Having launched the Interior Design Toolkit, I have a new fascination and interest in product and stationery design and designers and actively seek them out to try and learn from them. I was delighted to come across the lovely Kate Dowling, an Edinburgh based designer, but with a customer base far and wide, with her own stationery company Kate & The Ink I wanted to find out more about her.
AG: Hello Kate, where are you from and where did you study?
KD: I was brought up in quite a remote village in Aberdeenshire called Alford and when I left school, I studied Product Design at the Glasgow School of Art and graduated in 2003
AG: What did you do following your graduation?
KD: I went and worked in London in Service Design for four years, before returning to Scotland to work. When my son, Fergus, was born in 2016, I took the opportunity to focus on Kate & The Ink, a design-led cards and stationery business that I set up in 2013 and being at home with a new baby felt like perfect timing.
AG: What inspires your artwork?
KD: I am fascinated by the psychology of gift buying. It is so personal. I love the fact that a sentimental message is conveyed in a gift and my products aim to clearly send a message.
AG: I love your ‘List Cards’ – what are actually your best selling products?
My best selling products are my Sun/Moon prints which are very popular for children’s bedrooms!
AG: Future plans?
KD: I love collaborating, diversifying and taking new directions. I have been collaborating with my Mum, a poet, recently, on a range of wrapping paper and notebooks called Earthbound. Inspired by the scenery of the West Coast of Scotland and my Mum’s poems.
We are trying to convey a Modern Scotland: romantic and mysterious, but contemporary and upbeat as well. The new range of wrapping papers are proving really popular. I’ve just sent a gift wrap order to The Royal Academy of Arts who are a brand new stockist and I’m delighted.
In future, I would love to do something in jewellery, collaborating with a jewellery designer, perhaps.
AG: You sound like a talented family, what does everyone else do?
KD: My brother Rory Dowling of Taran Guitars builds some of the world’s finest handmade custom acoustic Guitars and Mandolins from precious tonewoods in the East Neuk of Fife and my partner has a craft beer business.
AG: What advice would you give folk wanting to set up as an illustrator?
KD: Start off on Etsy and learn as much as you can about the latest trends. Develop a cohesive brand and plenty of products and have a style that stands out, so that your stand at at trade fair gets noticed by good stockists. I started wholesale by taking a stand at Pulse, before setting up my Etsy shop and I think this was harder.
AG: And your partner’s beer business?
KD: Yes, my parner set up a craft beer brewery in Leith Pilot Beer 5 years ago now. They are sold on keg in pubs. There is an exquisite range of flavours including Earl Grey tea, lemongrass, Rhubarb and Parma Violets
AG: Home inspiration?
I love collecting vintage pieces and furniture that feels as if it has a story to tell. My home is mainly white with splashes of colour, I want it to feel spacious rather than cluttered, despite my love of collecting.
AG: We can’t wait to see it!