When I first discovered Peggy & Kate, I was immediately drawn to its distinctive moody yet feminine use of colour. Kate Cronk, the illustrator and calligrapher behind the brand, lives in South London and has the fantastic ability to take everyday scenes – vases of flowers, buildings, posh dogs in the park – and render them both charming and a little bit kooky. Originally trained in weaving at Central St Martins, she made the interesting transition to building a career in illustration and has a designed a wonderful line of very unique stationery. I am always really curious to gain a glimpse into the lives of other creatives and Kate was lovely enough to answer some of my questions about her own practice! So here goes our virtual sit down:
I read that you originally studied weaving! How did you transition from weaving to working as a professional illustrator?
My woven work was always very illustrative and focused heavily on pattern, I was always trying to tell a story through my fabrics. Had I known that illustration was an option when I was 18 I probably would have chosen to study it instead, but I’m so glad I did weaving, as it taught me so many great things – the importance of subtlety in a colour palette and patience. In the Summer of 2013 I was working in job related to weaving but it wasn’t very creative, I really missed drawing and painting and decided to start my own stationery line which has now lead to me working on commissioned client work too.
I love your use of colour. How would you describe your typical colour palette?
Thank you! I am always drawn to indigo, most of my clothes are indigo too! Recently I have slowly added more colour to my work, I really enjoy finding the subtle colour changes in a plant or landscape, this means my work is quite tonal.
What themes do you most enjoy painting?
Definitely nature, I grew up surrounded by plants and woodland which has always inspired me. Now I live in London, on a really busy road! But I love that I can still find relaxation by painting the natural world in my studio and listening to Gardeners’ Question Time!
What do you love most about your corner of London?
I love the parks and woodland near to my flat in Forest Hill, especially as I don’t have a garden. I also love Brockwell Lido as swimming in cold water brings me inexplicable joy and calmness which I need as I find London rather stressful at times.
What would be your dream commission or project?
My dream project would be to illustrate a children’s book; I have a couple of story ideas that I hope to work on this year!
Where do you hope to be career-wise in five years time?
I hope to be working on illustrating my own books and wholesaling my stationery line across the world.
Why did you decide to work independently, rather than for someone else?
Until last month I was only working on my business in my spare time, the leap to self-employment is very exciting, I’m looking forward to having the extra time to be creative and push my business forward!
If you weren’t a creative, what would you be doing?
To be honest this isn’t really something that I ever considered, perhaps something with animals!
Best career moment so far?
Last Summer I taught calligraphy workshops at The Good Life experience, which is a music, food and craft festival in Wales. I think I taught around 70 people over 2 days, it was an amazing experience to share my passion for calligraphy with that many people!
What is the biggest challenge in maintaining a creative career?
For me it’s self criticism, perhaps it’s because I didn’t study illustration that I often feel like a fraud! I just always have to remind myself that there isn’t a ‘right’ way to be creative.
How do you deal with moments of setback?
I try not to dwell too much, a long walk is always a good idea to help think things over and it will often lead to new creative ideas.
Who is one artist that most inspired you?
This is such a difficult question, but probably Raoul Dufy. I remember first seeing his work when I was about 14 and just being completely amazed by his use of colour and the freedom in his lines that capture a moment perfectly.
Best piece of creative advice you ever received?
Just start! – I’m an over thinker so this is perfect for me, some of my most successful moments have started by me taking a leap before I felt I was ‘ready’.
Top three colours to work in?
Indigo, cobalt and pink.
Favourite Peggy & Kate illustration?
(Lady carrying luggage, below) was one of the first things I did, so it will always have a special place in my heart.
Illustrate people or places?
I prefer to illustrate places.
“You just need to look at a primrose and it puts everything into perspective.” Geoffrey Smith.
What do you like to listen to when working?
Podcasts… My Favourite Murder, Gardeners’ Question Time and The Adam Buxton Podcast are my favourites.
If you were having dinner with three artists, who would they be?
Carson Ellis, my Grandfather, and Barbara Hepworth.