Growing up in the Lake District and spending some time in Canada, UK illustrator Katie Edwards has been closely in touch with the outdoors, the countryside and animals. Her screen print illustrations reflect this appreciation for natural beauty, yet mix this with familiar London cityscapes, creating a beautiful juxtaposition. On a deeper level, zebras crossing the road or a cat's reflection taking shape as a lion are just a few examples of humorous and symbolic threads throughout Katie's work.
Her use of traditional photographic and silkscreen printing techniques creates a hand-crafted, textured aesthetic. Each illustration is individually printed, and sometimes in this process different variations of one theme emerge, creating an unpredictable yet organic experience.
Katie’s illustrations feature in a number of editorials, advertising campaigns and exhibitions. Her upcoming solo show at The Coningsby Gallery in London will feature a latest series of personal screen prints.
Ahead of her show beginning on March 27, we ask Katie about her combination of photography and screen printing, collecting ideas in a sketchbook and symbolism.
Miriam Harris: How would you describe your style?
Katie Edwards: "Screen prints focusing on conceptual ideas, symbolism and metaphors. The innovative juxtaposition of elements often results in a surreal, humorous or thought-provoking image. With the unique textures created with photographic and printmaking techniques."
MH: How did your passion with screen printing come about?
KE: "I was first introduced to screen printing on my art foundation course. From day one I have used screen printing as a medium to place photographs in unusual compositions, which has continued to be the way in which I work for the last 13 years."
MH: Why do you choose to use traditional printing techniques?
KE: "I find all printmaking techniques extremely satisfying, that moment you reveal the print is very pleasing every time. Screen printing appealed to me because it could be combined with photography and I enjoy the printing process, other techniques can be very laborious. The planning and set-up of screen printing can take some time, but once your ready to print it can be fairly quick and enjoyable, producing unique textures every time."
MH: What inspired these latest prints?
KE: "My latest screen prints are ideas that I have been collecting in a sketchbook for sometime - all stand alone pieces and not part of a similar theme."
MH: Tell us a little bit about the creative process.
KE: "My ideas start as a quick sketch just to remind me of the concept in my head, then I will collect photographs to edit and manipulate. Once my design is created, I plan the colours and the layers to be screen printed. Sometimes the experimenting of colours and paper takes place during the printing process, creating very different pieces with each print. Other times the idea is quite set and so I'll print a limited edition of the print, but each print is still original due the process in which I use."
MH: Where does your appreciation for the natural world stem from?
KE: "I grew up in the Lake District, being surrounded by beautiful country side and enjoying outdoor sports. I have a great fondness for all animals, which often make a staring roll in my illustrations. From dogs to birds, animals hold so many metaphors. I also lived in Canada for a few years, inspiring some of my mountain illustrations and features of bears and elk. I now live back in the Lake District."
MH: A lot of your prints mix nature and animals with man-made objects or cityscapes. Is this a conscious choice?
KE: "My style of illustration came about from the juxtaposition of different objects to communicate a new idea. I didn't consciously always include an animal or a natural item, but this was what I was interested in and so were the basis of my ideas. They also hold so many hidden meanings that animals work really well for - creating a symbolic image. Combining animals with cityscapes, for example, I think is just my way of producing a cityscape and I just have to have some nature in there to finish it off."
MH: Which is your favourite screen print and why?
KE: "I have a few but I think Joy is the one I am most proud of. I created it for a project on the theme of joy, and I still remember the 'Aha' moment when I thought of the concept. Intrigue is another favourite, just for its simplicity."
MH: You work with a lot of editorials. Tell us about this collaboration process.
KE: "The articles I am commissioned to create an illustration for are so varied, they are really interesting to receive and I read about something different each time. Sometimes the client will have an idea or an angle to focus on, but most of the time with editorial briefs I just receive the text and then I produce a few different ideas. The client will choose their favourite and then I'll produce the final artwork as a screen print that I then scan in and email the digital file."
MH: What other projects do you have coming up?
KE: "Because of the fairly quick turn around of the projects I work on I don't have them planned in the future. For example I received a new brief today that will be finished by next week. But I do have quite a few art exhibitions planned throughout the year, including shows in Manchester, York and Windsor."