Creative Dundee

Spotlight: Louise Kirby on Place, Expression and the Business of Creativity

For this edition of Spotlight, Lynne Martin interviews illustrator and designer Louise Kirby. Besides both being part of Amps, Lynne runs the Creative Accelerator with Elevator which Louise was part of last year. Applications are now open for Elevator’s Creative Accelerator programme, so if you’re interested, let Lynne know by registering your interest.

Lynne Martin: Where is your favourite place to be and why?

Louise Kirby: I love being outside amongst nature, particularly the trees, it makes me feel good, calm and gives me a bit of me-time. I love going around Crombie County Park with Rhubarb the dog and I’m always spotting things that inspire me, from textures of tree barks, getting a glimpse of squirrels or heron, the way different textures or colours sit together.

LM: Why is it important for you to communicate a sense of place through your work?

LK: I feel having a sense of place really connects people to their surroundings, makes them feel at home, and resonates with them as it’s so bespoke to them and their area. I love creating bespoke responses to different locations that bring out the positive with meaningful patterns or imagery and bespoke colour palettes. Our places and environments can make us feel good.

LM: Do you think Covid has changed our relationship with the places we live?

LK: Not so much for me, as I’m always looking and being inspired by our surroundings but I can see others are now appreciating what’s around them and what’s on their doorstep.

LM: This question was passed on from Liam on his Spotlight Interview – what formative memories do you have of consciously experiencing art or creativity as a way to express yourself?

LK: As a kid, I have memories of making patterns with a fork in cottage pies or playing with the elements of fuzzy felt to create images. Later at DJCAD during the taster printed textiles block, I was encouraged to work at scale, be more playful, experimental, and expressive and this is where I found my passion for print.

LM: You use colour and pattern in your work to great effect. If you had to choose, would you choose to only work in greyscale but keep pattern, or work in colour but lose the detail?

LK: Oh my, that’s a difficult question, I don’t think I could choose as I love how the juxtaposition of colours. They can really lift you up and make you feel joyful and I’m an obsessive pattern maker and love to play and clash them together.  Maybe I should do an experiment to see if I can only do one……

LM: As a creative person, how business-minded do you have to be?

LK: I think if you want to make a living you need to be business-minded unless you’ve got a team around you that can do sales, social media, accounts, admin, and all the rest that happens behind the scenes. And also there is the balance of your creative practice and making commercial decisions that sit comfortably with you.

LM: How important is it that a business support programme understands you and your work, and why?

LK: I think any business support programme needs to work out what makes that person/business tick to get a really good understanding of the aims and values so that help is more focussed.

LM: At the end of last year, you did a Creative Accelerator programme with Elevator to move your business forward – what was it like?

LK: I enjoyed the mix of people in my cohort – there were lots of different businesses there: fashion, stage fighting, musical therapy, and dinosaur illustration to name a few! It was intense fitting in the two days a week for 12 weeks as well as keeping on top of my business, but I’m so glad I did it. The Accelerator allowed me to take stock and make sense of all the stuff tangled up in my head, and it’s put me on track for continuing to invest in my professional development. It’s a good network to be part of, and it hasn’t stopped at the end of the course. Everyone involved really cares about helping each creative business.

For a previous collaboration between Lynne and Louise, watch their Split Screen interview!

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