Aimee talks to Kate about her life, her work and her favourite stationery.
Kate Rowland’s jewellery is a big hit here at Hannah Zakari! Her laser cut wooden brooches and earrings with hand painted details are quirky, cute, and extremely wearable. And as well as making some of our favourite jewellery, as an illustrator Kate also produces beautiful, delicate watercolour paintings: we’re in awe!
In this Designer Interview, Aimee talked to Kate about her life, her work and her favourite stationery.
You recently moved across the world to Japan! What do you like best about living in Tokyo? And has it been easy settling in?
I’m so lucky! It’s an overwhelming place, everyday I see something bizarre. It’s definitely not easy moving away from home, especially in a country where the language is so difficult (not to mention earthquakes!). But the history, landscape and culture here is so inspiring. We are trying to see and experience as much as possible before we move home in autumn.
Have you discovered any great Japanese stationery or art materials since you’ve been in Tokyo?
I have! To the detriment of my bank account. I love to use brush pens, ink and watercolours, and the choice here is overwhelming. My favourite watercolours are made by a Japanese brand, Kuratake, so I’ve been stocking up on different colours. Even the 100 yen shops here stock decent brushes and pens! I’m also a huge loser, and love visiting DIY shops, I’ve bought some lovely, unusual wood and plastics to laser cut into jewellery…
Our customers love your laser cut jewellery, with the Paint Palette and Feminist Heart brooches being particular favourites. Do you have a favourite piece in your collection?
The greenhouse necklace has been a favourite of mine for years! It was the first piece where I really started thinking about my designs as three dimensional objects, rather than flat images to be laser cut. I still love hand painting them too, even though I’ve made hundreds! Each one is different and organic, and there’s something lovely about that.
Tell us a little bit about your design process; how is a piece of Kate Rowland jewellery made?
My ideas start out as scribbles or notes in the margin of my sketchbook, and often they will stay there for months, if not years! Then I’ll work on them until I’m happy, draw up and ink the final designs. Once the drawings are vectorised, I engrave and laser cut them. This often involves a lot of trial and error, especially if I am making a particularly detailed, complex design, or using a new material. Then the wood is sanded, sometimes painted, and assembled into a piece of jewellery!
As well as designing super cute jewellery, you do some illustration work for clients; which side of your business do you prefer (if either) and why?
That’s a hard question. I absolutely love designing jewellery, and making things with my hands, seeing something physical and tangible emerge from an idea. To know that people want to wear my work is an amazing feeling. But I’ll always want to draw and paint, and to make a living from that is something I aspire to!
Do you have any advice you can share with aspiring illustrators and designers?
Always look outside of your discipline, don’t stop creating, and don’t compare yourself to others!