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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with illustrator Katrine Brosnan

Illustrator Katrine Brosnan is the talent behind the Tricolore album artwork for alternative girlband Haiku Salut, recently profiled on these pages. Here she talks about the process.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Tricolore by Haiku Salut. Design by Katrine Brosnan
Tricolore by Haiku Salut. Design by Katrine Brosnan.

Illustrator Katrine Brosnan first came to my attention as the designer of the wonderful Tricolore album artwork: she then contributed another exclusive illustration for my interview with Haiku Salut, so I decided to find out more about how she collaborated with the band, as well as her work practice, techniques and plans for the future. Read on to be inspired.

hand_watch_booklet by Katrine Brosnan
Hand watch booklet.

What was the best bit about studying at Nottingham Trent University?
I loved working alongside people studying different disciplines; my housemates were graphics and fashion students. My fine art course allowed people to experiment with any medium to create their ideas, the freedom was liberating and there was a lot of crossover with disciplines, which was encouraged.

What have you learnt since you left university?
It really helps to have an art, work, life balance! Specialising can lead to more commercial opportunities but the joy of creating is only realised when you can be free with ideas and the medium you use. I try different techniques to make work and often feel inspired when I learn something new. Three years ago I went back to printmaking attending a few courses at a local print workshop and this really inspired the direction of my work.

Tricolore booklet page by Katrine Brosnan
Tricolore booklet page.

How did you hook up with Haiku Salut?
I’ve actually known Gemma from Haiku Salut since we were wee 16 year olds and I was always incredibly impressed by her amazing musicality. I remember a night when I came to see their uni band the Deirdres and managed to win the best jumper award, what I wouldn’t give for a trophy.

Piano hands tee & tote by Katrine Brosnan
Piano hands tee & tote.

I got properly back in touch when I saw Haiku Salut play in Nottingham a couple of years ago. They were really supportive of my new screen-printed and watercolour illustration work and I ended up making some tees and tote bags with the piano hands design to go alongside their EP. After a trip to the peak district with a visit to an expansive second hand bookshop, a fantastic Sunday roast and a lovely time with their dog Pi, I was asked to work on designs for their new album Tricolore.

What was the brief for the creation of your artwork?
The original brief was very loose to create something a bit detached from reality and using the primary colours associated with the band. They also suggested linking to a song title and I chose Leaf Stricken. I was pleased to achieve final elements which don’t sit realistically together, the leaves are hoovered up by the cloud rather than blown around by the wind.  

Pantoman booklet page by Katrine Brosnan
Pantoman booklet page.

How did the process work with the band members?
We first spoke about it at a gig and then through emails back and forth. I gave them some mock up ideas and developed these from their feedback. We chatted again at another gig about the songs and their direction. They are very creative as is their record label How Does it Feel to Be Loved? so there was lots to input and evolution to get to the final version. Drawings that didn’t make it onto the cover have made it into the online booklet that accompanies the album; like a cheeky panto chap with lampshade headwear and some patterned beetles.

How was the work produced?
The back of the album has a lino cut tree I printed, a bit reminiscent of Japanese woodcuts with far less detail, the leaves are hand drawn, watercoloured and then digitally arranged with a geometric patterned watercolour cloud. I wanted the artwork to be simple and a little bit messy with different elements coming together reflecting the variety of instruments which play alongside each other in the music.

Petite pastries by Katrine Brosnan
Petite pastries.

What else are you working on at the moment?
I started getting into using printmaking and design by working to briefs, which has sometimes meant that the medium and end result lead me. Now I’m taking some time to think about my personal project ideas and where they can take me.

I am working with a couple of artists to get together an unusual residency. We hope this will give us a bit of time and space to make some interesting ideas happen and share it with people in a nice setting probably with lots of tea and cake.

Folks that do coffee
Folks that do coffee.

I like to draw people I see and bring them together into collections. I’ve recently changed my pattern for getting to work and realised that the new people I see will soon become regulars on that little chunk of my morning; the lady with the lovely fair isle hat and rosy cheeks and the man who wears shorts over leggings who crosses the road at 8.11am. This collection of ‘new regulars’ could find themselves coming together as a print or zine like my ‘folks that do coffee’ and ‘homage to catalonians’ prints.

Homage to catalonians by Katrine Brosnan
Homage to catalonians.

I have recently experimented with making screen-printed laser cut jewellery including slug brooches, which people really like or really hate. Useless things and or sad creatures like slugs often become my subjects. I have also used food in quite a bit of my work and breakfast has taken over with my petite pastries jewellery. I am working on a range of screen-printed jewellery in this way and hope this will be ready for public consumption by the summer.

Slug brooch by Katrine Brosnan
Slug brooch.

I am also working on private commissions including some special screen-printed wedding invitations.

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