It feels like ages since I’ve done an interview but thankfully the super dope Kate Guthrie aka KMG is here to rectify that with this little peach of a chat. Katie is from my home town of Aberdeen and recently spent some time in Barcelona painting up a storm in the blazing sunshine with her studio partner Emma Chapman.
I can tell you that she’s a lot less PG in real life!
Hi KMG how are you? Tell us a little about yourself…
I’m good thanks. So basically I’m an artist and illustrator based in Scotland. My work time is basically split between painting on walls and working on digital commissions and when I’m not working I’m usually looking for more walls to paint, drawing, printing or up a mountain somewhere looking for some snow.
How did it all start for you? Were you one of those kids always scribbling on notebooks at school?
Yeah pretty much! I’ve always just painted for as long as I can remember and made that my main focus, every decision I’ve made growing up has been with the aim to allow me time to paint or draw.
What was the first ‘spark’ for you to pick up a spray can and hit the streets?
Growing up being in to 90s Hip Hop I was inspired pretty young to get my hands on some cans but I think it wasn’t until I was about 16/17 that I first went out and did some painting around some shady parts of Aberdeen. Back then I just cut out some rough stencils of drawings I did in the bottom of pizza boxes, it was nothing overly complex.
When working on a wall do you have a plan in mind when you start a piece? Or do you like to look at the wall and the surroundings and take inspiration from there?
A little bit of both. In general, I’m quite a reactive person so I don’t like to plan too far in advance and instead respond fairly directly to situations as I have a tendency to over think things if given time to do so. If I know the wall I’ll be painting on, I’ll normally do a couple of quick sketches and colour concepts in advance but generally approach everything with a fairly open mind as every wall has it’s own obstacles and challenges. Because a lot of the stuff I do is commissions, which often need at least a loose plan in advance, I quite like to spend my spare time just turning up at a wall with no plan and just have some fun. Sometimes it works out, other times it’ll be a pile of shite, but that’s part of the fun.
With this in mind what do you find to be the most difficult part of the creative process? I’ve read other artists speak about the fear of the blank page/canvas, do you ever get this?
Yeah I think most artists I know find those first few strokes the scariest! For me it’s the pressure of coming up with stuff. Because I spend a lot of my time working on multiple projects it can sometimes be difficult to push whatever’s in my head out to make sense. Most the time stepping away from the studio to do something else can help clear the brain, but there’s always that lingering fear at the back of my head that I won’t be able to think of anything interesting to paint or draw.
Do you have a favourite city or place to share your art? Is there a dream city or country or wall even that you’d like to visit and leave some of your pieces?
I really want a big wall in my home town of Aberdeen because it’s where I grew up and where, until very recently, street art was really under appreciated with the police coming down really hard on anyone caught painting. I also dream about doing a big piece up in Stromness in Orkney, which also sounds a bit odd, but I have family up there and every time the ferry goes in to port I think about how cool it would be to see a giant gable end pinging out and reflecting in to the sea. Neither are really that exotic, but that’s sort of what excites me about making work in Scotland and fitting it in to our existing landscape. Apart from that Bristol, Manchester and Berlin are also up there on my list. Just spent some time in Barca and it was amazing so looking forward to heading back there too some time!
Do you enjoy collaborating with other artists? Do you feel that collaborating with other artists add’s something totally different to the creative process?
I love collaborating with other artists and do it quite regularly. Personally I feel it really pushes your own personal practise as you can learn from the different ways other creatives approach and execute work. Every time I’ve worked with somebody else I’ve left feeling inspired and energised so I often seek other artists to work on wee projects with alongside my own work.
Something I really enjoy is hearing which artists inspired other artists. Which artists inspired you growing up and who’s work do you really like just now? And is there any artist you would love to work with?
I think the first artists I really remember changing the way I thought about making work were the classics, Matisse, Picasso, Basquiat and Harring. Before this point I had only really been exposed to more traditional figurative painters so when I stumbled across these guys, it really had a profound impact on my perception of art and its possibilities. I also grew up snowboarding & skateboarding so from a young age I was fortunate enough to be exposed to some shit hot illustration which in turn introduced me to graffiti and street art. These days I really like the work of Low Bros, Sickboy, Florence Blanchard, Lucas Beaufort and Phlegm so if I ever got the chance to work with any of them I would be pretty stoked.
Just to speak about something different for a minute, tell us something about yourself that maybe not many people would know!
Ooh that’s a hard one! I’m a pretty open book, sometimes too open as my pals will know, so there’s not much about me that’s hidden. I’ve never been stung by a wasp or a bee. Not very exciting but anything else probably isn’t PG enough to write about haha.
If you could be anyone or anything for a day who or what would you be?
2Thumbs fader is the greatest! Is there anything else you’d like to share with us before you go?
Just some shout outs to Recoat for their continuing support and Painted Doors Aberdeen, Throw Up Gallery & NUART Aberdeen for working hard to bring art to the streets of my hometown. Also have recently started up a studio with a pal in Edinburgh called N_NAME and we’ll be working on a few wall projects too so keep peepers peeled for that.
Awesome! Can’t wait to see the new wall projects!