Kate Pullen is an emerging illustrator and letterer from Melbourne who has a thing for country music and has recently brought on an intern - her English staffy Vince. Lettering and illustration provides an outlet for the almost-daily existential crisis (helloooo millennials), continually swinging between 'You can do it! Aim high! You're wasting precious time!' and 'Put yo' feet up, you deserve a break, have a Kit Kat'. Alex got to know Kate in the lead up to Praise You touching on topics from working solo vs in a group to self confidence
You’ve drawn more flourishes and vowels than any one person can poke a stick at AND you’re a part of a pretty sweet girl gang—can you tell us yourfavourite parts about working solo and in a team? Also, can you please introduce yourself?
Ha! I do like them flourishes. Well hello, everyone! My name is Kate, I hail from Melbourne and cannot drink caffeine. I understand that this makes my choice of profession and home city seriously questionable. I also have a thing for country music and can’t seem to have any kind of conversation without mentioning my staffy Vince (aka little ratbag / apple of my eye).
I’ve always been happy working on my own, and have become quite used to doing things whenever, wherever. However being part of a team, having people there that will back you, provide advice, and allow you to vent where necessary, is invaluable.
Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way?
Have I ever! Haha, I don’t think there’s a creative out there that hasn’t been met with challenges. But when you think about it, whatever profession you’re in, you’re going to hit some roadblocks! Especially if you’re working for yourself. Self-confidence, establishing a style, being taken seriously...and this is before trying to wrap your head around the business side of things.
How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?
Again another tricky question and something that’s often a continual battle. I love what I do, but that doesn’t mean it comes easy, and that there aren’t times I’m staring at a blank page, deadline breathing down my neck, with absolutely no idea of what I’m going to do. Working in a group has been fantastic; having a sounding board is just the best. I also believe investing time in things outside of work has really helped me here. Not only relationships and health, but other creative endeavours that aren’t linked to work.
What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?
Positive body image and self-love are two things that have been difficult to wrap my head around, ever since I was about 14. So while it's still something I struggle with, I'm learning to love my body, bit by bit (so to speak). Why is it a struggle? I’m no expert but I do believe there’s a helluva lot of pressure on women to look a certain way (and men, too, don’t get me wrong). I also grew up dancing, where perfection is the ultimate goal. Just FYI, that one’s unattainable.
What’s your favourite part about your body and why?
So yeah, to be quite honest in the past (and just a little bit of the present), it’s been more about what can I tolerate, rather than what do I love. But slowly learning to love what I have - it’s a process!
Do you have any mantras or words to live by?
A quote from Strictly Ballroom: ‘a life lived in fear is a life half lived’. I also like to remind myself that ‘you can only do what you can do’.
What advice what you give your 18-year-old self if you could?
I do believe thinking about this can be helpful - self-reflection is always valuable - but I don’t spend a lot of time sitting with questions like these. We learn things when we’re ready to learn them, we need to want to ask for help to be ready to receive it. Of course, every single situation is different, and so I can only speak to my experience, but I can send my past self-advice, or I can concentrate on making sure me in the present has learnt from everything that has happened.
What the biggest risk you’ve taken to date? What were the pressure points and was it worth it?
Living with anxiety means that when it’s bad, almost everything feels like a risk haha. Looking back though, putting any new piece of work out in public is daunting. As is opening up to someone new (whether it’s in friendship or something more). The more you do it, the easier it’s supposed to get and I do think that’s true, even though it may take a reeeeeally long time.
As you’ve gotten older, how has your perception of your body and confidence changed?
More than anything I think it’s just becoming more relaxed about the whole thing; not beating yourself up over every, single, little thing. Also learning and practising gratitude, noting things I am thankful for and focusing on these, rather than the other. I want to stress though that this is not always a choice you’re able to make; our brains are so bloody powerful, sometimes those negative thoughts have too strong a handle on things.
INSTAGRAM: @katepullendraws / @theletterettes