We get to see Birmingham’s thriving independent scene through the illustrations of Katie Tomlinson. Her interpretation of Birmingham latest crop of new shops, restaurants and hangouts are brought to a new dimension with the help of minimal lines, washed inks and negative space.
The series so far features the burger joint on everyone’s lips; Original Patty Men, pinball speakeasy bar Tilt, fashion boutiques P&co and Liquor Store, and the latest coffee shop Faculty.
Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you end up in Birmingham?
I’m originally from Bristol, but moved up to Birmingham after a year out travelling to study. I started on BA Hons Fine Art, but I didn’t like the course and was criticised by tutors for being ‘too illustrative’, so I decided to change courses and managed to get onto the Visual Communication course at BCU. A lot of my friends are still up here and it’s been pretty decent for freelancing since graduating, so I’m still here!
How would you describe your style?
A combination of traditional drawing, mark making, negative space and flat colour. I’m interested in not only illustration, but graphic design and as I said began on a more Fine Art based route, so composition is really important in my work.
How much of your work is digital? Do you create the illustrations in situ or take reference imagery to work on?
I do both – my work is heavily influenced by reportage illustration (reportage basically means recording from life) which studied meticulously throughout my final year at Uni. And I always have a Moleskine on me, but often I take photos and work from them – it’s not always convenient to sketch from life!
It depends what I’m creating for – typically I draw all the line and washes by hand using ink, then scan the image in to manipulate digitally, but I try not to use digital software too much. I mainly use it just to add areas of flat colour or adjust tones.
You have given 5 of Birmingham’s newest independents your artistic interpretation, who’s next?
Birmingham’s independent scene is really starting to come to life, and so there are loads of retailers I want to sketch… I live in the Jewellery Quarter so I’m eager to illustrate what my local area has to offer.
Is there a particular criteria you look for when deciding what to draw?
I basically draw places that I would recommend – the project kind of started by accident, as I said before I’m always sketching people I’ve seen and places I’ve gone to, so it just came from that.
I’m really interested in Birmingham’s independent scene as when I first moved up here I remember thinking it was really limited, but over the last 5 years it’s really grown and it’s great to see all of these interesting places popping up and doing so well, and I’d like to support that. I would say that I just look for unique spaces run by passionate people.
Favourite part of the creative process?
Probably meeting the owners and experiencing the venue for myself, I’ve met a lot of really amazing and insightful people throughout this project. I also love seeing the drawing come to life and being transformed from a basic sketch or photo into a final illustration.
What kind of feedback have you received for your latest series?
I’ve had nothing but positive feedback from this series, which is probably why it’s still ongoing! I’m really enjoying it, and it’s the perfect excuse for me to check out all of these new places and meet the people behind them.
How important is social media, in providing exposure for your work?
Social media has been really important in terms of exposure and gaining interest in my work.
It’s also been vital for networking so I always make sure I keep everything up to date so that my most recent work is visible, well presented, and that I’m easy to contact directly.
Instagram – @ktillustration
Twitter – @KTIllusration
Website – www.ktillustration.com