Kat

Chadwick

My name is Kat Chadwick. I make illustrations! I’m super lucky to earn my living working on projects that capture my imagination and make my heart sing. I grew up in New Zealand, but I now live in Melbourne. I really love the creative life and community I have here.

Given the chance, I spend a lot of time daydreaming because I really enjoy getting lost in my thoughts and ideas. The three things currently inspiring me the most are the eccentric kiwi musician Connan Mockasin, the ever-evolving succulent plantings outside my studio, and biking home along the Yarra river as the sun sets over the city (often listening to Connan Mockasin). I think I might hold the record for loading my bike panniers with fresh market produce!

My secret skill is making ridiculous birthday cakes for my nieces.

I originally studied fine arts in New Zealand but really enjoy the more commercial nature of illustration, especially the problem-solving involved with working to a client brief. When I moved to Melbourne I studied graphic design at Swinburne University. The course gave me a really good grounding in design and also established in me a very strong work ethic.

My work is all about the hand drawn and inky line. There is often a playful element too!

The key to keeping relevant, for me personally, is being engaged both in my illustration community and in the everyday happenings around me. For instance, I like to watch people go about their daily life, notice what they do, what they say, what they wear, the places they go. These details have a habit of surfacing in my work, in one way or another. My studio is currently a beautiful space in the Mercator Building at the Abbotsford Convent. It is a gorgeous and inspiring place to work. I share with a group of creative and talented friends (plus the occasional peacock).

The best thing about working on commercial projects is the challenge to resolve a client brief in the most relevant and engaging way I possibly can. Here’s a recent editorial I created for Assemble Papers magazine. I had fun imagining our transition to a more green community, complete with a pot plant dwelling!

Not long ago I created a series of isometric maps for the Greater Melbourne Cemetery Trust. I was required to map burial sites, crematoriums and over-the-top elaborate mausoleums, in a charming manner, while conforming with their brand’s fairly corporate look and feel. I’ve never spent much time at cemeteries so I found the site visits fascinating. This is another aspect of my job I really love—never knowing what topic or situation I’m going to be commissioned to illustrate next!

One of my favourite projects recently was creating ‘ugly’ produce characters for the IMA project cafe. IMA produces delicious Japanese meals from imperfect produce. Saggy Tits Lemon and her friends adorn IMA’s windows, coffee cups, menus, etc.

I loved trawling through the online archives to find fun and quirky things to include in this visual collage for Falls Festival’s 25th Anniversary.

Here’s another piece I’m really proud of. It was created for the Victorian Racing Club for Carnival week. It was a real challenge to map all the elements of such a complicated and hierarchical site in an engaging and user-friendly way.

I loved trawling through the online archives to find fun and quirky things to include in this visual collage for Falls Festival’s 25th Anniversary.

Here’s another piece I’m really proud of. It was created for the Victorian Racing Club for Carnival week. It was a real challenge to map all the elements of such a complicated and hierarchical site in an engaging and user-friendly way.

One of the most fun jobs I’ve done recently was an editorial piece about how the digestive system is ‘stimulated’ by bitter foods. I decided to draw a digestive system and a grapefruit having a ‘stimulating’ first date. I enjoyed the challenge of creating a cute and flirty digestive system. Yes, you really can make a character out of anything!

It’s really important to dedicate time to personal work because it is both relaxing and a way to hone my skills. Here are some pages from my sketchbook. I love how observational drawing uses quite a different part of my brain from my illustration work. I find focused sketching super relaxing, almost like meditation.

Lately in my personal work I’ve also returned to my art school roots and started doing life drawing classes again. I really love it!

Generally my work starts by coming up with ideas, either in written form or via rough doodles. After gathering visual references online, I’ll then hop onto pencil sketches to get the content and composition right. From there, I hand draw the line work in ink. Once the ink is dry I scan the drawing/s and compile in Photoshop, before adding colour and textures in layered Illustrator files.

Recently I’ve been playing around with Procreate. It’s exciting to see how my sketching translates to this medium. I can also see the flexibility it will add to my practice, especially in terms of generating roughs as well as making it much simpler to work while I travel.

I was lucky enough to create work for the Guide Dogs Victoria’s fundraising auction held at the State Library of Victoria. Partnered with one of their clients, I literally drew his story over a vintage Collection Dog. Aside from being a fun process, it gave me a real insight into the challenges that visually impaired people face and the brilliant ways they work around them.

I really loved running ‘Draw a cat with Kat’ workshops at the National Gallery of Victoria, in conjunction with the Andy Warhol/Ai Weiwei exhibition. I’ll always remember the thrill of seeing all the uniquely beautiful felines drawn by the throngs of kiddos who dropped by during the week-long Kids' Summer Festival.

If you want to find out even more about me, here is a recent article about my practice that featured in The Design Files.

That’s me! If you want more, check out my full folio and Instagram. Got a brief? Contact me and the good folks at Jacky Winter.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.

With Jacky Winter you work directly with the artist alongside a hands-on producer—it’s a power-up for your artwork commission.