Change. Katy Smail has been through tons, adapted deftly, maintaining and expanding her vision towards other fields. What hasn’t changed: the way Katy expresses her characters and style in a melancholic way.
Despite her scene becoming darkly euphoric, Smail manages to mend simplicity to it – minimalism and modernity that can express a world where flowers do nothing but tug us to be curious of the romanticized world they may inhabit. The blossoms Katy collects through her own set of hands are done with a unique purpose, the purpose to inspire in the utmost modern way.
“Many people paint flowers, and this is why is makes it challenging. Finding a way to make them your own,” she said.
As a Scottish illustrator, Smail has developed a avid eye and a simple flair that has tested to reconcile with her yen for print and detailed drawings.
Yet connection towards different things its what has allowed Katy to feel a bit more centered through life and work.
“Liking many things that are related has helped me, because I feel like it all feeds into each other,” Katy explains, and in an unconscious level that her being continues to play along the role of diversity.
This kind of openness and innovative mentality granted her to be swept over her feet by a photographer who she now calls her husband. This connection made not only romantic intimacy develop, but also a professional association flourish as she was offered to be represented by Kate Ryan, who is now her agent, and who was previously just Katy's husband's boss.
“She saw my work and took me on,” she said, smirking. “I knew then and there I had stepped to the next level.”
Katy captured this as more than just a quick transition of a reassuring flow of validation, because although it was Katy’s turning point, the pace still moved a bit slowly.
“It builds up to work full time and to continue to draw,” – so she decided to quit being a waitress. Katy knew that being a full time artist wouldn’t be a steady job, and that in fact, it would be scary, yet the exhilaration kept her interest quickened and alert. “When I look at it and step back, I see it and think ‘wow - this is a really silly job’, she continues,” but I don’t let any of that cross my mind anymore.”
She defends her artistic point of view now more than ever by expressing herself through a serene regard in which only genuine words come out of her orange-pigmented mouth (yes, this is what a modern day Renoir looks like). It’s now that I understand Katy has nothing but clear determination and full preservation as she allows her art to shut everything out, despite its obstacles.
“If success is too quick, you really don’t get to experience the work,” she says, “It just wouldn’t feel sustainable or even real, because you don’t do the emotional work.”
FAILURE – that’s what she means. A word that can scare many of us in the same way, yet its definition has been a bit of the path to Katy’s success. Believing that failure can be good did not come easily though, but thanks to Katy’s childhood, thanks to her days way back when she did theatrical plays in the woods of Scotland, it’s when unconsciously, creativity endured.
“Playing ‘make-believe’ and allowing myself to be carried away by both acting and ballet, was a huge influence for me, but most importantly, it was allowing myself to escape through the stories in books,” she said.
It is a question of nostalgia and magical aesthetic Katy carries, and as she does, we as viewers are invited to guess. But it is something deeper than this too, it’s a secret energy she renders. That side of the story no kid gets to hear about.
“I draw these ‘sad’ characters because I think it’s important to embrace the other side of you as there is a certain beauty to it,” said Katy. And as she says this, I remain quiet, sipping through mint tea, thinking, only those who embrace these emotions, can be able to adept themselves to see beauty everywhere, in every mood – she grasps it all, nimbly.
“I also really like the idea of creating a world where my work is recognizable while there are many things within it,” she says. Eventually the elegance in her sad pair of creations made her took note that she needed not only a signature look, but the allowance to explore different paths in illustration. And although Katy wouldn’t consider herself to be as brave now as she was when she first started, it still doesn’t deny the fact that having the initiative to rebel and to go outside her comfort zone makes her be nothing but a courageous dreamer and most importantly - maker.
As the conversation meanders from present to past, the question of ‘what is the next stop for you’ comes up. With overall sense of enthusiasm Smail mentions how she has been recently collaborating with her husband on several projects.
“Again, its stepping out of what I usually do,” and as she says this, she tells me how excited she feels about being able to participate in art direction while her husband photographs, because after all, “I have to use this part of my brain too.”