Hi Kitty, where are you from?
Hello! I am originally from Dublin but emigrated to Australia in 2008. I lived in Melbourne for all of that time, but recently relocated to Rye on the Mornington Peninsula where I now work from my rented studio space.
How did your artistic career start?
I began my artistic journey at uni in Dublin where I studied Visual Communications. When I moved to Melbourne 14 years ago I headed down the photography road, and generally worked in photography and graphic design until a couple of years ago when I did some soul searching and realised: what I really wanted to do was being a painter!
So, now you dedicate yourself to your art full-time?
Yes I’ve taken the plunge to make this my full-time gig, and it’s been tough going so far as I’m still early in my career, but I just keep telling myself to trust the process! I’m finally properly happy 🙂
Was this the right decision for you?
I am still quite early on this particular journey as a painter, but having said that, I view my years spent as a graphic designer as an integral part of what I am currently doing. Changing career paths at 38 was very daunting and it was a big decision, but it is 100% the best thing I have ever done for myself.
Could you describe your art in your own words?
I guess I would describe my style as being very graphic and precise, and obviously very colourful. I have always been attracted to intense or clashing colours, and often struggled doing dull corporate graphic design work. Painting in vibrant colours feels like a true expression of myself. I am currently only working in the primary and secondary colours, and am endlessly fascinated with how the relationship between one of these colours and the next can change so dramatically depending on their scale, form, ratio, and the quality of the line that separates them.
Hard edge art really suits my personality as I am quite a precise person and always drew inside the lines as a kid! I love the process of translating a sketch into a digital render in Adobe Illustrator, and then realise it as a tangible painting. The painting part is like meditation for me — the computer is where all of the mistakes, decisions and headaches happen. When I’m working on a painting I am completely engrossed in it and time disappears. Also I can say that the outcome always looks so much better as a painting than a digital image, so it is a very rewarding process to see it unfold.
Based on your own experience, what advice could you give to other artists?
Listen to your gut instinct and only create what is true to you, not what you think other people want to see.
How are have your paintings been received by the audience?
So far my work has been well received, I think people find the colourfulness of my artworks quite eye-catching, and my precision is generally a topic of conversation! Some people say ‘wow’, others shudder and back away slowly 😬
What working environment do you need to flourish?
I need to work in a private space as I am a very self conscious person and don’t like people watching me work! Music is essential. I’m a non-stop Spotifyer and the music I listen to needs to align with my mood (currently having the album Rōnin I by UNKLE on the go in case you weren’t wondering).
Who inspires you and why?
Tough to narrow it down! I love a lot of street artists’ work and what it encompasses — the availability, the immediacy and the rhetoric. Maser, Reka & Shane O’Driscoll for example. Oh and Mysterious Al, Michael Reeder and I Am Eelco too. Going back in time I’m a big fan of the mystic works of Hilma af Klint, and on a more contemporary note, Stephen Ormandy is a master of vibrant colours and integrating them with shape and form, and Sue Beyer has an amazingly considered approach to colour. Outside of hard-edge work, I’m mind blown by the hyperreal work of Cj Hendry, and both Conor Harrington and Jason Limon are top of my list of artists who’s work I wish I could own.
What project would you like to do in the future?
I can’t say exactly what it would be or what form it would take, but I would love to be involved in something collaborative that could address important and immediate issues, primarily Climate Crisis. I would love to paint a mural in the not too distant future, so I need to get my grant applications on with local councils.
I never thought my pipe dream of being a painter in a studio would ever be a reality as I wasn’t a painter, I was in my late 30s and I’d already set myself up with photography and graphic design, but it was becoming more obvious to me that I really wasn’t happy. It wasn’t until I did a workshop in 2019 about achieving your career potential, during which a group of complete strangers — through a process which analysed my personality and what makes me tick — all concluded that I should be an artist working in a studio in the woods! This was the first time I ever gave my fantasy the conscious thought it deserved. So to actually answer the question, I would have given my desire to be an artist a lot more gravity much earlier in life.
Is it easy for you to start a new painting just like that?
If I have a painting on the go I’m all-in, and I have to force myself to even take a lunch break. But if I’m in that awful void of no ideas, I have to first deal with the mental clutter from other areas of my life, so if I can get my life sorted I have a better capacity to generate an idea worth pursuing.
Which one of your pieces do you like most?
I think my ‘Time Is Hardcore’ triptych is my favourite set of works, partly because they represent something that was almost universally felt during the pandemic — that time was elastic, and was intrinsically interconnected with our concepts of freedom and ‘lockdown’. On a personal level, these works also reconfirmed that I had made the right career choice — I’d never felt so happy, committed, focused and completely immersed in any work I’ve ever done.
Would you collaborate with other artists?
I haven’t had the chance yet, but would absolutely be open to working with others. As comfortable as I am in my little studio, I’m by no means a hermit!
Why do hard-edgers have such good self control? Because they always know where to draw the line. Ba-dum tss. If you got this far, thanks for reading my story!
Thanks for sharing, Kitty!
Kate “Kitty” Lambe ★ Artist resume
Bachelor of Graphic Design (Visual Communication), IADT Dún Laoghaire Advanced Diploma in Screen & Media, RMIT Cert IV in Visual Arts, NCAT Group Shows This year: Linden Postcard Show, Linden New Art Small Works Art Prize, Brunswick Street Gallery Chongworld Christmas Gallery, Rose Chong Costume Picture Windows, Docklands Diversions & Other Detours, Artist’s Studio 106.