An Interview With Kate Guy

What do you get if you mix your love of food with your love of graphic design & printing? You get a range of exquisite printed tea towels & tote bags illustrated with the most scrumptious regional recipes, courtesy of print maker Kate Guy. Kate’s work is mostly inspired by her love of food and cooking. Without further ado, let’s meet Kate – Hi Kate!

Hello! My name is Kate Guy, I’m a printmaker who loves to cook. I live and work in London, but I am also very lucky to have one foot in the South of France, spending part of every year there. Both countries, cuisines, arts and cultures have influenced me in my work.

My background is graphic design but over the years I have also worked in animation, film, illustration and for 12 years I was head of Art and Design in a large secondary school in North London. These days I seem to have become a product designer, but my real love is printmaking.

What inspired you to create your range of illustrated tea towels and other homewares based on regional recipes?

My very first design came from a piece I made back in 1994 of fish etched into blue glass. This was my first foray into product design when I had it printed on a tea towel in 2012 (There is a story behind this which is on my 3 Fish Tea Towel). 

My second design and still one of my most popular was a print I made of a friend’s kitchen in the South of France ‘Rebecca’s Cupboard’. What I wanted to do then was somehow combine the two – fish and kitchens… this led me to thinking about illustrating recipes and I had my ‘eureka moment’. I came up with the idea that I could create a whole store cupboard of individual ingredients prints which could be combined into different recipes. I was in France at the time and so this led to my French themed ‘Simple Soups’ range: Soupe de Poisson (Fish Soup), Roasted Tomato Soup and French Onion Soup.

On return to the UK this naturally led into thinking about illustrating some of the classic British dishes such as Lancashire Hot Pot and Yorkshire Steak and Ale Pie.

How do you pick what recipes to feature? Are the recipes personal favourites, customer suggestions, easy to make & draw or a combination of all 3?

Really a combination of all three but a big issue is the ingredients. There must enough of a range to make an interesting design. I have been asked many times why I don’t do, for example, Yorkshire Pudding, but it is only eggs, flour and milk which would not make a very interesting design. I did run a bit short on ingredients for the Bakewell Tart design, but I love it too much not to include so I added a nice cup of tea at the bottom – as you can’t really enjoy one without the other I think!

I am tempted to try the Yorkshire steak & ale pie recipe that you feature …. and the Fish Soup 😊 What do you like to cook? Have you tried a recipe to feature that did not turn out as successful as you hoped? 

I love cooking (and eating!) and have had my fair share of failures and successes. The pie is a favourite and the fish soup was my first illustrated recipe and is the best seller by quite a margin. I think this is maybe to do with the colour rather than the recipe though – it’s a little more complicated than the other soups and really relies on a quality fish stock. The absolute easiest to cook is the roasted tomato soup – as easy as 1,2,3 – chop, roast and blend – yummy and so healthy.

Which tea towel has attracted the most attention so far?

Without a doubt it’s the fish soup, probably for its beautiful deep blue colour, which on the unbleached organic cotton really creates a very vibrant and bold design. I know that quite often people say my tea towels are too good to use and have even had them framed – there is a chateau somewhere in France with my full range of British Recipes framed in the kitchen!

Although you are based in London, are your tea towels available overseas?

Yes, I can ship anywhere in the world 😊 My tea towels have gone as far as Australia, New Zealand, Japan – I used to run a gallery on my old website called ‘Tea Towels on Tour’ where people would send me pictures of my tea towels in exotic locations around the world. I had one of my ‘3 fish’ meeting a panda in Peru, Tomato Soup on the Bolivian Salt Flats, Fish Soup in Greece and a Lancashire Hot Pot in Thailand! (I can send photos if you like)

Having a father who was a graphic designer and a mother, an artist; it is not surprising that you would grow up with such an artistic talent.  Lino cutting at the young age of 6; a degree in graphic design and you have worked as a designer, illustrator, in an animation studio, as an architectural glass designer and as an Art Teacher. Taking all that into account, which “art form” is your favourite? Which type of art do you find the hardest?  Is there any genre of art that you haven’t attempted before but would love to have a go at? 

I think printmaking is my favourite, there is a mystical moment when you’re not sure how the print will turn out and while you try to control it there is always an element of serendipity (happy accident) to the process. 

My father left me a whole load of old wooden type (lettering) blocks which I have added to over the years. I have played around with printing these from time to time but I would love to do more of this – Letterpress printing.

Hardest – ummm, I think it has to be drawing people. I did a lot of life drawing at Art School and even for my A Level art we did 3 hours a week which was unusual and fantastic for improving drawing skills but I still find trying to capture the personality of a person difficult – much easier with carrots and onions!

As well as your illustrated homewares, you also create some stunning house portraits. What inspired you to explore this art avenue?

Two years ago I was lucky enough to have a pop up shop in the gorgeous Primrose Hill area of London. While there I started to make monotype prints of the surrounding streets. One day a lady came in and she looked at a print I had made of a local view and said she loved it but I had missed her house – she lived a couple of doors further down. So I offered to do a print especially for her of her house… I have now done more than 20 of these, mostly for people around the Primrose Hill, Camden area but I work from photos and so could do one of anywhere in the world!

You also run printmaking workshops at your studio. What would I expect if I enrolled on one of your workshops? Do you cater for all abilities?

I mostly teach traditional printmaking techniques – lino cut, monotype, drypoint etching, to small groups of all ages, although I usually say from 8 years up as we use some sharp tools. And all abilities – no experience or drawing skills needed. Often people come with an idea, maybe a photo or design they want to do and I help them translate it into a print. In a 3-hour workshop you will design, draw, cut and print your artwork and come away with 3 or 4 copies of your print, framed if you want! People sometimes will do wedding invitations or Christmas cards as once you have created your printing block you can print as many as you like.

Alternatively, I run weekly sessions during term times – over a 10-week term you can produce a range of prints, explore different techniques or develop one project in depth.

I also run larger group workshops for parties or events, I have a small portable Victorian book press which I can bring to print with. The largest I have done was 24 at the Country Living Fair, Alexandra Palace – everyone made a print in less than an hour, great fun but exhausting!

I also do 1 – 2 -1 sessions for anyone to explore their artistic side.

And GCSE and A Level tutoring in Art and Design, Textiles and Graphic Design.

Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?

I am not really a fastidious dresser – I like to be comfortable and as I spend most of my time in the studio my outfit is usually pretty casual. I love dresses and long cardigans with pockets. Footwear is always comfort first for me – I love boots, I had a fantastic pair of Camper Boots which I wore into the ground and have been unable to find again. In the studio it is often espadrilles (sent by my French cousins this year as I could not go and get them myself) or slippers.

Do you have any favourite shops or online sites?

I love DeSigual clothing for the colours and patterns. I also have a favourite SeaSalt long dress – so comfy

What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?

If I could find a replacement for my beloved but worn out Camper boots, and a new Desigual dress to go with them I would be happy.

Two years ago we went to Vietnam and I had some shirts made in Hoi An, I’d love to go back and get some more – I’ve practically worn them out

Boots or Shoes? 

Boots – For comfort, I like the way they make legs look and they go with everything!

For Pinning Later

Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook etc

Website  https://www.kateguy.co.uk/
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/kate_guy_/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/KateGuyPrints/

Beautiful tea towels, Kate – I love the blue/yellow colourway of the Yorkshire & Ale Steak pie tea towel and the recipe sounds just as good too! Thank you for visiting Boots Shoes & Fashion!

Linda x

All photographs have been published with kind permission of Kate Guy.

© 2020, Linda. All rights reserved.

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