In conversation with Kelly Thompson

Apr 02, 2024 | Collaborations

Renowned artist and illustrator Kelly Thompson sheds light on the creative process behind her latest collaboration with BLUNT, offering insights into the inspiration, evolution of style, and enduring partnership that culminated in this stunning canopy design.
Can you tell us the design process behind this beautiful canopy?

When I started working on my second brolly for BLUNT, I was having a moment of joy in my garden seeing my echinacea plant delivering so many stunning flowers, they quickly became the first thing I wanted to draw. I also had an image collection of plants that I admired purely for their aesthetics, so I knew I had to get them in there somewhere. 

Initially, I had been considering using blue and green tones, this was where the first colour draft started, but it just never quite felt right. I kept thinking about how much everyone wanted my past pink one after it sold out, so I decided to move back to warm tones and this instantly felt better. 

I would say this design certainly pulls from my first design, but with a slightly more autumnal palette twist. The green one will have to come later!

How did you discover your artistic style, and how has it evolved over time?

A lot of people ask me this, and I always say your style turns up when you're not trying to find it. You can't be like "what's my style, it's going to be this", your style is something that emerges over time, through trial, error and practice. One day you look at your body of work and it all ties together because it's all yours. 

“The key is to stop trying to mimic anyone else. As soon as you do, your unique visual voice starts to emerge.”

Quote by|Kelly Thompson

When I first started, I tried to mimic the styles of other artists, but I soon realised that that only ever resulted in me being a weak version of them.

Once I started drawing without other artist imagery in front of me, that's when I really started to figure things out for myself. I used to very consciously consider the weight of my lines and the kinds of strokes that I was making, but now that isn't even a thought, and thanks to practice, I do it without thinking.

What does your typical day look like when you are creating?

On a day that I'm sketching I'd say it's a reasonably simple day. I always start with a dog walk - mainly so I at least see some daylight - as a drawing day can be fully immersive!

After breakfast I usually spend an hour chipping through the inbox, but after that it's computer closed and on to the tools. I like to draw while listening to a podcast, it's so meditative. I try to avoid technology distractions during this time as it's important to get into the flow and be fully focused.

Drawing can be harder on the body than you would expect, so I make sure I have a little stretch when I stop for lunch and if it's sunny I go outside and stand on the grass and move around for a bit. Then I'll check the inbox again briefly, but with a time limit so the day doesn't get away on me. Then back to drawing. 

My back starts to get pretty sore by 4pm-ish and that's when I start to lose focus and get distracted, so I would usually go and exercise at this time. I find that stopping for an hour to exercise and then returning for one or two hours of admin has me completely re-energised and productive again. 

I aim to finish work by 6.30/7pm and have notifications silenced on my phone so that I can actually be in the world properly. Dinner is around 8pm and then I go to bed around 10.30pm to start again the next day.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I get a lot of inspiration from my own garden, while out on walks and generally out in the world. 

I don't necessarily get inspired by specific things, other than thinking "wow I love that", but I find inspiration comes when I take breaks and have holidays or just get away from my usual scenery. When I take time out, I always get extremely motivated and ideas flow.

Tell us about your relationship with BLUNT

BLUNT is one of my top clients to work with, if not number 1! This is the second design I've done for them with a third still in the bank for later. I have also done various projects across social media for them too. 

BLUNT is exactly the kind of client you want as an artist. They come to you for your style and genuinely respect your ideas, individual skills and opinions. Often, as a commercial illustrator, all you are is a cog in the wheel doing what you're told, often not even your own style, so they are a dream really.

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