Nate Kitch is an award-winning illustrator and designer from the UK represented by Eastwing. His work is a great conglomeration of hand-drawn and digital geometric shapes and patterns, collage, typography and photography. Looking to the world around him for inspiration, the pieces he creates feature a wide range of themes and motifs, from global politics to science, ethics and nature. We wanted to know more about his projects and processes as an illustrator and image-maker so caught up with him to ask him all about it…
Did you always want to be an illustrator and designer?
I’ve always been creative but it wasn’t until I studied for my foundation diploma that I really began to rejuvenate my passion for creativity. I threw myself into the course, opening myself up to any guidance or way of working that the teaching staff offered me and it enabled me to truly explore how I worked. It wasn’t until the very end of the course that I had settled in the direction of illustration, even though I was very close to pursuing a BA in Fine Art.
Where do you source the images that you use?
I use lots of old family photos and I’m always on the look out for patterns and textures, whatever catches my eye really. Sometimes it could be the pose of a figure that really draws my attention but other times it’s something less obvious, like shape in the background of an image that really draws me in and inspires me to create something with the photograph.
How did you arrive at your definitive style?
Through trial and error. I critiqued the images I was making and identified their strengths and weaknesses, building the bits that worked and taking out those that didn’t. I spend so much of my time image-making on photoshop and in that time i’m often making lots of weird and wonderful mistakes; those are the things I capitalise on. I think it’s important to always be developing what you do. Never stray away from your true style, but never be afraid to try something new.
Tell us about your creative process…
I use photoshop heavily but also physical collage to try and get a nice balance between artificial and digital; I like to try and create a raw feeling to my illustrations because the majority of the process is digital and I don’t want the resulting image to appear too clinical or pure. To achieve this I often create with a hands on approach then scan or photograph these aspects into Photoshop whilst maintaining their calibre as best I can.
How important is storytelling in the work that you produce?
I feel it is always important to have some sort of narrative attached to your image, it gives another level for the viewer to engage with, and overall it makes your images so much stronger. Of course, I will often create personal work that has no clear direction and will be working by instinct, but there are times when I look back at what I have achieved in these ‘meaningless’ images and there’s a connection between them; a story that I have told without any intention of doing so. That interests me a lot.
What or who are your most significant influences?
I’m interested in geometry and modernism, sharp lines and tidy shapes really appeal to me and this often transfers into my work. I like there to be some sort of order or structure to compliment the wildness that can sometimes occur. I’m also a big fan of free jazz because it has no lyrics and is free moving and open to interpretation. I like to think my work can be viewed in a similar way. Jazz players would meet up and just jam out these awesome tunes. The noise is all structured into the form of a song with a start and end, but where that song goes in-between, that is a journey; I feel that hopefully I achieve a similar process within my Illustrations.
How do you find the experience of working as a freelance creative?
I find it really enjoyable and that’s great because I’m working all the time. Even when i’m socialising im thinking of my next moves, picking up emails or trying to crack the concept of a brief that’s on the go. It can be tough when you have days working on your own and sometimes I miss that studio environment of university, but if you balance it well by spending time with great people and working in public places you it never feels so bad.
I recently did three images for New Scientist magazine, which was such a buzz because they are a client I had always wanted to work for and the subject matter was right up my street. The development of the images seemed to flow really well and they were a pleasure to work with; hopefully I can look forward to collaborating with them again.
What’s next for you?
I have just won an AOI (Association of Illustrators) award for Self-Initated category so I’m still so chuffed and honoured about that. I’m really looking forward to seeing mine and the other winners work Exhibited in Somerset House in October and seeing my images published in the annual. I’ve also got a project on the horizon which is just starting to take form and that could blossom in to quite a prospect, so it’s an exciting second half of the year for me. Watch this space.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth