Katie Ponder graduated from Falmouth University and was one of my favourite new illustrators discovered at New Designers this year. She was the winner of the 2014 AOI book category award and took part in the recent exhibition at Somerset House. The Weather Witches was inspired by the change of seasons, and the design of tarot cards. In this image the tempestarii (who control the weather) exchange summer for winter, as the leaves fall and the starry nights draw in.
Rite of Spring, Growth.
Your illustration was inspired by ideas you first discovered in childhood… can you remember how you came across them and what effect they had on you then?
Whilst considering the theme of That Which We Do Not Understand, the seasons changed from summer to a very sudden winter. Dramatic changes in the weather always bring to mind a song I learnt at primary school about a weather witch, when she was happy she would make the sun shine, but when she was angry there would be thunder and lightening. There is a lot of folklore about witches some times referred to as tempestarii, who control the weather. Inspired by this, I imagined the seasons personified by two witches, who are sisters. The changing of the seasons happens when one sister passes her reign onto the other sister, so that she may rule for her share of time. My image is about autumn, when the sisters exchange places and the weather changes from summer to winter, the leaves fall off the trees and dark starry nights draw in. I am interested in how changes in seasons and the lunar cycle impact the world and also our physical and mental wellbeing.
Titania & Bottom
What in particular appeals to you about Tarot?
I read my own tarot cards on a regular basis, and collect different packs. I find it intriguing me how a picture can reflect some kind of personal truth, and can inspire different ways of thinking about a situation. I also love the symbolism within tarot cards; in particular I love the Rider Waite deck, which has very bold graphic colors, and mysterious symbolic landscapes and scenarios.
How did you put together The Weather Witches?
To create my image The Weather Witches, I started of collaging using old papers, self made textures and found images. I then scanned the collage into Photoshop and played around with the composition until I felt there was an aesthetic balance. I added new textures and tweaked the colors and contrasts to create the final image.
Rite of Spring, Arrival.
What was the most challenging part of the process and what was the most satisfying?
I found it a very enjoyable project to work in response to ‘that which we do not understand’ as mysticism and the occult fascinate me and have inspired a lot of my work. Composition is really important to me, and I really like an image to feel balanced. The idea of portraying two sister witches allowed for me to make a fairly symmetrical image, which I find very satisfying to work with.
Falmouth University consistently turns out top illustrators, why do you think that is?
The illustration course at Falmouth is well known, the tutors are available to talk to all the time and they are absolutely amazing, and very inspiring, I miss them so much! All the people I studied alongside were very ambitious and had lots of drive, which created a very motivating atmosphere in the studio. I also think what makes Falmouth a really good course is how they prepare you for industry. As part of the course we had to arrange meetings with leading professionals in the industry to have our portfolios reviewed. Knowing that the best art directors and agencies are going to look through your portfolio pushes you to work at the highest standard you can. Also attending these meetings teaches you how to handle and be confident in intimidating professional scenarios.
Words have wings.
You only recently graduated this summer, what has happened since then?
I was very lucky to be awarded the new talent award for books by the Association of Illustrators as I finished university. Over October my work was exhibited at Somerset House in London, which was a wonderful experience, and now my work is on a touring exhibition at different venues around the UK. Since graduating, I have moved back to central London where I am originally from and I have been really enjoying being back in the city, seeing lots of art and ballet. I have set up a small studio to work from, and I have been working on commissions as well as meeting people to talk about projects to work on in the future.
Women Who Run With The Wolves.
What are you currently working on?
I am working on a couple of ideas in between commissions. The project closest to my heart is some work that has been inspired by ballet and classical music, and is the catalyst behind a book I am developing at the moment.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
What are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
In December I am taking part in a stop motion animation course, which I am very excited about. I did a project in 3D whilst I was at university and I am eager to see how that might translate into stop motion animation. I am also pursuing my other long-standing passion next year and training to be a yoga teacher, which I plan to have as a companion job alongside being an illustrator. There is also some travelling I really want to do that I am currently working towards and dreaming about.
#TWWDNU, Association of Illustrators, Falmouth College of Art, Falmouth University, illustration, illustrator, interview, Katie Ponder, New Designers, Rider Waite, Somerset House, Tarot, tempestarii, That Which We Do Not Understand, The Weather Witches, Weather Witch
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