Featured Artist: Kirbee Lawler

FK chats with Sydney based Kirbee Lawler about her illustrations.

How would you describe the style of your work?
I would describe the style of my work as being whimsical, natural, quirky, dream-like. I love story telling and especially how art can tell different stories to different people. I like to get as much detail into my art as possible – I love getting caught up in textures and patterns, and love that you can almost feel the fur of an animal and the bark on a tree with your eyes. When I was young I used to love the story books with illustrations that looked so real – but you knew they weren’t real because things like swamp monsters don’t exist (right?) and I like to juxtapose those two things, looking real but at the same time knowing that it isn’t.

I like to think of my brooches as an extension of my illustrations that they are little part of a story that people can carry  around with them pinned to their favourite cardigan or dress. And it would be even more special to think that these brooches would be kept as a keepsake and passed down through family and friends.

What is your background and how did you get to where you are today?
I am a Graphic Designer and freelance as an illustrator too. I have always wanted to create and I love that as a Graphic Designer I can create things for other people but as an Illustrator and artist I am able to create things for myself too. I think it is a delicate balance getting these two parts right, each keeps the other part going!

I always used to draw for myself – my school books were full of drawings instead of Maths, but I never though of pursuing my art as a career. A few years ago I submitted one of my drawings to Curvy, a book that selects the top female artists and publishes them, and I was selected to be in it. At first I thought it was a mistake – how could it be possible that I could be selected to be published alongside some of my favourite artists! But it was the push I needed to start taking my art more serious and getting it out there. I really do pick that moment in time as the point where I said to myself – maybe I can actually do this!

From there it has been a lot of hard work, getting my work seen online, submitting to lots of books and participating in lots of group shows! It has been worth it though, I have seen a big improvement in the art that I make, and the more I do the more I want to do! It is really exciting to be able to do what I love to do and have other people appreciate it too.

Where do you find inspiration for your pieces?
I am inspired by lots of things, but I would have to say that just watching and taking in the world around me inspires me the most. It is the simple things like watching my dog run around in the back yard, or my bunny sleeping inspire ideas for new drawings, and things like old photos and stories passed down inspire me too! I love antiques and rummaging through old things – just thinking about where those objects have been and the people that they have belonged to makes me feel inspired to create!

What are some of your favourite blogs and websites for inspiration?
I love fashion, DIY and photography blogs. Some of my favourite blogs to visit are A Beautiful Mess, Daydream Lily, The Dainty Squid, Rock n Roll Bride and of course the Finders Keepers Blog!

What do you love most about working with paper and pencil?
I love that you can start with nothing, just a crisp white page and end up with a whole new creation that would have otherwise not have existed. I love that with paper and pencil you and build up the detail very slowly, but that you also don’t have to wait for paint to dry! I am a bit impatient when it comes to that!

How has your creative style developed and what is your creative process?
Back when I was at high school my style of drawing was totally different. It was bold and I drew with felt tip markers and pen, and using coloured markers. It was more graphic and I was really influenced by tattoo art. Since then I have ditched the pens, I only use them very occasionally, and moved to softer pencils. I felt as though the things that I wanted to draw changed, so I changed my medium to one that suited better. I still love tattoos and tattoo style art, and try to incorporate those elements where I can, but I wanted a softer look that I could work more detail into. So that is where I am at now! Although, even when I look at my work from when I first started drawing in pencil my style has changed too – I am spending more and more time working on the details!

My creative process starts with an idea, then from there I find reference images if I need to be able to draw a face or a pose of an animal, then I start with a basic sketch and work that sketch up. I very rarely do a initial sketch, I like to see how the drawing comes along within itself instead of planning it out too much! Once the drawing has been finished in black and white I may add colour, or just leave it black and white. I then scan the drawing in and create a digital file that I can create prints from, using Photoshop to clean the drawing up.

What has been some of your favourite projects?
Last year I worked on some illustrations for Mambo, that was really fun. I have had my work featured in two Curvy books, that was a great experience both times, being a part of the exhibitions and launches. On a more personal project level I am currently working on a children’s book, which is probably my favourite project so far. I am creating the illustrations as well as writing little poems to accompany each image. I can’t wait to finish all of the drawings and the stories that go along with them.

What aspirations do you have for your artwork and label?
I would love to turn my art into a full time job, that would be a dream of mine come true. This year I hope to do some markets and get my work out there a little bit more, as well as finishing my story book and hopefully having an exhibition to launch the book. As long as I can keep on creating, whether it is design, art or making brooches I will be happy. This is what I love to do and I feel very lucky to be able to do something that I love to do!


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