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Interview: Katherine Appleby

You may have noticed some of Katherine Appleby's beautiful Australiana watercolour washi tapes in the WashiGang shop! Well today we're going to introduce you to the talented artist behind those washi tapes on our blog! We hope you enjoy getting to know a bit more about Kathy in this interview, as much as we did! 

Tell us a little about who you are and what you do? I'm a watercolour illustrator with a love of intricate detail, the natural world, and a little whimsy, too. I live just outside of Canberra with my black and white cat/studio manager, Indy. 

What does your daily routine look like? Sadly, I still have a full-time day job (in graphic design and marketing), so during the week, I wake early at 6am to get a little admin done before heading to work. When I get home, often I'm too tired to do a whole lot, but I try and get in an hour or two of more admin - or painting! Sometimes, painting has to take a second place to everything else that's on the to-do list.

Do you have any tips for staying organised as a creative person? I do keep a to-do list and a weekly planner, to try and make sure that I tick off everything that's on my list. When I am working on larger projects (such as children's book illustration or watercolour commissions for example), I like to create a plan by breaking the project into smaller parts (for example, research, thumbnails, roughs and final illustrations), then break those parts into smaller steps. I then put these steps into a weekly planner so that I know exactly what I need to have done each week in order to meet my deadline.

Another tip is to keep an organised working space. I am lucky enough to have a second bedroom that I use as my studio, and this really helps. 

What is something you’ve done recently with your work that you’re proud of? In 2020, I decided to start painting the largest watercolour I have yet attempted. Okay, so it wasn't huge... (560x760mm) - but it was huge to me! I decided it was going to be a portrait of a Red-Tailed Black Cockatoo - and I wanted to paint it with colour, not just blacks. I love Black Cockatoos! When I lived in Port Macquarie, there were a little family of 3 that would occasionally visit the birdbath. They were so shy! But I just loved seeing them. I wanted to paint this bird like it was on stage in the spotlight, dressed beautifully as they always are. Part way through, I was contacted by a couple who wanted to purchase the artwork - so it became a commission. This was hard, as I then wanted to make sure it was perfect, and I had to try and make sure I was making time to work on it (instead of working on it in my spare time) - but it worked out! And I LOVE the result. In many ways, it was sad to see it go (they loved it too which is awesome!) - so perhaps I will have to start again? In many ways, this project was a little outside my comfort zone, but I was definitely proud of the result. 

Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay motivated? I think motivation is one of those things that you have to create - if you want to run an arts business that is. You can't wait to feel inspired, you just have to put your head down and work. That said, I think it's also important to make sure you are exposing yourself to places or things that inspire you. For me, nature is my inspiration, so I try and make time each weekend to get out into nature, even if it's just a short walk (with my camera!) around our local wetlands or around my local river. Getting outside, going for a walk, getting a little break and admiring our natural world is enough to help me feel both inspired and motivated to work when I get back. I'm so lucky to live in the Canberra region as we are surrounded by the most beautiful bushland and we have some wonderful nature reserves too - I don't have to travel far to feel like I am no longer in the suburbs or city. 

What exciting plans and goals do you have lined up for 2021? Oh my! I think the problem I have realised (as we're already part way through February) is that I have toooooo many exciting plans. Haha! One big thing is that I would like to create my first ever diary/planner for 2022. I have an awesome idea in my head, so now it's time to put it down onto paper and plan the entire thing - and then get to work! I'm going to approach some publishers with my idea once I have some sample pages complete - but if there is no one wanting to publish it, I'm still going to look into producing it myself. It's going to be beautiful and have a balance between planning - and slow living! I can't wait to get started.

Other than that, I have a few other new products I plan to produce (including new washi tape of course! (Watch out for some cheeky cockatoos soon). And I hope to wholesale my products to some new places around Australia also. (Currently you can find them at the Australian National Botanical Garden Bookshop, Arthouse Industries in Port Macquarie, POP Canberra, That's Ferntastic, and at WashiGang). 

What was the design process like for your beautiful washi tapes, that we stock at WashiGang? I was nervous when I first decided I wanted to produce washi tape. That's a tiny canvas to design on - and I was nervous that they wouldn't look good. I started researching buying them direct from overseas, but that also brought a new round of anxieties. Then I discovered WashiGang - and they do all that for you! They already have a relationship with the manufacturer, so you're guaranteed that the product you'll receive is of high quality. They do all the liaising for you - you just simply have to supply your designs and you're done. I LOVE it! Each of the designs I create feature my watercolour illustrations - they're printed so tiny compared to how they were painted, but I think they look awesome! (Thank you WashiGang!) 

Where can we follow you: You can find me at @katherineapplebyillustration and www.katherine-appleby.com 


You can find our collection of Katherine Appleby's washi tapes here: Katherine Appleby Washi Tape. And if you'd like to try and design your own washi tape, like Katherine, take a look at our Custom Washi Tape service! 

Yay!! Thank you so much for reading our interview with Katherine Appleby!! It's so exciting to us, to have Australian based artists and designers stocked in our shop. 


Who would you like to see us interview, next? Let us know in the comments!!! 

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