April 7, 2015

Step inside the home of London-based pencil hoarder and illustrator Katie Halil, aka What Katie Drew

Illustrator Katie Halil’s house is every bit as eclectic and charming as her work. Filled with the fruits of a colourful imagination combined with a heavyweight eBay habit, it’s a Kensington kaleidoscope that looks, in her words, like ‘a rainbow has puked up in here’. We went in for a cuppa and a snoop-around to find out more.

UO: When did you begin illustrating?

Katie: I’ve always been into drawing, I was a very pale kid, always drawing, always reading. At 15 I started drawing on my bedroom wall. I used to do my friend’s art homework. My art A level was all in biro. I thought I should make it more formal so I went to university to study it.

UO: Why did you decide to focus on illustration full time?

Katie: After university I accidentally fell into advertising, producing some amazing TV ads. It was loads of fun and full on, but I knew something was missing. A few years ago I left my job, picked up a couple of illustration courses at Central St Martins and haven’t stopped drawing.

UO: Talk us through a normal day in the home life of Katie Halil.

Katie: Music, cuddles, eat, draw, yoga, eat, draw a little more, chat, walk, draw, eBay, draw, eat, nap, draw, play, draw, cocktails, cuddles and bed.

UO: How does an illustration come to life?

Katie: Often by luck. Sometimes I have to go away and come back to it. But always with music – it’s like magic.

UO: Do you work through stream of consciousness or do you always have a concept in mind?

Katie: I usually never know where I’m going to end up but that, I think, is the beauty of the process. I tend to go wherever my biro/pencil/ink pen/paintbrush takes me. Although often I’ll get an idea in the middle of the night or when I’m on the loo, they’re normally the best ones.

UO: Do you have a favourite illustration?

Katie: No way, they are like my children… I don’t like them much of the time but I’ve kinda got to love them.

UO: Is your home an extension of your artistic process or separate to it?

Katie: Oh it’s one and the same, it’s a beautiful mess most of the time, I’ve tidied up especially. Sometimes I think it looks like a rainbow has puked in my studio but there’s an art to that.

UO: Do you have a favourite room?

Katie: I defy anyone not to love a pink desk… so it’s my studio obviously.

UO: What do you think no home should be without?

Katie: Love.

UO: What advice would you give to aspiring illustrators?

Katie: If you need it in your life, do it, love it and most importantly believe in you – it’s your dream.

UO: What’s your favourite object & where did you get it?

Katie: A painting of a rainbow. I love them. I had just left my job and escaped to Paris, it was a rainy day at a flea market and this most awesome painting was winking at me, the colours were insane and it came in an irresistible garish gold frame.

UO: You say you’re a bit of a procrastinator, what’s your procrastination method of choice?

Katie: Everything. I have a terrible attention span. Instagram is my procrastination playground, I at least try to be productive with it @whatkatiedrew.

Finish this thought:

If I were a colour I’d be… yellow.

If I weren’t illustrating, I’d be…teaching maybe.

My ideal breakfast…Turkish baked eggs with a nice green juice.

The one thing I can do working from home that I couldn’t do in an office is…work in my PJ’s on my sofa in front of the TV.,

Working from home I’m most distracted by…my cats.

I’m currently listening to…right now? Ok. Spin Doctors: ‘Cleopatra’s Cat’.

My ideal Sunday is…sunshine and a roast with my favourites.

I’m most inspired by…my mum. She is the kindest, most creative and most graceful person i know.

My biggest release is…Kundalini yoga.