A fashion photographer turned illustrator, the name Kelly Thompson is eponymous with her signature artwork and public persona. Today the strikingly stylish redhead is sought out not just for her work but invited to walk on fashion runways and attend starlit events.
Interview Carolyn Enting
Good magazine has worked with Thompson and her Melbourne-based agency Maker’s Mgmt for many years so we naturally invited her to submit a piece of her artwork to help Good celebrate its 10th birthday. The piece she choose was an artwork she created to celebrate Karen Walker’s 10th birthday of making eyewear. A wonderful brand synergy.
If you had to describe your style of work to a stranger without showing them your work, how would you describe it?
Quite delicate, detailed and feminine. Pencil artworks inspired by nature and confident women.
What inspires you most in your work/purpose?
My inspiration changes all the time, but a vein in everything I do these days is creative community, helping to strengthen it, connect with others in it and share my knowledge to help grow it and support it. Through Maker’s Mgmt, Maker’s Mrkt and a lot of the events I speak at/people I work with, I’m really focused on helping people like me be happier and more successful.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
It was never consciously decided, but I always knew I’d be in creative industry. I started as a photographer, then dabbled as a M.A.C make-up artist and stylist and illustration grew during that time very organically, starting as a hobby, then followed with exhibitions, then an agent… now I run an online store and an artist agency and work as a creative consultant. Being an artist and creative is just in me. I think no matter what I do there is always going to be an artistic connection somewhere, it’s just something you’re born with.
What was your first memorable artistic memory?
My grandfather teaching me how to draw 3D houses and my brother and I drawing full street scenes on giant rolls of paper so we could drive our matchbox cars on them.
What is one of your career highlights to date?
Launching an agency was a big thing for me, not necessarily because of the act itself, but because I had come to a point of confidence that I could try and wasn’t afraid to fail.
What types of commissions do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy commissions when the client knows my work and comes to me for me and not just because they need someone who can draw. There is a lot of pleasure in working for someone who trusts you as an artist and respects your ideas. The best work always comes when a client doesn’t dissect every single element of your work! Lately botanical-based briefs have been my favourites, it is so relaxing and enjoyable to sit and draw pages and pages of florals!
What is your happy place?
Outside in summer walking somewhere. I just want to be outside and warm! Oh, and also rummaging in a giant small town vintage warehouse, I can disappear for a day easily.
What medium do you mostly/prefer to work with, and why?
I keep it simple. Recycled cardboard because I like the texture and irregularity of it. Black Faber Castell polychromos pencils because they are very black and nice and sharp! And Photoshop because I need to change my mind with colours all the time!
What do you hope people get from your work?
Hmmm, I don’t really have a specific thing I want them to see or feel, I just hope they find their own bit of beauty and pleasure in it.
For Good magazine’s 10th birthday issue you provided an illustration to the brief ‘life is good’. Can you explain more about this particular illustration?
This particular illustration was made to celebrate Karen Walker’s 10 years of creating sunglasses. It was made back when I had more time and would create things like this purely for social media! I created it because it was really impressive to see a brand I’ve grown up with do so well and I felt really happy for her successes.
To see more visit kellythompsoncreative.com