Katherine Soutar is an artist who has been well known in Pagan circles for some time, for her gorgeous unicorns and dancing cats. She has recently created an extraordinary set of covers for a county by county series of books on the folktales of the British Isles.
Katherine Soutar’s work for the History press is a unique collaboration between illustrator, storytellers and publisher. She reads the entire manuscript of each folk tales book and crafts the perfect cover image based on its content and her own extensive research.
She has supplied the cover artwork for every title in the Folktales series, now at over 70 books and still counting, she is also responsible for the covers for the newly commissioned Ghost tales series.
Katherine Soutar (Caddick) lives in Shropshire with husband Bill Caddick who is a songwriter and musician and son Tam, an aspiring writer. She is a member of the Association of Illustrators and has been working in collaboration with storytellers and musicians turning their words into images for many years.
She also works in an academy school part time, introducing students to warm glass techniques, animation, illustration and printing
‘Transforming words into pictures is what I love to do most’
Katherine said, “I have recently started to think about some of the universal stories that appear in many different cultures across the globe and ways that I could explore the connections between us that we so often miss whilst we are focusing on our differences, I would like to produce some work that expresses this and see this as a project I could perhaps work with international storytellers on. Watch this space.”
I have been working as a self-employed artist for the last thirty years in many different media. I am not ‘formally’ trained, but have drawn and painted for as far back as I can remember, starting as a child, keenly sketching birds, animals, flowers and insects… My father was passionate on nature and instilled in me that same lifelong love of the natural world from an early age. However, having been brought up on a 1970s estate, I also longed to grow up, leave home and find somewhere in the contemplative quiet of the countryside in which to live and work.
And so my travels began…leading quite a gypsy life, moving many times but always finding each place had something new and inspiring to offer, an excitement I was keen to pass down to the younger members of the family.
But that’s not to say that it’s all been idyllic! Working as an artist has its ups and downs, mostly the making-ends-meet part, the main, familiar problem for most self-employed creative folk! However, for me, the ‘ups’ easily outweigh the ‘downs’. Most importantly, you’re more or less continual master of your own destiny – who knows what amazing project or idea is just around the corner?
Then there’s the ‘motivation’ question I’m often asked – where do I get if from? I always reply bills are a pretty-good motivator – and that there are never enough hours in the day!
At present I am illustrating the Matlock the Hare trilogy of books with my husband Phil, a writer. It’s been a four-year project of blind faith and dedication, only made possible with the support and loyalty of our many ‘Saztaculous Matlock folk’ who keep us going by buying the artwork, supporting our kickstarter projects and providing endless valuable enthusiasm and encouragement. The books feature a green-robed majickal-hare who lives high in the Derbyshire Peaks, and have been a joy to illustrate, as I can create the images totally from my imagination – always fun! Phil and I work well together, neither of us getting in the way of the other, as we have own roles within it. Besides, I’m dyslexic, and he can barely hold a paintbrush without breaking it, so it’s probably better we stick to our own skills!
With two feature-length novels in the trilogy already published, and the third and final instalment due out in October this year, it will soon will be time to put down the brush and go out blinking into the light with our ‘baby’ and say to the world, “Hey! Look what we’ve done. Now you can all share this too!” As an artist this is always the hardest part, as we’re almost always happiest creating, not promoting, and this awkward transitional time leaves you wanting to pid-pad in the other direction entirely. However, it’s a vitally important part of the process and putting on a coat of creative armour to face any critics and naysayers is a given. However, at the end of the even’up you can always go to bed knowing that, if nothing else, your brush and pen are already waiting for you to take them up again all too soon!
Who knows what’s next? That’s always the most exciting part!
Hi all, just a quick plug – featured artist Tom Brown has a new blog. It’s early days yet BUT there’s a very neat subscribe feature, so if you want to keep track of Tom’s latest art, this is a good way of doing so.
As for why it’s the Moth Festival – this would be entirely due to skype. I have no idea what I actually said, but it was something else. Tom miss-heard it was Moth Festival and the whole thing went from there. The blog also features a thing I scribbled, a contemplation of what a Moth Festival might be.
I’ve been working with artist Tom Brown for some years now. I knew he had pagan leanings, but until we sat down to do this interview, I didn’t appreciate just how deeply that runs for him. Tom is a comics artist, he does book covers, tattoo designs and other such comissions. He also writes with much poetry in his style, and strange humour. After much deliberation, I did not include the bit of the interview where he accidentally invented an artist – the great medieaval Norwegian Yikes…. it was a rather rambling digression (although much fun). When I asked about favourite artists, Tom said ‘Yikes’ and I couldn’t resist going ‘haven’t heard of him’ and it all went a bit off the rails for a while.
Bryn: When did you realise art was something you were serious about?
Tom: Oh… gods. Very nearly as far back as I can remember.
Bryn: So you’ve always drawn?
Tom: Also as far back as I can remember. Yes. (Lions a lot at first, as I recall)
Bryn: Why lions?
Tom: No idea! They caught my imagination I suppose. No real reason why I should have been drawing lions at all! Then, some interesting attempts at drawing from dreams.
Bryn: What is your favourite thing to draw at the moment?
Tom: Oh…! Ok difficult one…. figures from shared dreams, and landscape. Preferably at the same time, though I’m having some new ideas as of very recently. Tentacles are a given!
Bryn: That’s the second mention of dreams. Those are important then?
Tom: Absolutely. the sleeping and waking sorts.
Bryn: Now for me, dreams (both sorts) have an inherently spiritual element. Is it the same for you?
Tom: Yes, it is the same for me. It has been so, as far back as I can remember.
Bryn: When did you become consciously pagan?
Tom: Consciously, it would have been around the time Cormac was born. So for around seventeen years I think, it predated him by about a year. Though, have realized since that in all important ways, I have been looking for a name for the way I experienced the world for long before that. Again, probably as far back as I can recall.
Bryn: Do your beliefs influence your art in any particular ways?
Tom: Impossible for them not to. I would say, in all ways. My sense of the numinous is the foundation of my art, I think. Or… more particularly, the numinous, in everything.
Bryn: You just used one of my favourite words. Numinous.
Tom: Mine too! Wanted to found a school of art around it when I discovered it.
Bryn: Who are your favourite artists?
Tom: Bosch was an early favourite. Then discovered engravings, Albrecht Durer. Rackham, Dulac… Then… I discovered the symbolists! *gasp* Odilon Redon, etc. On the other side, Dr Seuss… Jack Kirby, Mike Mignola, Miyazake. If I begin listing those currently working in sequential art this will become a very cumbersome list! Oh and Dave McKean’s work for the Sandman books.
Bryn: If you weren’t doing art, what might you be doing instead?
Tom: Don’t know how to answer that, really. Can’t imagine it. I can think of a lot of things I would love to do in addition to visual art. (important distinction. Writing is art, photography, music etc) Music would be one, actually, writing another, teaching, interested in film as well. Ritual. More things I want to study than I can possibly list.
It’s now possible to buy t-shirts and at least one poster featuring Tom’s work from www.zazzlecom/copperage Anyone interested in seeing what Tom and I do together, have a look at www.hopelessvendetta.wordpress.com – its the weekly newspaper for Hopeless – an island off the coast of Maine, USA, which Tom invented some years ago, and I have since been populating with strange characters and entities. In a matter of weeks, we should have a webcomic at www.itisacircle.com – a story based in the same setting as The Hopeless Vendetta. In the meantime, news and interviews with other comics people get posted at www.itisacircle.com/blog