I discovered UK artist Catherine Rowe while looking for a gift for my very horsey aunt. I thought that Catherine’s style was unique and striking and loved that she had practical products made from her designs. I asked if she could put together a “hunting” themed coaster set for my aunt and the image below was what she came up with. Pretty gorgeous isn’t it? The gift was of course well received, and I needed to know more about Catherine and her work. Read on to learn more and see more of her art!
Do you have a day job or are you a professional artist?
I’ve only just very recently started doing my work 100% full time – a scary leap but I haven’t looked back! It’s hard to let go of the guaranteed income of a day-job, but you really do just adapt and make it work if you have the passion and drive.
How did you become an artist? What is your background?
I’d always loved drawing, but I didn’t really have any big plans to be a professional artist. I did train as an illustrator at University but I actually went into jewellery design when I graduated which was an amazing industry to work in for a bit. I was still doing my own designs outside of it and that always had the strongest gravitational pull career wise.
What is your creative process? How do you get inspired?
These days I spend a lot of time doing admin and order fulfillment for my business with my existing designs. I have way less time to create new ones, so it feels totally precious to me when I feel a real pang of inspiration or creativity… the annoying thing is, it usually comes out of nowhere! I do have to pay attention to it though, as it can be very fleeting and if I don’t indulge in that creative side very often I can become really down by all the boring bits of running my business!
How did you arrive at your current style? It’s a very unique and eye catching!
Thank you! When I was at university I really struggled to find an identity and uniqueness in my work. I loved drawing with ink and print-making but it didn’t quite feel ‘enough’. I discovered the medium I work with, scraperboard, at an arts and crafts fair in Cambridge where I studied, and totally fell in love with it. It is always black and white, which I found quite limiting when I wanted to start creating designs for a more commercial purpose, so I started coloring it on Photoshop. I love drawing but also have a passion for digital design applications, so it’s the perfect balance for me.
Do you have any artists or photographers that have really inspired you?
Most of the artists who inspire me were working around the 19th century. I love how works by artists like William Morris & Josef Frank have stood the test of time and are still so popular today. That’s what I want my designs to do. I like to think they are difficult to place in time.
How did animals become your primary subject?
I’ve always loved sketching animals. It’s kind of like an impulsion. I remember on a drawing trip to Spain with my university we were tasked with sitting in the streets and sketching passer-by’s. I got scolded for sitting in front of a fishery and sketching all the beautiful fish on ice in the window! I do believe studying humans is the perfect foundation for learning to sketch well, but I’ve just never found it as interesting as sketching wildlife.
What is your history with horses? Do you ride?
I used to ride when I was younger – we lived in the countryside surrounded by fields and lots of horses. I don’t get to see as many living in the city now, but when I visit my family I love to walk through fields near the beach where there are the most gorgeous horses. I find them totally magical!
What is your favorite thing about being an artist?
Even though it’s new and still a bit daunting, I love working for myself. It’s hard to put things into perspective when you’re bogged down with lots of work, but sometimes I do sit back and make myself really see I get to draw for a living. It’s such a great feeling!
What is your least favorite thing about being an artist?
The counter side to the freedom and joy of working for myself is how business savvy I needed to become, and fast! I think you’re extremely lucky if you are blessed with both artistic skills and brains! It has been, and still is, a big learning process for me.
Do you have any upcoming shows you would like to promote?
I don’t tend to exhibit my work or sell in person so much anymore, but I am excited to announce I’m developing a completely new line of products with new designs. I’ve been working hard on how I can start wholesaling my products as there is now a demand which I’m so happy about. I’m hoping to launch my brand new website with all new products at the end of this year.
Do you take commissions, and if so, please tell us about your commission process.
I tend to only take commissions from publishers or other companies. I really enjoy materializing their visions. This will most likely be for products such as greetings cards, gift wrap, wallpaper and so on. As well as producing and selling my own products, I belong to an amazing art licensing agency called Yellow House who take my work and sort of ‘rent’ it to companies for their products. I did used to take pet portrait commissions but I have unfortunately had to stop doing this as my time has become so precious I’ve had to prioritize what I take on!
When I am commissioned, I’m a sucker for a mood board. I create a visually rich catalogue of inspiration and then just start sketching and it often comes very naturally. The great thing about coloring and finishing my work digitally is tweaks and changes can quite easily be made without me having to amend the original artwork. The original scraperboard artwork can take days for me to complete.
How can our readers purchase your work?
You can see my collection on my website or my Etsy shop. You can also find details about stockists on my website, too.