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Q&A with Kellie Black

Freelance designer from England | Multidisciplinary design company Pearl Grey

My name is Kellie Black and I run Pearl Grey illustration and design, a multidisciplinary design company.

What inspired you to become a designer? 

It sounds cliched, but I have been creative from a young age and was blessed to be supported in the development of this by a creative family. When I was in my early twenties, I decided to start a business that would enable me to do what I loved for a living, and I am very fortunate that this has continued to grow.

What design software (or tools) do you use? 

Every illustration you see has been initially created by hand with pens and pencils. Depending on the project, I use a mix of Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator to work things up, and for other design work I use a lot of InDesign. I also hand craft props for things, so for this I use Super Sculpey, Milliput, a glue gun, UHU glue and a whole plethora of found objects and materials.

What is your ideal work environment? 

Somewhere with a lot of light, where I can feel relaxed and happy. I prefer to have music on and I need all of my tools around me. I tend to work around 'organised chaos', so anyone else coming into my studio may think it would be hard to find things, but I know where everything is! Ideally I have easy access to a kettle, too, as I drink a lot of Tea while I work!

Where does your design inspiration come from?

I enjoy reading Computer Arts magazine as I always find that interesting, but I find inspiration in the strangest places sometimes. It really does depend on the project as to which direction my brain starts going in, but for self directed illustrative work my inspiration tends to come from real life. There's nothing I love more than whiling away an afternoon people watching! I reference a lot of people in my own life (people are fast becoming used to being asked to pose for me, too). For design work, I like to look back at old fashioned design and type from different countries, as there is a wonderfully rich range of styles.

Who is the person you admire most? 

This is a really difficult question! I'm always in awe of people who can create something wonderful from nothing, so anyone who has built up a life for themselves and found personal success and happiness (however they define that) is deserving of admiration. In my own life I really admire two very strong women; my mother and my grandmother, who are both very creative and vibrant people that have had a profound effect on my life and my career. Professionally, I really admire the work of Paul Kidby, who is partially responsible for my taking up illustration in a serious way.