Saturday, 18 January 2014

In Defence Of Our Dreams: KATIE

‘In Defence Of Our Dreams’ is a project where I interview various people about their pursuit of a creative life. Pursing creativity and wanting to do something different or special with your life can be very challenging and disheartening at times, so I’ve always loved to read how other people are coping with it and how they find the drive to carry on when things are difficult. If you’d like to know more or you’d like to take part, look HERE.

Welcome to another instalment of In Defence Of Our Dreams. In today’s edition I am talking to the gorgeous and talented Katie, owner and creator of the design brand Katie Michelle. Not only is Katie talented and wonderful, she also happens to be my real life BFF (Yes I said BFF. What of it??) but don’t let her terrible choice in friends deter you! Katie is following her dream of having a creative inspired business and has even made some personal sacrifices to do so. I sat down with Katie earlier this week and we spoke about our lives, her husband, my raging love for Thirty Seconds To Mars (which certainly is raging), and our families. Oh, and I interviewed her for my blog, too :p


Welcome Katie! Thank you so much for taking part in In Defence Of Our Dreams. To begin, tell us a little bit about Katie Michelle.
Katie Michelle is me! My first and middle name actually, and it is the brand name for my designs :) 

So Katie Michelle is a design brand. What type of things do you design?

I create a range of design motifs such as repeat patterns, images and pictures.  I guess you could say that these designs are really my “product”, but to launch my design range I will be applying them to stationery items.  In the future I hope to release my designs on other goods such as home wares.  I dream of having a range of kitchen items, linen and things like lampshades.  Just visualising it now makes me so happy.  I guess it is combining my interests: I love stationery, I love decorating and I love art and design.  So I guess Katie Michelle is really that – combining my loves into something that people can then actually use in their own lives and homes, and hopefully love too.

A sample of Katie Michelle’s designs.


That’s a really beautiful way to put it! And as a proud owner of a Katie Michelle tea towel (Merry Christmas to ME!), I can tell you that people will love your designs :) How long does it take to create each one?

It depends on the design I guess.  At the moment I can spend a fair it of time trying to translate the idea in my head into an actual work using the design software and drawings, as I am still learning the computer side of things.  As I get used to the functionality of the software things will start to be resolved in a more reasonable time frame, but the first few designs I created took days.  I was watching YouTube tutorials to try and learn the skills I needed.  I also tend to sit on things for a while before I tick them off as complete.  I find it can be good to have a break from something and come back to it with fresh eyes and new energy.

I definitely agree with that. Time in the drawer is invaluable. What made you want to become a designer?
My grandmother was an oil painter and my nana was a knitting, crochet and cross stitch genius.  My mother and a close family friend were craft business women and they operated in partnership together for a long time, selling at stalls and things.  They were able to pursue their passion, support one another and earn money (well, a little) whilst both being stay at home mothers.  I had a lot of creative influences growing up and always did various creative things.  Focusing that energy has been a little more difficult.  I have so many various creative interests and have always wanted to do something in this sphere, since it has always been such a big part of my life. 


Creativity often runs in families :) Now I know that this year you made the big decision to go part time at work so you could follow your dreams. Can you tell us about us a little bit about that?

I have a very normal and practical “paying bills” desk job.  I have been doing various office jobs since I graduated from uni. I never intended for it to be long term, but I confess I just kind of got stuck in it.  It took me a while to really commit and start directing my life toward this dream, but after losing a beautiful friend who was a real creative inspiration and encouragement to me, it just hit home that you can’t wait and really have to do things now.  I promised her I would do it, so despite money and stupid judgmental people (who think working in an office less somehow equates to lunacy) I managed to secure an agreement with my work for reduced hours.  Just having that extra time and feeling more engaged with life has given me more creative energy.  I have been lucky and it was a great decision.

Good on you! You should be very proud :3 What’s the hardest part about pursuing a creative life?
For me, it is probably other people’s judgement. There are people who believe it is naïve to think you can do this as a career, or that it isn’t “financially viable” or whatever.  I get some interesting responses when I tell people what I am working towards, and sometimes it can be hard not to buy into their world-view too.  You also have to remember people have different taste, so not everyone will like what you do, and that is totally fine. 


Very wise words. Not everyone is going to love you, no matter who you are (I swear Jared lives in my brain. That was a Letoism, for those of you playing at home :p) What is the best part?

Hmmm, has to be a tie between the moment where you have the initial idea and all your creative brain space is working away, and then the moment of actually concluding the work and having an end result.  The middle part can be frustrating sometimes (not always!). The parts I enjoy the most are the initial surge of energy as ideas are generating, and the excitement you feel when you then finally have something to show for it.  When I actually sell some of my designs I imagine that’ll feel pretty good too!


Haha, I imagine it will! What has been your biggest learning curve?

I am still learning the business side of things.  There are constantly challenges with that, and I’m still finding my feet.  It has also been some time now since I used any kind of creative design software, so I am re-teaching myself how to use it. That has definitely been a challenge at times.


You know what they say...Challenges help us grow :) Who or what inspires you?

So much inspires me; where should I start? I think being in the world is the most important thing.  Sometimes I feel as though I should be chained to my notebooks or my computer, just pumping out work and ideas.  But the times I feel the most inspired and have the most going on in my creative brain space are the times I get out and just live.  Nature, people, architecture, art, music, fashion, decorating, food; the list continues.  Inspiration really can come from the weirdest and most unexpected places.


So true. I also find that I feel like I’m ‘wasting’ my time if I’m not working, when in reality if I didn’t have other things happening in my life, I’d have nothing to write about. Now music is a huge inspiration to me, so I have to ask…Who are your favourite bands?

That’s a difficult one.  I am not very good at choosing favourites.  I like so much and have such wide and varying tastes in all kind of things, and music is no exception. 
Like you though, I would have to say that Coldplay have been a long-term love.  I also recently saw City and Colour, and they were AMAZING!  I have been really loving Haim, and London Grammar lately.  Alt-J and Foals also get a lot of love from me, as well as great female vocalists like Bat For Lashes and Imogen Heap.


Ah, Coldplay. My first musical love :) I read somewhere that your first *real* love will show you that your first love wasn’t really love at all…Hmmm…Interesting :p :p If your life had a soundtrack, what would your theme song be?
I only get one?  Hehe :)  That’s way too difficult; you know I am not good at choosing favourites!  I’ll just talk general soundtrack - there would definitely be some Sia: Breathe Me, City and Colour: Northern Wind, and probably Madonna: What It Feels Like For A Girl.


Love all three of those songs (though just quietly, I prefer the Glee version of What It Feels Like For a Girl…Don’t lynch me!) What is your ultimate creative dream? If you woke up tomorrow in a world where you could do anything, what would that look like for you?
Ultimately I think it would just be amazing to see people using Katie Michelle items. I would love to be in a café one day and just see someone writing in a journal I made.  That would be an awesome feeling.  To see someone you have never met liking your design and choosing to buy it to use as a part of his or her life would be incredible.  If I could work on Katie Michelle as my full time job (and hopefully no longer from home) that would be even more amazing.


That would be amazing :) Final question…If you could give one piece of advice to people pursuing a creative life, what would that be?
Don’t give up on yourself.   You have to make sure not to let the haters, naysayers and the pessimists get to you.  Keep your chin up!  (And if you have lovely friends and family who can help you and believe in you too, then all the better J)


Awww…That was directed at me, right?? Right?? :p
Thank you so much for taking part, Katie! If you’d like to find out more about Katie Michelle designs (and you should be cause they are AWESOME), you can find Katie:

On Twitter: @designedbykatie

And on her website, which is coming #soon! (I will link to it once it is up and running :) )

This interview has been edited, but the overall answers have not been changed or manipulated.