My Creative Life interview with Katherine Quinn

On this creative path I’ve met and become friends with many wonderful, interesting people across the world. It’s high time I introduced you to some of them.

‘My Creative Life’ is an interview series where we get an insider view of artists and their lives from different disciplines and on different stages of their own journeys. My intention is to ask questions that are perhaps a bit different from the usual – the answers to which might spark ideas or simply reassure you as you follow your own artist path.



I met Katherine Quinn twice. First through blogging; I loved her quiet and whimsical illustrative paintings, and her dry humour. The second time was when I crossed the world to travel round New Zealand, and we met up in person, which was awesome. Thankfully she dismissed the idea suggested by her daughter that I might be an axe murderer, and we spent some wonderful time hanging out in her town and talking art. Katherine has recently started moving into the world of licensing her work, {about time, I say!}, and I’m absolutely loving seeing her illustrations on products. I’m just waiting to see them in John Lewis or Paperchase now…

Meet Katherine…

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Katherine Quinn

What is your favourite thing about being an actively creative person?

I am lucky… as well as having my own creative practice I also work part time in a creative industry surrounded by people who think, talk and do creative.

I work part-time at Ideaschool in Taradale as a technician where we offer a degree in Visual Art and Design.  I love my job which is ordering art supplies for the students and any other technical jobs that come up.

Is there anything you wish were different? Have you learned a way to accommodate that?

I have moderate confidence in my work but not so much in myself as the creator. I sometimes think people will be disappointed when they meet me, that they might be expecting someone else to have created my drawings? I don’t think I usually let the not good enough feeling get in the way of my creative process, so I guess in a way I am accommodating it to a certain extent.

Katherine QuinnHow else does your creativity express itself in your life? {Especially if you’re having a dry spell in your ‘main’ area.}

I think having a creative bent overlaps into most aspects of my life… it is hard to explain how I express it, it is just there… {except when I walk… there is nothing artful in my gait}.

If I feel something isn’t working then it feels that everything is wrong with the world… and it can become all enveloping sometimes. But I have learnt that it will work itself out and sometimes getting on with something else helps and not to stress over it otherwise it makes it worse. You can’t make an appointment for creativity, it comes when it is ready. Doing something I am very familiar with can get me back in the zone.

Do you have any favourite resources, books or blogs around creativity you’d recommend for inspiration or support? 

I have recently purchased a lovely book called ‘The Craft and the Makers’… which is full of inspirational people making a living from their craft.

The two people I live with are a great resource; some of the conversations we have can lead to all sorts of ideas.

I have also found a lot of inspiration and support from doing Lilla Roger’s ‘Make Art That Sells’ course and also being involved in her Global Talent Search has been of great value to me. She is a wonderfully generous and talented woman with a wealth of knowledge which she is more than willing to share on her courses.

leaf sleepers

What one easy and simple creative activity would you suggest to someone who feels like there’s no time for creativity in their life?

I have this little shoe box of old paper cut offs and discards and I sometimes find it can be good to make a little collage with the bits and pieces…. the act of cutting and pasting and looking at shapes and colours will trigger some sort of creative wallop.

What’s your creative process like? Are you an all-in-one-intense-hit-then-collapse type or a more of a slow and steady sort? Or something else?

When I am in the mood or have a deadline or project, I am totally focused and will work hard and steady… then have a bit of time off and back into it again. If I go for too long without doing something creative I feel a bit lost.

animal pattern gray

What does being actively creative bring to your life that you might not have expected? 

I think one of the big things was the fact I can make money out of drawing, people will pay money for something I have made on my kitchen table… Growing up, my mother was a bit wary of me going down a creative path, but she has since changed her mind on the matter.

And after taking the Make Art That Sells course I have found a whole lot of new possible markets for illustration that I never thought about.

What best supports your creativity to thrive?

I think having a supportive partner is a huge encouragement and I really appreciate him for that.

Also working in a creative environment with like minded people is invaluable.

The White Cat

Have you ever lost touch with your creative self for a long period, and if so how did you bring it back?

I accidentally fell in love nearly four years ago and the creative side of me just vanished. My brain couldn’t focus on anything creative and I started to worry it would be gone for good… but it lasted about a year and then slowly the urge came back. It was like a little niggle at the back of my mind like something I had forgotten that was trying to be remembered.


I live with my partner and son in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay countryside and I have a daughter and grandson who live in Wellington.

I love to create patterns and illustration for stationery, paper products, children’s apparel, wall art, bolt fabric, the gift market, scrapbooking & children’s books.

My work is influenced by curious animals, nature and conversations with strange people… I have a great need to collect old tools and I would never turn down an adventure.

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If you have any questions or comments for Katherine, or have had any ahas reading her words, please do share in the comments!