Print-maker and illustrator Dionne Kitching graduated from Middlesex’s Illustration BA in 2012. Amongst working on various commissions , Dionne has been awarded a print fellowship at Northampton University, created patterns for Urban Outfitters, frequently sells her work at and craft fairs and has recently relocated to Berlin.
– Tell us a bit about what you’ve been up to since finishing the course?
Since graduating I’ve been keeping myself busy with various projects, I’ve just completed a print fellowship at Northampton University, I’ve been selling prints and illustrations online and also at various craft and illustration fairs, had a few exhibitions and some really exciting commissions, including my first publishing job and various pattern design jobs, gig posters, map designs etc, and I’ve just moved to Berlin and plan to stay and work here for a while.
– How do you go about produce your images? Are there any parts of the process you particularly enjoy?
I’ve recently started to embrace the sketchbook finally! my ideas tend to start there, sometimes just as doodles sometimes already a fully fledged idea. Then I draw all artwork by hand usually on a larger scale, before scanning and colouring digitally. Because I often screen print my work, all my drawings are drawn with layers, so I will plan which colours will be where and draw each colour on one layer, if that makes sense. It’s hard to explain but it’s quite straightforward in practice. My favourite part is drawing the final artwork, the ideas part can be quite difficult and at times frustrating.
– What’s a typical day of working freelancing like for you?
I’ve learned to be a bit more disciplined these days, I get up at a reasonable time and plan my day, responding to emails and checking social media first, then onto whatever the day involves, hopefully drawing, but there is a lot of other boring stuff involved too. In the afternoons I like to go for a run or do something fun, and then get back to work in the evening. But it doesn’t always work out like that! It’s also hard to keep a routine when you have to fit being an illustrator in with other jobs! The key is planning things and not leaving it until the last minute.
– As well as taking on commissions you also sell your work on various websites like Etsy and Society 6 and regularly take part in craft fairs. Can you tell us a little bit about your products and the benefits of running a shop?
Running a shop is great, it’s a good way of reaching out and meeting people, sharing ideas and seeing how people react to your work, especially if you go to markets and fairs rather than just online, you can also approach local retailers and galleries, they’re often more than happy to stock independent artists work! There are also some sites like SOCIETY6 where you simply upload your work and they do all the hard work for you, this is great for having a kind of passive income, but it does take some of the fun away. Some of my products are entirely hand printed/painted by me, some are professionally printed, I think it’s important to know where you strengths and weaknesses are and go with that to get the best possible product. Unfortunately, my online shop is taking a short break at the moment, as I’ve just moved to Berlin, but I can’t wait to share a bunch of new products soon!
– Are there any projects that have felt like milestones for your career as an illustrator?
I guess URBAN OUTFITTERS was pretty exciting because it’s a big international name and I’ve always wanted to do some work for them, it’s nice to know you’re doing something right when jobs like that come along. At the same time though, each new job feels like it’s own little milestone in a way, and I really feel like I’m only just starting out!
– How did you find the transition from student to practicing illustrator? Do you have any words of advice for any recent graduates who might be in that position right now?
It’s pretty hard, but don’t be disheartened. I graduated in 2012 and I still find it difficult to keep going when there’s a gap in between jobs, and I still have to have another job to support myself. I think if you just remember that you do it because you love it, and make sure you keep producing new work, keep putting yourself out there and good things will happen.
– What are you currently working on? Are there any projects coming up that you can talk about?
I’ve got a load of new ideas I’m working on at the moment, I’ve had to stop taking new jobs and close my shop temporarily while I get settled here in Germany, but it’s been a lovely opportunity to go back to basics, sketching every day, producing personal work and drawing for the fun of it!
Dionne’s work online: