Kate Pullen is an Australian letterer and illustrator who's inspired by the inner workings of the human mind. She incorporates colour, pattern, nature and pop culture into her work, and seeks to recreate emotions she feels in her art.
Tell us a bit about yourself...
Heya! I’m Kate, or KP. I grew up on the Mornington Peninsula and am lucky enough to continue living by the beach. I studied graphic design and have slowly built my freelance business specialising in hand lettering and, more recently, illustration with just the tiniest hint of animation. I often work digitally, mainly drawing directly on to my iPad, but I also love jumping away from the screen and painting with a brush. It’s lovely to have this combination of analogue and digital, it keeps things super interesting!
What inspired this tutorial and activity you have created?
Sometimes there can be nothing scarier than staring at a blank page, unsure of what to do next, and so I wanted to build an activity that gave people the opportunity to be creative without it being too daunting. Added into the mix was mindfulness, and the opportunity to pause and acknowledge some wonderful parts of you. This is not something I often take the time to do and so I thought if I baked it into an activity, we could all enjoy a little ‘hey, you’re quite ace’ moment. Plus it enabled me to indulge in multiple baking puns.
Were you always a creative person?
I don’t think I realised this at the time but looking back, yes! It might not have always been drawing, but music, dance, reading, and writing were all thrown into the mix, too. Not that these things are clear binaries, but my brain does tend to gravitate more towards the arts over maths or science.
How familiar are you with mindfulness?
As I’ve gained more understanding around how my brain works I’ve also learnt the power of mindfulness, and its importance when dealing with certain mental health issues like anxiety. For me, mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment, not ruminating on the past or anticipating the future. It sounds so simple when written down like that, but boy it’s tough to do! I try to practice it when my brain is being kind to me so that it’s easier to access when things get tough.
Describe your creative process
It usually goes like this—a brainstorm/word vomit/scribble, followed by super loose sketches, more often than not on my iPad. Then I spend time refining those sketches and maybe bringing in a little colour, so I can really start to see how the final product might look (and if it’s going to work). Once I’ve reached a spot I’m happy with I’ll either tighten up the final design on the iPad, or bring it across to another program like Adobe Illustrator. What program I use is pretty much dependent on what the final output needs to do. If I’ve got the time, it’s also really nice (and helpful!) to have breaks throughout this process. For me, it helps the idea marinate and gives me the space to see what’s working and what might need to change.
How do you get in flow (aka in the zone)? What does it feel like?
When I think about a kind of flow state, for me it would usually involve drawing or painting whilst listening to something, whether that be music, a podcast, or an audiobook. I think it’s usually a time when my mind is quiet; the self-doubt that is so often present has lessened, and there’s a real sense of calm and enjoyment about what you’re creating.
I know people might say this a lot but time really does manage to disappear without you noticing when you're in flow, it’s a beautiful place to be.
What inspires you and your art?
Colour, pattern, nature, pop culture, trying to make sense of how our brains work and what makes ‘em tick.
What are some ways you connect with what inspires you?
I really love hearing people’s stories. I love books and history, movies and biographies. I can get lost in podcasts and audiobooks, fascinated by how someone got to where they are today, and how past decisions or events impact us in the present.
I think all of this then feeds into my work, whether it might be a phrase that really resonated, or trying to recreate an emotion I felt watching or listening to something. It’s then even more exciting when you realise others have had similar experiences and you share it in together.
How do you think people can start to use creativity to support their mind?
It’s another way to express ourselves, when perhaps saying how we feel is difficult. It is also an opportunity for pure, enjoyable play, and that’s not something we often allow ourselves as adults. Finally, it encourages us to perhaps view the world slightly differently, encouraging lateral thought and maybe introducing new thoughts/feelings/views/opportunities that we hadn’t otherwise experienced.
Support your mind with creativity and find more activities on our website. Don't forget to share and tag us! #SMILINGMINDCREATES