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Meet: Artist, Kate Pugsley

We absolutely love Kate Pugsley’s work and are so excited to partner with her for our first collection.  Kate is an illustrator and painter based in Chicago.  Her artwork has a clean and modern aesthetic but always remains playful and fresh.  Kate created two exclusive designs for Les Gamins – hope you love them as much as we do!  

We interviewed Kate to learn more about her creative process and advice on how to introduce art to kids. 

What does a typical work day look like for you? Do you keep a strict schedule?

I start my day with a nice homemade coffee and a big breakfast. I don’t keep a strict schedule, but I usually start working by 9:30 in my home studio and try to keep focus for 3-4 hours before taking a break. The afternoon is some combination of exercise, sketching and painting, talking to clients, or running errands. I take a break for dinner and a walk with my husband and then often pack orders or work on illustrations for an hour or two before bed. 

artist Kate Pugsley at her desk
How long have you been creating this particular aesthetic? Do you do any other forms of arts?

I used mostly oil paint when I was in school and beginning my career. I switched to gouache and watercolor about six years ago in order to move from fine art to illustration. I recently took my first ceramics class and have some lumpy bowls to show for it!

Is there a difference between creating art for children and creating art for adults?

I personally don’t think there’s a big difference in creating the work, but the industries usually ask for different things. The children’s world typically wants very cute and colorful illustrations.

 kids holding hand under the rain

Where do you draw the most inspiration from? How do you conquer bouts of feeling uninspired?

I generate a lot of inspiration from keeping a sketchbook. I record my thoughts and ideas in a sketchbook through notes, lists, drawings and small paintings—otherwise, I'll forget them. When I'm feeling uninspired, I flip through my sketchbooks to remember my ideas and build on them.

Did you ever have to work odd jobs while pursuing your art?

Yes, I've worked as a nanny, as a graphic designer, and in retail. The nanny job was the best of the three.

What is your favorite adage or piece of advice about the artist's life?

I relate to Chuck Close's advice to "not wait around for inspiration."

Kids playing in the street in front of houses

When did you know you wanted to be an artist? What did you want to be as a child, if not an artist?

I’ve known I wanted to be an artist since I was a child. Drawing was my favorite thing to do, and I was lucky enough to be able to pursue it. One of my best memories of making art as a kid is writing and illustrating a series of books that were bound with cardboard, fabric and rubber cement by parent volunteers at the “drop-in writing center” in my elementary school.

Any advice on how to introduce art to kids?

I think it’s easy to introduce art to kids because they haven’t yet learned to be inhibited; they’ll draw anything without being critical, and they’re honest about what they like and don’t like. It’s really refreshing to make or look at art with kids. My advice is to just get started! 

little people walking around

Any advice to burgeoning illustrators?

Experiment as much as you can with materials and projects. Make sure it’s what you really want to do, and then commit yourself fully because you pretty much have to spend ten hours a day alone drawing (it is great, but can be lonely). Don't share your work too much online before you're ready; if you do, your bad drawings will stick around and haunt you. Be a good listener, and stay curious.

cheetah in jungle

What are your plans for the future?

I’d like to create a collection of illustrated books for children and adults. I hope to be lucky enough to have a lasting career doing what I love.

behind the scenes

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