I have always preferred making to forms of drawing and painting so studying for a mixed media crafts degree seemed an obvious choice.
When I was at college, my dream job would have been to work for Jim Henson’s Creature Shop but it being pre-internet, finding information for such a career path was rarer than hen’s teeth! The nearest I got to anything useful was a guest lecture from someone from the now defunct Cosgrove Hall Studios, home of Chorlton and the Wheelies and the Wind in the Willows.
In lieu of any constructive careers advice, I decided to follow a 3D making path and fought against the fine art bias of my tutors. Fortunately, I found the B.A. Hons Crafts (combined materials) course based in the somewhat isolated Alsager Campus of what later became Manchester Metropolitan University. Here I had the opportunity to study wood, metal, textiles and ceramics, with an option to specialise from Year 2 onwards. I choose metal and textiles and, to this day, I’d have a hard time explaining why as I could pretty much have chosen any of them!
Utilising metal and weaving and dressmaking skills, my degree work was inspired by costume, mythology, fairy tales, fantasy and science fiction. Again, I fought against the advice to produce more serious, aesthetic and less functional work. Wherever I studied, there was always a seemingly superior set of students, who got it right! They could say the right thing, reference the right artists or makers, reflect on the aesthetic concepts and philosophise on their vision until the cows came home but it all came across as pretentious waffle to me. This is where the idea for ‘creativity with Northern attitude’ came from! To me this is creativity with a down to earth, no nonsense view on the world. Does it look good? Does it make you smile? Yes? Well job done then!!
After graduating, I did a few bits and pieces before returning to MMU to qualify as an Art and Design Technology teacher. I qualified in 1996 and started work at a secondary school in Bolton. Initially, on a 1-year temporary contract, I stayed for nearly 20! About half way through my time there, I opted to teach part-time so I could devote part of my working week to looking after the school website and developing the school learning platform. This was a great opportunity to develop my digital and graphic skills. During this time, I also started on a programme of school refurbishment and produced many large-scale educational graphical illustrations to enhance the tired buildings. Five years on and I have been asked back by the new headteacher to refresh and add to the designs which has been great as it is very different from what I do day to day.
After being made redundant in 2015 and with the tech and moral support of my beloved husband Bear and inspiration from out cat Lulu, I set up Kat Pearson Designs in a hope of putting together everything I love and have learnt.
Having studied and worked in such a wide range of materials and disciplines, it’s not surprising that my inspiration comes from a multitude of eclectic sources. I love architecture, in all its forms, but in particular churches and stained glass. As a carry-over from teaching graphics and product design, I enjoy interesting typography, packaging and innovative design. Whilst I don’t wear much of it myself, I love the creativity and variety found in jewellery and shoe design. I draw inspiration from nature and the animal world (fully paid up member of the crazy cat lady support group and red pandas, otters and big cats are always first stops on my trips to the zoo!) From the art world, my heroes are Goldsworthy, Gormley, Dali, Rothko, Hundertwasser, Gaudi, Chagall and Chihuly. Less traditionally, artwork from comics and graphic novels, fantasy and film concept artists and world class tattooists all filter through and inform my designs. Many of my designs have religious or ecclesiastical overtones, e.g. my Angels and Stables range, not because I am particularly devout but because it is part of my history, background and family so the symbolism is part of my visual language. Catholic school and 20 years teaching in a church school has definitely rubbed off! Sister Clare would be so proud!
Cats are obviously my biggest source of inspiration and I produce work for people like me. It’s not about creating cute designs, it’s about capturing both the joys and the challenges of, and I use the word tentatively, ‘owning’ a cat. Those of us lucky to share our lives with cats know we are, in fact, just ‘staff’! Much beloved staff but staff nonetheless. Cats choose to spend time with us and choose when to show affection. They are funny and entertaining and their ability to just relax and sleep anywhere is a lesson in tranquillity we could all learn from. I try to capture the essence of calm and peace of a sleeping cat in many of my pieces as well as some of their more comedic thoughts in my ‘Be More Cat’ cards and coasters.
Beardy Bear designs are often inspired by my Bear. He’s a great, big, beardy, tattooed, gruff of a man (and a secret big softy!) He is awesome! Lots of the designs are inspired by him and/or his friends and their love of craft beer, artisan gin, rugby and tattoos. The town and country designs draw on my love of typography.
Angels & Stables are a direct result of my upbringing, education and 20 years of working in Church of England school! Christmas was always a big deal for our family, and not because of presents but because we would all be together. Christmas Day with less than a dozen people was underwhelming! Part of Christmas was always the decorations and the nativity crib. Whilst teaching, I worked closely with our Head of RE on a number of projects to create visual imagery for whatever theme or campaign we were undertaking, including not one but two half-sized stylised nativity cribs, one for school and one for The Royal Bolton Hospital. In doing this, I became aware that there was desire for contemporary designed imagery and artefacts for practising Christians. So I began designing for this market as well as feeding my Mum’s addiction to angels!
I currently work in a range of media including ceramics, digital painting & illustration, needle-felt and papier-mache.