For the first installment of Show Us Your Space, we took the opportunity to share an afternoon with Kaitlin, aka Firedrake in her studio. She is a freelance graphic designer with a passion for imaginative and wonderful animal forms. We chatted about anatomy, working through the night, and culling portfolios. We also captured the essence of her eclectic and truly inspiring studio space in an exclusive behind the scenes photo shoot.
"People are everywhere, and I don't feel the need to create any more. Animals come in the most unbelievable array of shapes and sizes and colours, and it's fun to create new beasts with added machinery and imagine the world they would inhabit."
Can you share with us the history of your studio, how long have you been here and what’s your favourite part?
I’ve been here about 6 years, which is long enough for it to look much cooler than it does. I’d love it to be bigger (of course!) and have a better view than powerlines and street signs, but aside from that it’s my retreat and I spend many hours a day in here. My favourite part is probably the “Tetris wall” where I stack all the canvases, bits of wood, card, paper and decks for painting. I stack it so it takes up the least amount of space and the layers and geometric shapes look kind of cool sometimes. Ever expanding my collections of gas masks, goggles, animal skulls, vintage tins, old folding rulers, and art books.
"I think a regular cull is a healthy thing! A rule I often apply to my work is: if this piece were the only piece someone saw of mine, therefore the work that defined me as an artist to that person, would I be happy with this and feel it was a good representation? If the answer's no, I don't want to include it."
What’s the most important part of having your own creative space? Do you feel there are any main areas, be it space, or silence, or visual inspiration that have helped you the most?
It’s great to be able to roll out of bed and be in the studio, and if I want to work until 2am I can do it without disturbing anyone. I’m also a stereo Nazi so working in my own space means no one will touch my playlists! It is a bit isolating though and makes it harder to be bothered to leave the house. I’m trying to make an effort to get out and change my environment sometimes because it’s good for your creativity, I’d become a pale Gollum-like creature otherwise.
Can you tell us about your interest in the bio-animal? Even your username Firedrake is the name of the changing fire bird?
I’m not sure exactly. It just seems like the logical combination of a love of sci-fi and a love of the natural world. I’ve always been drawn to animal representations in art, far more than the human form which seems to be 90% of art. People are everywhere, and I don’t feel the need to create any more. Animals come in the most unbelievable array of shapes and sizes and colours, and it’s fun to create new beasts with added machinery and imagine the world they would inhabit. And “Firedrake” because of dragons.
How do you begin your artistic journey and where you feel your roots come from?
I think it all started with sci-fi movies, nature documentaries, cryptozoology books and a Crayola caddy that was my pride and joy. I’ve always sketched and drawn, but it wasn’t until about 6 years ago that I put musical endeavours aside and focused on making art. Thematically I think I paint the same things, they’re just becoming so much more complicated now. At the beginning my backgrounds were quite stark, though over time I’ve added a lot more texture and ink blooms. I’ve also become a lot more obsessive over detail.