• sbillinger

Interview with Artist, Katie Thomas

I had the pleasure of interviewing fellow artist, Katie Thomas (@katiethomasart). Katie’s work has been featured and sold in shows and galleries in the UK and Australia. I asked her a few questions about how she has developed her career as an artist.

What is your background?

I loved art in school and in college I chose Art, graphic design and textiles. I went on to do a diploma in Art/Graphic Design. Then in University, I received a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and Illustration. It wasn’t until 8 years later that I picked it up again after I had 2 children and wanted to make an extra income from home.

Where do you get your inspiration and who are your biggest influences?

I think I’m addicted to Instagram. I scroll it daily and love looking at other artists. Even though I’m not an abstract artist I am really drawn to it. Also, Pinterest. If I have an idea in my head, I make a board up of paintings and see what colours and styles I like. I also try and figure out why I am drawn to them, what makes a painting work?

How have you developed your career?

When I first started out, I drew local scenes and made prints and cards and sold them at local markets and craft fairs. I entered an art competition at a gallery and won a spot to sell my work there. I became part of the cooperative and rented a wall space. Similarly, in another town I joined another cooperative and sold artwork in their gallery/shop too. I painted local scenes close to those shops and visitors and tourists really enjoyed them. People felt a connection to the paintings. At the same time, I built up a pet portrait following. I think I may have painted about a hundred dogs, cats, horses and even people’s houses. I have had a few solo exhibitions that I have organized myself and even had the opportunity to meet Prince Charles with my artwork! But all that was in Wales, UK. I feel like I’ve started again in Australia.

How do you seek out opportunities?

I look out for art competitions at local galleries. In Australia I have joined an art collective. We put on regular exhibitions and art markets. It’s made up of around 80 local artists. It’s been really nice to be part of an art group. I approached a gallery near me with my work and although they sent me away the first time with some constructive criticism, I went back a few months later with some new bigger paintings and started displaying work there. I’m about to have my first solo exhibition in Australia with them and now I also run their Instagram page.

How do you price your work?

Honestly, I wasn’t too sure. I always had a habit of underselling myself. Now I put my trust in the gallery I’m with and let them price and sell my work for me. If you can sell a few at the price you’ve asked for then you’re on the right track I say. I don’t want to over price or under-price my work. Generally, if I feel comfortable in saying the price then it’s okay. I also gage it with the price of the canvas, the size of the canvas and how many hours or days/weeks it has taken me to paint.

What has been your biggest challenge?

Having to start over again in Australia. People knew me and my work in the UK and I had a lot of returning customers wanting commissions. Also, I struggle with saying I’m an artist when people ask me what I do. I’m working on it! Two years into living in Australia I’m hoping I now know enough people to fill the gallery on opening night.

What is your creative process?

I’m a big walker and explorer. I find all my paintings have started with pictures I have taken on walks. I’d say at the moment my inspiration is big blue skies, the sea and open spaces. I love the light in Australia. With a blank canvas I work quickly to cover up all the white with an initial layer. I use a broad knife to cover a large area. I think it is meant to be a wallpaper scraper but it worked well for me. Then I add more layers to build up the scene. I like to use the big palette knife to paint as it stops me from being too detailed and leaves a semi abstract feel. I also stand back and take pictures as I go. If I find I’ve overworked a painting I quite often go back through my pictures and put back in the elements that I liked from before.

If you were to give a new, aspiring artist some advice, what would that be?

Paint, paint, and paint. Critique your own work. Find what you like or don’t like about your own paintings and about what you like painting. Build up your own unique style. Don’t be afraid to experiment. I wouldn’t have known that I like the effect a palette knife or a rubber brayer has on my paintings if I hadn’t tried them out. When selling start small and local or even on social media. Try selling platforms that don’t cost the earth. Etsy is a good one. If you’re in Australia then Bluethumb is free to upload work. Try and find what works for you.

You can visit her website here: www.katiethomasart.com

If you live in Australia, here are the details for Katie’s upcoming show:

“18 Beaches” Art Exhibition

April 10 – 24, 2021

5/161 South Creek Road, Cromer 2099 NSW

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