There are times in life when you come across an artist that literally blows you away. Well, that’s what happened to me when I discovered Kitty Finegan.
Brighton based Kitty produces art that is timeless, infused with colour and with “a dusting of razzle dazzle”. Kitty has also teamed up with Helen Rochfort to create a fabulous range of handbags which have been featured on ITV’s This Morning programme.
WIN a fabulous Kitty Finegan Limited Edition ‘Muddy Water’ print below
( Details of how to enter at the end )
Did you always want to be an artist?
I think I’ve probably been an Artist most of my life really, I was blessed with an artistic ability at a very early age, and am very fortunate to have an amazing Mother who encouraged every talent my brother and I had as children. (she still does now we are in our 40’s)
For most of my childhood, our home surroundings contradicted the physical setting in which we lived. Our Dad used to run Working Men’s Clubs, (like tv’s ‘Phoenix Nights’) often situated in rough and ready areas in the North East of England. We lived in accommodation above the Clubs and used to relocate every 3-5 years to a new town. Our homes were always filled with beautiful artwork, books and antiques and we were very fortunate to have the financial wealth that allowed us to travel, and realize the world outside of where we actually lived.
Our Mam was a Primary School Teacher, amongst other things, who specialized in Art & Craft. She worked with Gypsy Children and those who had been excluded from school. Many of these children ended up working at our kitchen table, as their own home surroundings were too crowded and busy to allow artistic expression. Her creativity and vision gave lots of children in her care, the ability to use everyday items to make something artistic and visually pleasing. Her beautiful nature gave them the confidence to be proud of what they had created and how it had been achieved.
In retrospect, I now totally believe the concept of Art being a form of escapism, where new worlds can be created to bring joy and happiness to the viewer or participant. I was very happy to live amongst people who were probably escaping their day to day existence by frequenting the Working Men’s Clubs; taking part in fabulous escapism rituals like Bingo, Raffles, Meat Draws and Saturday Night Bands & Performers.
There have been periods of my life when I didn’t really bother much with drawing though. I suppose my artistic leanings have showed themselves in decorating the many places I’ve called home, and the clothes and hairstyles I’ve had over the past few decades.
I’ve only recently started to call myself an Artist. Grace Coddlington, Creative Director at USA Vogue Magazine, says that art and creations become more relevant when you’ve got an audience. After hearing this I am now very proud to call myself an Artist and am very, very grateful to the people who go to see and buy my work.
Who inspired you and why?
Comic Illustrators & Artists from the 1970’s. It should come as no surprise that comics were my first love, particularly The Beano & The Dandy. I used to sit in my bedroom as a child and recreate my favorite comic characters, firstly using pencil, then, adding colour with felt tip pens. I loved the way that colour changed the whole drawing and brought each subject to life. Also, I adored the black lines around each part of the drawing, which I often use today. Comics taught me about injecting personality into drawings and bringing pictures to life using facial expressions, speech bubbles, and motion lines & phrases.
My Cousin Dave Robbo
My cousin Dave to this day remains one of my all time heroes. He is a fantastic Photographer and Musician and Artist. I remember seeing one of his sketchbooks for the first time when I was about 7 years old. It was an explosion of black and white line drawings of monsters with eyes popping out of their heads, robots, faces, all sorts of motion happening on a white piece of paper. It was like seeing a mad action film in simple black & white 2d form. He was in a punk band, who were featured in Smash Hits in the late 70’s in an article about the Teesside Punk Movement. I remember going to his flat in Middlesbrough when I was about 9 years old; where all of the white walls had been decorated with artistic graffiti and mad drawings that covered every inch of the walls and ceilings. I was completely amazed at the visual sight of all the drawings and so very impressed with the rebellion of drawing all over the walls of his home. Dave inspired me to always be individual and bang my own drum.
Syd Brak, South African Illustrator was the Artist who first inspired me to start drawing the female form. He created a range of best-selling posters of highly glamorous women for Athena in the 1980’s. I fell in love with the tiny details of his subjects’ facial features, particularly their eyes and lips, again, a technique I often use in my work today. At this time I was given a book on how to draw faces and used his pictures, and my fab little book, to create pencil drawings, mainly of women’s faces.
Maria Rivans: Brighton Artist and one of my pals, creates an alternative world within each handmade collage she makes. She uses hundreds of vintage style printed papers and cut outs to build up visions of alternative reality where, for example, a landscape city scene has life-sized exotic birds walking next to 1950’s style families, and giant red & white polka dot mushrooms grow alongside tropical flora & fauna. Her work is beautifully hand crafted and technically brilliant. She has found her own style of working and puts so much love and effort into her creations. I love the colour, generosity, humor and darn right quirkiness of her work.
Jordi Labanda: South American Illustrator & Designer is well known for creating cartoon like characters; frequently set in a visual scene of 1950’s & 60’s decadence. He depicts women as highly glamorous and beautiful creatures at any age of their existence. I particularly love the fact that he paints older ladies and celebrates their elegance and glamour, which isn’t always recognized or represented in Contemporary Art. We are both of similar age and share a love of 1970’s Euro-Panache.
On a business level, I’m blessed with inspiration from Jo Malone, a perfumer who took a simple idea and created her own brand, and line of products that are now in the high-end luxury goods market. I love the way she operates and how she has come from humble beginnings to be an award-wining businesswoman who never actually had a business plan. When I have an idea for a new product or range of work, I mentally run some of my ideas past her and imagine what she would say about it all. I find sometimes that I can bombard people with my own ideas and thoughts about projects I am working on. Having a fantasy mentor like Jo Malone allows me to organize my thoughts for when I do present my ideas to people I know; and whose opinion matters to me.
I don’t know Jo personally, but hope to one day.
A constant source of inspiration comes from my brother, Precious Murphy who’s also an Artist. I always ask his opinion on everything I design, whether that is a business card, a fine art print, or a poster for a jumble sale that Our Mam is running at the Retirement Home where she lives. He has really good taste and can always see the vision I have for the design because he knows me so well. He always picks out the prints that become best sellers. His work is totally amazing, inspired by architectural drawings, floor plans, sci-fi movies and a vision of the future.
Talk me through the design and production process…
Once I have a firm idea, for example, the collection of vintage style travel posters I have, I sketch out the design and decide what sort of size the pictures will be. I then take the design into a computer program and decide on a colour scheme. I also use the program to smooth out all of the lines and smarten up the sketch ready for printing. I create 2 types of prints: giclee & silkscreen print. The two methods are very different. Giclee prints are printed in a similar fashion to photographs, in that, they are printed on a large industrial sized machines in a Fine Art & Photography Lab. Silkscreen prints are made by hand and involve printing each colour of the design individually. This method takes much longer and is a very accomplished discipline. This is the main reason for silkscreen prints being more expensive than giclee prints.
If you could live in a certain era, which would you choose?
I’d have to say the early to mid 1960’s. This era produced the music, fashion and design I totally adore. Motown, my favorite music was made and produced in the 60’s and although I’ve been fortunate enough to see some of the Motown Artists in concert, I would have loved to be around to see them in their youth, and at their finest. I love the 60’s look created by the likes of Mary Quant and hairstylist Vidal Sassoon, along with the Italian influences on British fashion in this era.
The 1960’s was also a time of social change, when relaxation of many social taboos relating to sexism & racism occurred. Thankfully we now live in a corner of the world where people can express themselves freely. I’d have liked to have been part of the various movements who helped make these amazing changes.
I adore your Saltdean Lido print, here at home – do you have a personal favourite?
Oohh… that’s a hard question. I pour so much love and devotion to each picture I create, it’s like asking a mother which child is her favorite! There are a couple of significant pictures that I do possibly love a little bit more than the others, but please don’t tell any of my girls or there might be a catfight.
‘Muddy Waters’ was one of the first pictures I ever exhibited. I was very fortunate to be able to show this picture at Glasgow Art Fair in 2005. I sold 25 prints of this design in the 4 days we spent there. This, along with other sales of work, gave me the opportunity to establish myself as an Artist in my second favorite city in the U.K. I thank the good people of Glasgow enormously for their loyalty and support over the past 7 years.
‘Laydown Sally’ has a special place in my heart too. I love her hairstyle, the vintage underwear she wears and her lovely little bum. There have been a couple of people who thought her to be too racy, but she was never created to offend or to make people feel uneasy. I think I love her a little bit more than most because she’s caused a tiny bit of controversy in this way. She could possibly be the little black sheep of the family, who I can’t help but adore.
‘My Lagan Love’ is a portrait of how I think my sister would have looked if she had survived childbirth. My darling Mother lost a child before I was born which was very distressing and caused massive heartbreak, as you can imagine. At this time, counseling and psychiatric help was very limited and the remedy at the time was to just get on with it. It took my mother many years to be able to speak openly about this traumatic experience, so I created ‘My Lagan Love’ to celebrate these emotional chains being broken.
What advice would you offer to an aspiring artist?
I’d say when you’re first starting out, draw, paint or create things you really like yourself. You may find that you keep a lot of your early work, so please don’t throw anything away. Find somewhere to keep your work, whether it is a portfolio, someone’s wall or in fact your own walls. Most Artists are very self critical, which is a good thing because it makes you work harder to achieve near enough perfection. It’s a question of balancing confidence and humility to know when you’ve created something great. Sales and opinions of course will help to establish whether or not something is successful or popular, but learn to recognize great work and pat yourself on the back when you can. Get used to giving at least 50% of the sale price away as soon as you can, as this will be something that happens a lot during your career as an Artist. Galleries usually take 50% commission, and are a great way of selling and showing your work. They have a living to make as well as Artists, so bless the 50% you give them and be very greatfull for your own cut. Galleries can make and break an Artist, so always try and get a good relationship with those who are interested in selling your work. I could go on all day, so lastly, most importantly, do it because you like it, don’t see it as a way of quitting your day job.
What’s in store for you over the rest of 2012?
My brother and I are currently viewing premises to open a Studio Gallery in Brighton this year. It’s in the early stages right now, so we are keeping everything crossed. We will be having solo and joint shows for our Artist mates as well as ourselves. There will be themed months where we show a selection of art, design, ceramics, and homewares that all come together for each theme. These include Steampunk, Burlesque, Diwali: the Indian Festival of Light, and we will be planning something great for the Brighton White Nights Festival. Watch this space.
Thanks to Lucy for giving me this opportunity to rave about myself, my life and my work, very much appreciated. Long Live The Blog, it’s a great way to share information and common interests. ——————————————–
Thanks so much to Kitty for sharing her inspirations, her work absolutely inspires me on a daily basis! Now for the Giveaway and what a generous prize it is !
Please go to my Comments page and tell me why you would like to win this Kitty Finegan Limited Edition ‘Muddy Waters’ print.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
TERMS AND CONDITIONS
I will select and announce the winning entry on Tuesday 3rd April at 2pm.
The prize may not be exchanged and no cash alternative offered.
Only one entry per email address.
No purchase necessary.
Fingers Crossed for ya xx