{the interview series} Kim Welling

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Hoje estou à conversa com Kim Welling, uma ilustradora holandesa que descobri recentemente enquanto passeava pelo etsy e cujo trabalho não me passou despercebido. Adoro as suas ilustrações simples e bem-humoradas, o seu trabalho em 3D, as personagens que habitam os seus belos alfinetes de madeira ou porcelana.
Se não conhecem o trabalho de Kim aproveitem esta oportunidade para o descobrir, se já conhecem continuem também a ler, porque vão certamente ficar a saber um pouco mais sobre esta artista!

Não se esqueçam de seguir {the interview series} no facebook e de reler todas as entrevistas aqui.
(Por motivos óbvios de extensão e compreensão do texto, tanto pelos entrevistados como pelos potenciais leitores do resto do mundo, a entrevista segue em inglês.)

Today I'm chatting with Kim Welling, a Dutch illustrator I recently discovered through etsy and whose work don't go unnoticed. I love her simple and humorous illustrations, her 3D work, the characters who inhabit her beautiful wood or porcelain pins. If you don't know the work of Kim, take the time to discover it, if you already know it, continue reading anyway, because you'll surely get to know a bit more about this artist!

Don't forget to follow {the interview series} on facebook and to read all the previous interviews here.

Kim Welling
Utrecht, the Netherlands
site | blog | shop

1. Let’s pretend we don’t know each other and I’ve never heard about Kim Welling. Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an Illustrator based in Utrecht, the Netherlands. I used to be a fashion designer but loved drawing so much that I went back to art school to become an illustrator and started my own business as such in 2007. Because I’d like to do many different things, I’m also teaching illustration and own a webshop alongside my freelance illustration work.

2. You work as an illustrator, designer and arts teacher. Could you tell us how was this creative passion born and which academic path lead you here?
Well, I already knew at ten years old that I wanted to go to artschool but back then I thought that was all about painting flowers ;) It wasn’t until I was 13 that I knew I’d like to become a fashion designer. Luckily I got accepted at the school of my choice in 1997 at the age of 17 and after graduating started working as a fashion designer/stylist in 2001. I really missed drawing and painting though, as my work was mostly on the computer. In 2004 I decided to go back to art school to study illustration this time. This is probably one of the best choices I ever made and now I’ve been working as an illustrator since 2007.
First I did mostly editorial work and projects for kids but slowly begun designing my own products. It wasn’t until 2010 that I seriously started to make things on a bigger scale. I sold a lot of printed vintage china at a local exhibition and after that I opened the Etsy shop in January 2011. It has been growing ever since.

3. You take your illustrations to the next level, transferring them to ceramics, wearable objects or even 3D. What keeps you inspired? What are the main challenges you face when creating 3D work? Share your creative process with us.
I’ve always loved making those little world in diorama boxes, even as a kid, and it stayed with me along the way. Because I used to be in fashion the tranfer to T-shirts was easily made (I’m still designing prints for a dutch childrens clothes brand). From there on it started looking for new interesting materials as I’m always curious and also get bored a bit quickly so new input is always welcome. I see a tendency towards vintage and ‘old school’ material and objects like porcelain or wood. When I discovered how to print on porcelain china (I simply asked Camilla Engman, one of my favorite illustrators who designed an amazing china set) and loved porcelain so much that I wanted to extend this technique. A while ago I had some left over wooden pieces and made those into Portrait pins and now I thought, ‘why not make porcelain pins or brooches?’. One of my friends is an amazing jewelry designer who works a lot with clays and glass and she provided me with porcelain clay and helped me with the porcelain baking technique.
My main challenges here are mostly getting the technique right. For example: the best firing temperature. With the printed china it varies with every color and it’s very hard to get it right so all colors look bright and lovely. Because I’m using vintage pieces, each sort of porcelain influences the outcome of the colors too. It’s just something you have to learn by doing this a lot and sometimes this makes me a bit frustrated with impatience.

4. What mediums do you use to create your original drawings and why do you prefer them? And how about digital mediums?
I use grey pencils (preferably B2-6 because of the nice dark grey) or black stabilo fineliners. I draw all my items first and then scan them into the computer. Then I adjust the black and white balance to make the lines more crisp. If all my drawings are adjusted I pick out my colors. I like to look at images from the fifties or sixties for inspiration, packages designs are my fave, the colors are so well balanced! Now the only thing I have to do left is to color the lines and images on the computer.

5. Tell us now about the ceramic techniques you use. Do you always choose vintage porcelain? Where do you find these treasuries?
I try very hard to always use vintage, sometimes it’s a bit tricky to come by little bowls or mugs and then I choose new ones I like. Teapots are a tricky one to as they are often quite expensive.
I’m just always on the hunt for nice pieces at local vintage shops or markets. People bring me nice stuff too, my friends are on the lookout and if they have a plate or teapot they don’t use anymore or from a grandmother who move to a smaller home they bring it to me. I actually got a lot of beautiful plates from my own gran!

6. I can’t resist your lovely Instant Comfort Boxes! Here you combine illustration with a simple but inspiring quote for those not so happy days… this is great! How did you come up with this bright idea? How are these 3D compositions born?
A few months ago I was having a rough time myself after a not so nice relationship. I was feeling a bit down and insecure and though about what could cheer me up. Around that time I spotted lovely designed matchboxes in Uppercase Magazine and well… one and one is two so that’s when the idea for the boxes was born. The name ‘Instant Comfort Pocket Box’ came to me while driving home from my teaching job at night, it just popped up in my head.

7. In September you’re planning to launch an online workshop at Camp Pikaland. Share a bit about it with us.
In this 4 week workshop I’ll be sharing my 3D secrets with you! You’ll learn how to build a diorama box but also how to apply your drawings to other surfaces like windows or furniture, it’s all up to you what you’d like to explore. I’ll guide you through it with tips, tricks and tutorials!

8. You’re a successful artist and etsy seller, your creations travel all around the world! What means do you use to promote your work?
My blog is probably my biggest way to promote what I do. I also like that it’s not so pushy or pr like (I hate spam and wouldn’t want to do that to others!) Also, treat your buyers and followers how you want to be treated yourself. I always read everything people send me and try to reply if I can. This way you keep in touch with your audience.

9. Would you share with us a regular day at work?
I try to get at my studio at 10 in the morning (it’s a 10 minute bicycle ride from my home) where I first do my mail and orders. From then on I basically work till around 4 / 5 (I’m the kind of person who keeps working during lunch). My inspiration is up for around 6 hours a day, after that nothing comes out anymore. When I’m very busy I’d like to do an extra working day in the weekend instead of working late.
My favorite food ‘at work’ are whole grain crackers (from the local wholefood store) with cheese and juice, I live on those!

10. Would you give us a glimpse of your working space? Describe it and tell us what you love most about it.
Well, it’s quite small, 10 square meters with a big white wooden desk. I’m very organized so all my supplies are in transparent boxes in a cabinet that reaches to the ceiling. My books (I’m addicted to design books) are closely at my desk in another open cabinet where I also keep my pens, pencils and other drawing stuff.
The studio is part of a small building with all sort of young designers.

11. What else are you passionate about doing?
As far as other passions go… I have so many! I love baking and cooking, gardening (eating your own grown veggies is amazing!) but also reading and decorating my house/redoing old furniture. I recently started Bikram Yoga (the kind where you do yoga in a very very hot room) and I run 3 times a week (or I try to), this keeps my stress level low…

12. You live in Utrecht, The Netherlands – an European country I’d love to visit one day. Tell us a bit about the city where you live and what you love most about it. Would you like to live anywhere else one day?
Utrecht is Amsterdam but smaller. It’s quite beautiful with its canals and old houses. The good thing about Utrecht is that it’s by all means a city but feels like a village. People know each other and the distances are short, which is very convenient as we cycle a lot! There are a lot of young creative people in Utrecht which reflects in the many art and cultural events and parties. To be honest, I’d be happy to live here all my life! But… If I had to choose another place to live it would probably be somewhere in Scandinavia: Sweden or Norway. That combination of stylishness and lots of nature seems very attractive to me!

13. If you could live in any historical era of your choice, what would it be? Why?
Probably somewhere between the forties and fifties. I love the design, colors and music from that period. Things were so well made back then, quality and beauty together.

14. What advices would you give to someone who would also like to become an illustrator?
Be inspired by what drives you. Things that are close to yourself often make the best and most interesting works. Also invest in a good website, make (or have someone do this for your) good, bright pictures of your work and design a logo that reflects your style and what you stand for. This will have last for a long time so make it well!
Also, don’t sell yourself to cheap (and not to expensive either)!

15. What are your plans for the future? And your most unrealistic dreams?
Now that my shop is up and running I’d like to do more editorial work again. Illustrations for magazines and such, national and international. A big dream is illustrating a book about food or cooking, my two passions combined!

Now some quick question and answer game so we can find a bit more about you and your tastes!

Tell us one: book: The curious incident about the dog in the nighttime
music: Kings of convenience
movie: The hudsucker proxy and Happy go lucky
personality/artist: Camilla Engman and Nigel Peake
color: grayish mint with ocre yellow
object: the ring I inherited from my grandmother
animal: my pet rabbit Seb (who acts like a dog)
drink: ginger tea or nice red wine like rioja
food: homemade zucchini bread
season of the year: summer!
travel destination: south coast of the USA
piece of clothing: dress by humanoid
secret: I love watching bad reality TV, so relaxing

Thank you for inspiring us this week Kim, it was a pleasure having you here!


  1. desconheço mas achei um trabalho fascinante.
    mais uma excelente partilha:)

  2. Lovely artist and great interview. And Utrecht is really small Amsterdam :) Ana, you are giving so much inspirations with these interview series, I love them.

  3. What an amazing find!!!!!!!!!!! :D


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