Monday, 27 June 2016

INTERVIEW: Kitty Moss on art, inspiration and not being too hard on yourself

Kitty Moss very much proves the old adage that you shouldn't meet your heroes can sometimes be utterly incorrect.

An Irish illustrator and designer extraordinaire, owner of one famous pooch (veritable star of Kodaline's music videos for “All I Want I” and “II”, which were directed by her husband) and all-around great human being, she is one of those effortlessly cool people that are made more charming by how genuine and self-effacing they are. Humble is a good word for Kitty though her background is anything but. She has studied and worked in both fashion and art, attended NCAD (Ireland's leading university of art and design), worked with John Rocha, has had her own (spooky and wonderful) clothing line and has worked on illustration projects for Dublin's most important retailers and publications.

I first became aware of her work through an exhibition in Irish luxury retailer Brown Thomas called“Art and Style”, which brought the designer garments on sale together with artwork by Irish artists. Her self-described as “spookily sweet” drawings, though modest in scale and less flashy than some of the other work on display, immediately caught my attention. I was dying to know more about her and we first met a year ago when I requested an interview for my blog. When we eventually coordinated our schedules, I ended up chatting to her while sitting on her couch, sipping prosecco and eating homemade cake. We clicked immediately and chatting to her this time around was more of a catch-up than a formal interview.

Since then, Kitty has undergone some major life changes; she got married and moved to L.A. with her now husband, Stevie, and dog, Digby. “We moved here last May and it's been great. We love it. We miss everyone but it's pretty sweet to just live in each others pockets and be creative every day. We have the little fellow too so it's all very idyllic at times, but spooky as hell other times. I've concentrated on just illustrating since we've been here and I'm half way through a kids book. That's going really well and I have also had the pleasure of working on oodles of wedding invitations, which has kept me busy, but really I would prefer to just work on personal projects like the book.”

News of a Kitty Moss book had me fan-girling and I wondered if she could share any details about it. She laughed at my cautious inquiry. “Nothing's hush-hush!...It sounds silly but it's called The Oinking Horse and it's about a little horse that doesn't fit in and needs to find his place in the world. I'm mulling over a new one too, about a girl with a ghost in her heart...I want to do something spooky next - I miss the spook - but feel the need to do something slightly more commercial first. The plan is to get it published this year, so I've to do a few more pictures then I'll send it out [to publishers].”

Discussion of the necessities of being more commercial sometimes, lead us onto the topic of when your passion becomes your job and how it changes your relationship with the craft, which Kitty acknowledges is inevitable but is “a good thing in a way as, apart from the obvious joys of being paid, it makes you realise more and more what you want to do in life” and doing it all day, every day “will make you even more brilliant”. In fact, she's very good at being wise and giving great, soothing advice for young creatives. She notes that it all “takes time” and not to worry about age or having it figured out – something I needed to hear!

Of course, you can't be a creative without talking influences and inspiration. Her favourite artists include Hughie O'Donoghue - especially his bog images - Van Gogh, Bacon and Harry Clarke and she is, of course, also partial to Rocha, particularly his accessories and hats, show pieces, the styling of the shows and his textiles which she says, "send me swooning". A more obscure influence that she notes, however, are Japanese-inspired willow plates that were in her family home growing up. “When I was younger, I used to get lost in them. I loved the little bridges and the hats. I think they may be the first thing that inspired me.” When I note that her work seems to mesh well with a traditional Japanese art aesthetic, Kitty replies that others have said the same thing but that she doesn't see it herself. We agree that influence and perception are magic things that are formed over a lifetime of experiences and memories, making us who we are and every outlook so unique and different. It is, indeed, a beautiful thing. Kitty's words are more poetic than mine. “I love how everything weaves its way in without you noticing. Like a dream. I still feel those willow plates working their magic.”

An example of Kitty's pretty, witty and spooky work

Some of Kitty's design work

Digby himself


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