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Katie Ponder: Theatrical Collage Illustration

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Katie Ponder's artwork was brought to our attention earlier this year and we knew straight away it would look great on these here pages.

Katie studied illustration before jumping into the world of freelancing. She takes inspiration from theatrical stage design to create pieces which feel choreographed, almost animated. With big plans afoot for 2017 and 2018, her work will hopefully be more visible to many more people in the near future. Katie told me about her inspirations and how she does it.

How did you get started as an artist?

I have always loved art and was encouraged and supported by my parents and some great teachers to go to art school. After having done a foundation year at Camberwell, where I became interested in illustration, I went on to do an illustration degree at Falmouth. On graduating I was winner of an AOI [Association of Illustrators] award for new talent and continued to explore and develop my style and slowly started to make a career as an illustrator. This year I was winner of The House of Illustration People's Choice Award, runner-up to The Folio Society Prize and most recently shortlisted for the Glyndebourne Art Competition.

Do you find yourself planning out a piece in your head as you collect source material?

My ideas come from being inspired by completely random things. Often window displays and stage sets trigger ideas. I make lots of thumbnails exploring how to work an image into reality before I then draft the image up, sometimes as a hand-done collage which I scan then develop digitally. Other times I work digitally straight away.

I am always on the lookout for old paper or books

I have a bank of scanned textures and found imagery which I have collected over the years which I then apply digitally to the work to create a multi-layered and textured collage. I am always on the lookout for old paper or books. I was just in Stockholm and had some time to buy some old books and prints of flowers and machinery to add to my collection.

How does creating something to complement another piece of art - for example, a book cover - affect how you approach the piece?

I really enjoy immersing myself in the subject my artwork is illustrating. During my degree work I created illustrations inspired by The Rite of Spring, a terrifying ballet composed and directed by Stravinsky. I listened to the music non-stop and watched lots of clips from different ballet productions to help me develop illustrations to complement the music.

When working with literature I always read the book to understand and engage in the author's world, so that my artwork reflects the story the reader is about to become immersed in.

In the past you've dipped your toe into animation and 3D set design. Are these things you would like to do more of?

I would love to. I did a short course a few years ago in stop-motion animation which was so much fun. Making sets would also be an exciting venture for my work. I really enjoy going to the theatre and the opera and part of my enjoyment comes from seeing how the actors are placed and choreographed within a set to create a visual for the audience and reflect the tone of the story.

What have you got in the pipeline?

It's been a really lovely year this year. I have just signed with an agency, The Artworks Inc, and I am really excited to see where that leads. I also have a string of nice projects leading up to the end of the year, including some work with Glyndebourne Opera and illustrating the Queen of Diamonds for a pack of cards which will be auctioned and exhibited to raise money for TLC (Transplant Links), alongside a line-up of really exciting artists, such as Dan Hillier and Grayson Perry.

I am also slowly putting together a series of abstract artworks, which has been an ongoing project that I hope to exhibit in spring next year.

Sam Walby

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