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Diving into being a full-time artist

December 17, 2020

Katherine Quinn is an artist at heart – and she always has been. After working at EIT’s IDEAschool for 21 years, she now decided it was time to devote all her time to being a full-time illustrator.

“I’m no good at selling my work though,” Katherine admits. “I’m glad to have found an art agent in England, who is dealing with enquiries, contracts, licensing, and my portfolio.”

Katherine has a unique style and her commercial audience is growing. Katherine’s designs are sold worldwide and turned into fabric and lifestyle products, such as stationery items, w

Katherine Quinn with the children’s book that she has illustrated.

rapping paper, greeting cards, plates, phone covers, or take-away cups. She also sells patterns and designs on the online platform Spoonflower. Recently she has been involved with Apple Arcade to create a pattern app. Katherine was one of twelve international artists to each illustrate 15 different countries, which she says was challenging but fun.

Katherine’s creative talent was nurtured by her parents from an early age. She painted and experimented a lot, and as she grew older found her own niche – fine art and illustrations.

Katherine said that one of her biggest influencers was her father. “Dad worked at Marineland and was passionate about the ocean. He also had many inspiring books about sea life and whales that I enjoyed browsing.” He loved snorkelling, fishing, and boating, and so does Katherine. It doesn’t come as a surprise that her art is dominated by whales, sea creatures and nature. A frequently appearing character is an awkward yet adorable looking girl with long arms who seemed to have jumped out of a dream.

After completing a Diploma in Visual Arts in Design at EIT in 1997, the online course “Make art that sells” took Katherine’s skills to the next level. One of the key take-aways was that artists have to love deeply what they are doing. Lilla Rogers, creator of the course, put it in a nutshell, “People buy your joy.” Katherine also learned about the importance of marketing and networking. Instagram has become an essential and powerful marketing channel. “One of my clients said she followed me for a year before contacting me,” Katherine says.

Inspiration comes and goes – also depending on the project. While she has already illustrated a children’s book, her long-term project – writing and illustrating her own children’s book – is yet to be brought to fruition. “I’m not fond of painting too many people, so it won’t be a book about a classroom full of kids but I’m thinking of a story set in a kelp forest featuring a range of animals.”

What started as a hobby has become a calling. People tell Katherine that she sees things differently. Some weeks ago, Katherine spotted a Magnolia seed pod on the ground. Unlike many people, who would have just swept it up, Katherine picked it up, flattened it, scanned it, added wings and a tiny face, and created a sweet little fairy.