Pure Illustration represent many talented illustrators and artists, some who have worked with us for many years. It’s always interesting to get a back-story about the artist who creates a licensed piece of artwork so we’ve been chatting with our creative team members to find out more about their work.

Here’s a recent interview with Catherine Aguilar:

How did you find yourself working in the world of art licensing?

Before going freelance and joining Pure Illustration, I had worked as an in-house designer for the Art Group, a London based card and poster publisher. When I left the company to set up on my own, it was a natural transition to create designs and illustrations for products I liked and was familiar with, i.e. cards, gift wraps, tableware and stationery items. I knew of Pure Illustration through a friend who was represented by them and I was very pleased to be taken on as they had all the necessary contacts in the areas I was interested in. Besides card illustrations, I also take on graphic design and artworking projects. I regularly work with an artist on his public art commissions, turning his artwork into large digital files ready for output on various materials. I occasionally create book covers for a small independent book publisher in Cheltenham. And if I have any time to spare at all, I play around with shapes and colours which may (or may not) become colourful wall art sold through various online retailers as well as my own web outlets. I have taken part in group exhibitions organised by East End Prints, a gallery space and art print shop in London’s East End, and with People of Print at KK Outlet, Hoxton.

Are there any artists who inspire your work?

I could name lots and lots of artists who I find inspiring, there is so much amazing artwork out there. But if I have to limit myself to a few… In broader terms and beyond the world of cards and licensing, I love Olimpia Zagnoli’s bold, brightly coloured and very graphic editorial illustrations, as well as Noma Bar, who is regularly published by the Guardian. Within my own field, I’m a big fan of print maker Jane Ormes and her charmingly simple retro inspired illustrations, and Inaluxe, whose abstract cards can be found in small shops and the likes of John Lewis or Paperchase. In a different vein, Angie Lewin’s ‘modern retro’ take on nature, both in her textile designs (St Jude fabrics) and on cards, are a delight to me. Last but not least, Pure Illustration is a treasure trove of fantastic illustrations, with very varied and strong styles. To be part of this group is a huge source of inspiration in itself.

Pure Illustration - Catherine Aguilar - Art Licensing

Describe your work space, do you have a mascot or a favourite pen?

I am very lucky to share a studio with a great bunch of illustrators and artists in a rambling red-brick factory building at the heart of Clerkenwell (sadly doomed as part of a new development…). My space is set between two huge windows looking onto the courtyard (hence the name Courtyard Studio), with enough blank wall space to pin images I like, and two shelves containing my favourite art and design books for inspiration, plus a few quirky objects picked up at fleamarkets to cheer me up!

Pure Illustration - Catherine Aguilar - Art Licensing

Do you have a ritual before you start your creative work?

Yes, I have all sorts of rituals… otherwise known as procrastination methods! A chat with my studio mates, getting boring admin out of the way, sipping a strong espresso and social media – this is all on the agenda.

Pure Illustration - Catherine Aguilar - Art Licensing

What is a typical day like when you are creating?

After I’ve done all of the above, to really start getting inspired, I turn to my pile of old Elle Decorations and other magazines, or go on Pinterest (I can really lose myself on Pinterest: creating moodboards, pinning all sorts of great imagery…). I start thinking up a little collection based on sending situations, create rough thumbnail sketches and pull together a particular colour palette. Then I start working my ideas up into black and white designs on screen and gradually work and rework each image by adding colour and textures (paint sploshes, tissue paper, fabrics…). I often put on my headphones and listen to my favourite music programmes on digital radio to get me into this process. So I don’t lose sight of the bigger picture, I often leave my work to ‘rest’ and turn to some routine studio tasks. This helps freshen up my eyes and see my work in a new light so I can add finishing touches and (hopefully) improve them!

Pure Illustration - Catherine Aguilar - Art Licensing

What has been the proudest moment in your art career?

I was really rather chuffed when I walked into a big Tesco’s one December and spotted three long shelves filled wall to wall with shortbread tins featuring my Christmas illustration! I was also very pleased to be commissioned to illustrate a short story by best selling author Jojo Moyes which appeared across several pages in Woman&Home magazine. And I was even happier when the following year, Vanity Fair Italy and German book publisher Rowohlt asked if they could use my illustration for their publications! But it’s equally satisfying to walk into a shop and spot one of my designs in the card rack – such as in John Lewis last Christmas!

Pure Illustration - Catherine Aguilar - Art Licensing

Who would be your dream customer to see your work in?

There are a few card and wrap companies I would be very proud to be associated with: noi publishing, Nineteenseventythree, The Art File, Urban Graphic to name just a few. Away from cards and stationery, there are a number of tableware companies who produce some nice design led products, which would be a treat to be briefed by, e.g. Avenida Home and Jenny Duff for placemats, or Ulster Weavers and To Dry For for tea towels. I guess I’d like to see my designs applied to ‘ordinary’ everyday things, which at the same time are totally indispensable.

Pure Illustration - Catherine Aguilar - Art Licensing

How would you like to develop your work in the future?

Besides creating for the world of cards and social stationery, having enjoyed magazine commissions so much, I’d happily develop in that direction, e.g. homes and gardens, cooking, cosmetics, interior or kitchen accessories, women’s and children’s issues… I would also love to get my teeth into a juicy cookery book project, for example. And packaging (food, drinks, beauty products, homewares) is another area which would be great fun to develop ideas for.

Pure Illustration – the agency for artists and illustrators working in art markets worldwide – www.pureillustration.co.uk