Meet Katy Pillinger – illustrator, designer and all-round arty type based in Truro. Not too long ago Katy took the leap into freelance design and has spent the past few years perfecting her unique and colourful style. Not only is she now a prolific Etsy seller, but you’ve probably seen her work featured in some pretty fun places (such as internet giant Not On The Highstreet and a myriad of artisan markets). Tucked away in her own little corner of the South West, Katy is vocal about her love for the West Country and the tremendous talent that the region produces…
Katy, what made you take the leap to go full-time as an illustrator/maker?
I never really considered what my career would be when I was growing up, but I always suspected it would be something creative. Gosh, I would never have imagined that I would be where I am now, working as a freelance illustrator from the comfort of my own home with my two cats. It’s quite honestly a dream job. But, it certainly didn’t happen for me overnight.
Whilst I working as a waitress my side business ‘Katy Pillinger Designs’ began to emerge. I would design and sew in-between my shifts and on days off. I won’t lie, I basically had no life. I suspect there will be plenty of micro-business owners that can relate to this. What started as a side hustle became all-consuming, but I loved it. I remember saying to myself – whilst sitting at a tiny makeshift table in my living room – “wouldn’t it be amazing if I could make a living from this?”. Soon, I had my first stockist. I set up an online Etsy shop, commissions were steadily coming in and I realized I could making a living from my passion. So, I took the leap of faith and became a full-time freelance designer, maker, and illustrator and I haven’t looked back since!
Who or what inspires you to create your work?
I absolutely adore the work of Carson Ellis. I love the humour of her characters and the playfulness of her illustrative style. She is most definitely an inspiration to me! This may sound silly, but I also find Instagram hugely inspiring. I literally see the works of illustrators/creatives from every corner of the world on my breakfast table with me whilst I eat my porridge. I find other’s success and raw talent immensely inspiring and motivating – Bodil Jane, Fran Meneses and Holly Exley, to name a few. But ultimately my inspiration comes from my home, my childhood nostalgia, my love for food, my cats, plants and my imagination.
What are your go-to tools of the trade?
My watercolour set and my wacom graphics tablet are tools that I couldn’t be without. All my illustrations start as watercolours and then I tweak them in photoshop.
If your studio was on fire and you could only grab one thing – what would it be?
This question makes me slightly palpitate. This would be my worst nightmare as my studio is inside my home! Obviously it would be my two cats. But, there is a photograph on my bedroom wall of me, my dad and my sister from when I was small. I would have to save this as it brings back some lovely memories that could never be replaced.
What is your favourite thing about being based in Cornwall?
You guys! The customers, bloggers, fellow artists and small business owners who continue to support our little Cornish creative community. I have met some amazing people at local fairs, some of which I am lucky enough to now call my friends. I also avoid stress as much as possible and I find the pace of life in Cornwall really suits me.
If you could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be and why?
Yikes, that’s tricky. I think if I could collaborate with anyone, it would have had to have been Roald Dahl. He was my childhood hero. I would spend hours listening to his audiobooks as a small child and to be able to work with someone with such an incredible imagination would have been stupendous. I mean, seriously… snozzcubers? Pure genius!
Finally, where can we find your work?
I have a website with a list of stockists katypillinger.com and also you can find some of my prints and illustrative gifts online via my Etsy shop. You can also follow me on Instagram for sneaky behind the scene snaps and updates.