Q&A with an artist: Kelly O'Gorman (KOG Creative)
Kelly O'Gorman is someone that I truly admire as an artist. Her style is one that I wish I could emulate myself, but quite frankly, it's not within my remit at all. I guess we all have our unique talents as artists, and Kelly's illustration work is something I can admire from afar but accept that I'll never be able to draw like her…which is why I’ve been fan-girling all over the place ever since she accepted the offer of an interview!
Also, for my Creative Happy Life Club members, she took time out of her super busy schedule to create a brand new illustration for us to colour (see more at the bottom of the interview) and I was blown away by her generosity! It just goes to show how humble and beautiful she is an artist and as a person.
Read on to find out more about her background, where she draws her inspiration from, plus info on how to access free samples of her work and get 15% off in her Etsy store – yay!
Q2. How did you start making art? Did you ever study a creative discipline(s) or are you self-taught?
Art and creativity have been my thing ever since I can remember. At school I took Art as a GCSE, after, I went on to Art College and then on to University to study animation and left with a masters in Digital Practices in Design.
I then stayed on at the University as a part-time tutor, but left to pursue a career as a graphic designer. In my spare time, I have always doodled – so whilst I have studied a lot, I’ve also self-taught myself through experimenting with different mediums to find my style.
Q3. What does it mean to you to be an artist?
I love what I do, and without it I’m not quite sure what I’d do instead!
Q4. How long did it take for you to develop your signature style as an artist?
I used to doodle all the time with just a biro, letting my mind go free, and it all stemmed from there to be honest.
I like the permanence of a pen as it can be very unforgiving. Once you have laid it down, you have to work with it, and I like that.
Q5. Can you tell us about your journey to becoming a published artist? Have you ever done any other jobs before becoming an artist?
I’ve worked as a graphic designer, had a vintage shop in Barnet, been a cleaner and also worked as a University tutor.
I’m still on my journey as an artist – all the things I experience, see, and learn contribute to the way I create things. That’s what I love about doing what I do.
My creativity is forever expanding and I never know where my next inspiration will come from, or what form it will take. I’m always exploring and growing.
Q6. What inspired your business name?
My business name is KOG Creative, and the KOG part are the initials of my name Kelly O’Gorman.
For my logo design, I interpreted that visually into the form of a to express cogs turning…the cogs of the imagination machine!
Q7. Have you learned any lessons along the road to becoming a full-time artist? Is there anything you regret, or things you wished you'd done sooner?
I don’t think there’s any point in having regrets. I can’t go back in time to change anything, but each new day is a chance to change things and learn from the mistakes I’ve made and move forward.
I have learned a lot of lessons, and most of the time my mistakes were made from not following my instincts, looking for guidance in the wrong places, or assuming others knew better and taking my own intelligence for granted and not having belief in my own abilities – WOW, that’s deep!
Q8. What does your creative process look like? Where do you draw your inspiration from and what excites you most about the creative process?
A lot of my inspiration comes from nature. I love the outdoors and the changing seasons, and even since being a child I’ve always loved learning about the natural world.
On the contrary, I do love make-believe worlds, and I adore children’s books too!
Q9. Have you every suffered from creative block or burnout?
Yes, this does happen! When creative block happens, I find that a good walk in the fresh air, some exercise, or looking at inspiring art books or watching a film helps.
Sometimes, when I’ve been away from my practice for a long period of time I lose my flow which can be really frustrating, but I have grown to learn that it’s part of the process. It may take a while to get it going again, but once I’m there, everything comes easily.
Q10. Have you ever suffered with any struggles as an artist?
Ooh, yes! I have moments when I struggle with thoughts of “What the hell am I doing?” but another voice in my head is saying “I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t do this”, and ‘“I have to do this otherwise I would go mad!” – makes me feel like a crazy woman sometimes!
Q11. Are there any tools in your studio that you simply can't live without?
My Pens. I use UniPin pens with a nib of 0.05 or 0.1. Also, my light box which I’ve had for 20 years and is just HUGE!
Q12. What does your work space look like?
My studio currently looks like steptoes yard! Since having my daughter, it has turned into a bit of a storage unit, but she starts school in September and my goal is to get it clear.
At the moment, I just work on the kitchen table because the light is really good in the day, and during the evenings I work on my lap or on the floor, usually with a film on in the background.
Q13. Describe your typical day as an artist…
I haven’t had a full day as an artist in a long time. I have been mostly a full-time stay-at-home Mum for the past 4 years, so it’s literally been a case of drawing in nap times or during the night time. No two days are the same, I just have to fit it in when I can!
Q14. Do you have a morning / evening routine in place to encourage self-care or productivity?
Nope – just a cup of tea in the morning to get going! I try and write down to-do lists and try to tackle things in order of importance. I tick things off as I go through the day, and if I don’t finish my list, it just goes onto the next day.
Because I’m on such tight time restraints at the moment, on days where there’s a lot to do I set alarms on my phone and give myself maybe 10 minutes or so to blast through chores – it’s amazing what you can get done in short spaces of time if you are focussed.
Q15. What things do you do in your day-to-day life to encourage personal growth as either an artist or an individual?
I love audible books! I don’t get much time to sit down and read, so I listen to audio books on my phone or laptop. They are mostly centred around self-development – spiritual, time management, business, stories, bios of inspirational people etc.
Q16. Are there any themes you try to capture in your art?
Mainly Nature, but I also love folklore and the make-believe. Another thing I like to do is hide things in my work, or create drawings that can interpreted as different things depending on how you look at it.
Q17. What is your dream project? Have you got anything exciting in the pipeline you can tell us about?
I have a Victorian letter press and I’ve been adapting my artwork to print on this. My dad was a printer and I grew up around big old-fashioned presses and the smell of ink. It’s definitely a nostalgic thing for me.
Q18. Have there been any milestone moments in your life that you've channeled / used as inspiration in your art?
My oldest daughter became very ill when she was about 12 and it was a massive wake up call – the whole experience changed me forever!
I finally grasped the uncertainty of things. I realise that every day is a blessing, and that I should make the most of the things l love as nothing lasts forever.
Fortunately, my Daughter is healthy now, but going through that made me really appreciate what I have. I began to lighten up about life, and my artwork became more positive and inspired by the beauty of all things.
Q19. What do you love / you dislike most about your job?
LOVE: I love that I can do my own thing!
DISLIKE: Never having enough hours in the day. I sometimes wish that I could have a ‘print’ button on the top of my head, so I could print my ideas directly onto paper! There’s not always enough hours to physically create all the ideas I have.
Q20. What tips would you give to other artists that are looking to start making an income from their passion?
Don’t give up, embrace and express your uniqueness, and enjoy the journey.
Quick fire round 🔥
My most embarrassing EVER moment is...
I once owned this amazing pair of trousers that had velcro bits on them (where belts and straps were meant to attach). One day, for the school run, I just flung these trousers on straight from out of the tumble dryer, and it wasn’t until later that afternoon I realised a pair of my knickers had got themselves attached on one of these velcro areas. I had been walking around all day with them stuck on my bottom…how classy!
One thing that scares me is...
Not making the most of my time whilst I’m here.
If I could eat one meal for the rest of my life it would be...
Probably Fajitas – because you can mix it up a bit!
The artist that most inspires me is...
If I had to describe myself in 3 words, I would say I am...
Hard working, honest and kind.
My biggest accomplishment is...
Holding on to my dreams whilst holding down a crazy household.
If I could travel to anywhere in the world, it would be...
My favorite book is...
I rarely get the time to sit with a book, but I listen to a lot of audio books because it means I can work or drive at the same time. I don’t really have a favourite book, but at the moment I’m listening to Short Stories by Oscar Wilde.
My favorite band / solo artist / music genre is...
Again, no faves, but my preferred music choice is rock music. Artists and bands like Led Zeppeiln, Janis Joplin, Pink Floyd, The Doors, The Beatles etc.
One thing people assume about me is...
That I’m naïve – but not anymore!
My guilty pleasure in life is...
Discover more of Kelly’s art 🎨
If you loved this interview with the truly humble and absolutely brilliant Kelly O’Gorman, please check out her Etsy shop (pssst, she’s generously gifted us 15% off using the code Creativehappylife15 and go and check out more of her stunning work using the links below:
Newsletter sign up: www.kogcreative.com/newsletter
Etsy shop: www.etsy.com/uk/shop/kellyogorman (Use promo code Creativehappylife15 at checkout to receive 15% off)
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/theatozofcreativecolouring
Facebook group: www.facebook.com/groups/1292579737515089
Kelly’s gift to Creative Happy Life Club members
As mentioned previously, Kelly has generously gifted members of the Creative Happy Life Club an absolutely STUNNING carousel horse illustration. If you’d like to know more about how you can get brand new colouring and planner pages each month from myself, plus bonus goodies like this page from Kelly, head here: Find out more about the Creative Happy Life Club membership.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching her work on this piece and see it go from rough sketch to final concept, and if you would also like to see her drawing process and WIPs then I highly recommend adding yourself to the Kelly O’Gorman Official Facebook group or giving her Facebook page a like.
There was a sneaky mention that she enjoyed drawing this page so much that there may be a colouring book brewing…so keep your eyes peeled! How blimmin’ exciting!