We're back with our creative women series, and this week we're thrilled to feature Kate Kalula.
Kate is a stick and poke tattoo artist and illustrator based on the Mornington Peninsula. Her delicate, dreamy tattoo designs celebrate the sun, sea and natural world. We loved chatting with Kate about her professional journey, insider Peninsula tips and plans for the year ahead - and meeting her gorgeous pup Theo!
Tell us about your professional journey - highlights, learnings, mentors.
My career path was never a clear one, and I didn’t necessarily have a direct plan into the job I have now. In 2005 I graduated high school with an average enter score and a reasonable amount of work in my folio, from completing 5 art subjects. With no idea of what I wanted to do, I decided to not rush into a uni course. After a few years of down time and travel, I went to what was called Brighton Bay, Art, Design & Photography Program. Which was like a year 13 of folio preparation, it covered most creative platforms and added to my enter score. A challenging year, but a lot of growth in many ways, I decided I wanted to try and get into illustration, particularly children’s books.
After that I completed a Diploma in Illustration. Which was a pivotal time in my career and was when I started to establish my own style.
Through networking I was able to score an apprenticeship as a tattoo artist, working with a machine. I learnt a lot about the culture of tattoo studios and how the industry works, during this time it wasn’t as female friendly as it is now. I left and decided to go back to the drawing board, pun intended, and throw myself into freelance illustration. This was a great time to market myself and create a client base. As a little side hustle, I still worked with tattooing, minus the machine and experimented with stick and poke. This then quickly gained traction and I was lucky enough to score a chair at Fine Line Tattoos in 2016.
Fine Line Studio in Melbourne
Describe your creative process
I love spending a full day, usually Mondays immersing myself with designing. I used to struggle a lot with getting in a ‘drawing mood’ but I have trained myself to snap into it quite quickly. I do need to be somewhere without any distractions, but if I do get a bit of a drawing block a walk along the beach always helps. Also snacking, lots of snacking.
Kate at home working on illustrations
What are you working on right now, personally and professionally?
With a large amount of work that goes on behind tattooing, each week consists of a lot of custom designs. I am now making time to draw up extra pieces that I want to work with. There will be a lot of flash work this year, which I am very excited about. I am also working on some fun merch for summer.
Favourite self care ritual/s to unwind?
To wind down and relax, I wish I could say I meditate, practice yoga etc but that would be a big lie. My idea of winding down after work is watching trash tv, with a cup of tea, cuddling with my beautiful golden pup, Theo. I also oddly love to clean my home; it gives me a lot of clarity after a busy week.
Favourite travel experience/s?
Some of favourite memories travelling would be... walking from Murren to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland, most amazing views I have ever seen. Finding antique Italian tiles on the beaches of Bellagio and horse Riding at Glenorchy, New Zealand. Also, many fun interstate trips with friends!
What makes you feel most alive?
Travelling makes me feel alive, I love planning random little trips with friends or even going on solo work trips. Getting out of my comfort zone and making new friends makes me happy.
What are you looking forward to?
I am looking forward to having a full year of plans, it feels great to be putting things in action out of lockdown when it comes to work and ticking off the bucket list that I have wanted to do over the last two years. I am hoping to get overseas next year and work in Denmark. I am also looking forward to working with machine tattoos and refreshing my skills with this
Who or what is inspiring you right now?
So many wonderful artists art inspiring me at the moment...
To name a few...
Insider home town tips?
Without giving too many secret spots away, but things that I love on the Mornington Peninsula are swims at McCrae beach, walks at Greens Bush, views from sea winds, eating at Graceburn and Tedesca, and drinks at Kerri Greens Winery.
Graceburn and Tedesca
Kate wearing the Calypso dress in Ginger
Summer is our favourite season, what’s a song, taste and place that reminds you of summer?
Song: Seabird by the Alessi Brothers- so nostalgic!
Taste: An aperol spritz remind me of Christmas and summertime with family.
Place: Would either be McCrae beach or Phillip Island.
Some words or a motto you live by?
Not everything is a race and not to compare yourself to others. When I hit 30 I had this big dreaded feeling that I was behind when it came to starting a family and all the pressures that society put on women. But I have learnt that everyone’s paths are different and to enjoy all the random gifts life throws at you.