Meet Cornish Artist Katy Pillinger

If you’re a fan of whimsical illustrations, then chances are you may have already heard of our latest artist in the spotlight..

Katy Pillinger is an illustrator/designer/maker based in Truro, Cornwall. Over past four years she has taken the leap into freelacne design and has perfected her unique and colourful style. Not only is Katy now a prolific Etsy seller, but her work is featured on internet giant ‘Not On The Highstreet’ and you’ll find her attending a variety of exciting, artisan markets throughout the year.

Tucked away in her own little corner of the South West; Katy has been vocal about her love for the West Country and the talent and creativity that it seems to nurture. Personally, I couldn’t agree more with Katy’s sentiments, and I was excited to learn that many of her illustrative pieces have taken inspiration from her life in Cornwall.

Credit Katy Pillinger

Needless to say, Katy Pillinger is one talented creative, and I was keen to find out more about her methods…

Katy, what made you take the leap to go full-time as an illustrator/designer/maker?

Whilst growing up, I never really considered what my career would be.  Although, I did know it would be something creative. Gosh, I would never have imagined that I would be where I am now, working as a freelance illustrator from the comfort of my own home with my two cats.  It is quite honestly, a dream job.

But, it certainly didn’t happen for me overnight.  It was whilst I working as a waitress that Katy Pillinger Designs began to emerge.  I suspect there will be plenty of micro business owners that can relate to this.  I would design and sew in between my shifts and on days off.  I won’t lie, I basically had no life.  It was all consuming, but I loved it.  I remember saying to myself, whilst sitting at a tiny makeshift table in my living room ‘wouldn’t it be amazing if I could make a living from this?’.  Soon, I had my first stockist, I set up an online Etsy shop, commissions were steadily coming in and I realised, I could!  So I took the leap of faith and became a full time freelance designer, maker and illustrator and I haven’t looked back since.

Can you describe your aesthetic in THREE words?

Whimsical, Naive, Gentle

Credit Katy Pillinger

Who or what inspires you to create your work?

I absolutely adore the work of Carson Ellis.  I love the humour of her characters and the playfulness of her illustrative style, most definitely an inspiration to me!  This may sound silly, but I also find Instagram hugely inspiring.  I literally see the works of illustrators/creatives from every corner of the world on my breakfast table with me, whilst I eat my porridge.  I find other’s success and raw talent immensely inspiring and motivating.  Bodil Jane, Fran Meneses and Holly Exley, to name a few. But, ultimately, my inspiration comes from my home, childhood nostalgia, my love for food, my cats, plants and my imagination.

What are your go-to tools of the trade?

My watercolour set and my wacom graphics tablet are tools that I couldn’t be without.  All my illustrations start as watercolours and then I tweak them in photoshop.

If your studio was on fire and you could only grab one thing – what would it be?

This question makes me slightly palpitate.  This would be my worst nightmare as my studio is inside my home!  Obviously it would be my two cats.  But, there is a photograph on my bedroom wall of me, my dad and my sister from when I was small.  I would have to save this as it brings back some lovely memories that could never be replaced.

Credit Katy Pillinger

What is your favourite thing about being based in Cornwall?

You guys!  The customers, bloggers, fellow artists and small business owners that continue to support our little Cornish creative community. I have met some amazing people at local fairs, some of which I am lucky enough to now call my friends.  I also avoid stress as much as possible and I find the pace of life in Cornwall really suits me.

If you could collaborate with anyone (past or present) who would it be and why?

Yikes, tricky!  I think if I could collaborate with anyone, it would have had to have been Roald Dahl.  He was my childhood hero. I would spend hours listening to his audio books as a small child, and to be able to work with someone with such an incredible imagination would have been stupendous! I mean, seriously… snozzcubers?  Pure genius!

Finally, where can we find/buy your work?

I  have a website with a list of stockists and also you can find some of my prints and illustrative gifts online via my Etsy shop.  I will also be showing at a few winter events this Christmas, so you can follow me on Instagram for sneaky behind the scene snaps and updates.

Credit Katy Pillinger

Find Katy Online


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