree and it was pretty much a done deal from then on. I could never get New York out of my mind, and once London wasn't a great fit for me, I knew I had to find a way to get there. It inspires me like no other place and so, for me, there was no other choice.
How easy was it breaking into the New York scene? Was there anyone who particularly supported you during those first steps?
Like anything, it took hard work, initiative and determination but I found New York to be a very open city. Life is lived in the streets, the bars and cafes and, more importantly, people talk to each other. So many of the "connections" I have made, and the people who have helped me the most have sprung from friendships rather than cold calling.
How have new media and new technologies in general been affecting your field? Many people claim technology has made a large proportion of illustrators redundant - how (if at all) has your own work been affected?
I am an old-fashioned girl and, to be honest, technology scares me a little. I never draw on the computer, I hate photoshop and really only use it as a finishing and communication tool. Having said that, online magazines have been very important in the formation of my career, allowing me to experiment and work in an immediate and professional arena.
I think that illustration has always been a difficult field to work in, but that if you broaden your mind a little and experiment with multi-disciplinarian work it could be a really exciting time. Also, I think that the saturation of new technology is driving people to seek out a more traditional, handmade aesthetic. People will always need words and pictures!
Images courtesy of Katy Smail.
Posted by Natascha Chtena