Katie Duffett

By Kate Marsden

We’re heading to Stevenage this week to chat with illustrator Katie Duffett. Katie’s wonderfully detailed images of buildings, and lots more besides, grace cards, prints and even children’s books. Read on to head about her very busy schedule, love of gardening and also shopping small!

Tell us a little about you. What do you do?

I’m Katie and I am an illustrator. I’ve always loved drawing so I studied Graphic Design and Illustration at De Montfort University. I carried on freelancing as a graphic designer after uni but really missed illustration so switched to that instead.

I started selling prints, cards and a children’s book on Etsy and my illustration business took off from there. I’d describe my style as quite loose but very detailed. A lot of my work is commission based which includes a lot of personalised wedding venue and new home prints with the odd children’s book thrown into the mix too.

What does a typical day involve?

A typical weekday starts quite early! As well as my illustration business, I work full time as an in-house graphic designer so I juggle my business around my day job. I work 7.30am-3.30pm then when I get home the workday starts again! But I do have a quick break first by pottering about in the garden. I’ll begin with packaging up orders and go to the post office then come back and do some admin, go through my emails and respond to customers/clients. Once this is done, I’ll sit down at my desk and get to work on my latest project which could be a commission or a personal drawing. I try and fit in an evening exercise class too!

Where do you work? What is your studio space like? What do you enjoy doing when you're not working?

My studio is actually in my home so I’m never too far away from my desk. The walls are full of prints by my friends and other illustrators so this keeps me inspired and motivated.

There are some disadvantages to working from home though as I love gardening and if the sun’s out I’ll get distracted and go outside! When I’m not working or gardening I like to spend my free time cooking, going to concerts and spending time with friends and family.

What do you consider to be the main challenges facing designer makers at the moment?

It can be challenging to get noticed when you’re competing with lots of other brilliant makers. Pricing is also a challenge when there are big companies that can offer prints and cards at a very low cost which can be attractive to customers. Time management can be hard sometimes as a lot of makers I know (like myself) are juggling a full time job whilst trying to grow their business, it can be challenging finding the right balance.

What ambitions do you have for your business over the next few years?

I’ve been lucky so far in that each year has been more successful than the last. I’ve seen a big rise in the number of building commissions and I hope this continues as I love drawing shops, houses and churches. I’ve recently started up a collective with two friends I went to university with, and we will be holding our first exhibition later on in the year which I’m really excited about. I’ve just finished working on a card range with one of them too.   

Do you have any tips for fellow designer makers/small business owners who are reading this and may be just starting out?

Hard work pays off, don’t feel disheartened if you don’t make many sales straight away, just keep promoting yourself and eventually it will happen.  

Please share any favourite independent shops/galleries and tell us why you like them.

My favourite local independent shop is Seasons Interiors on Stevenage High Street. I love wandering down to the High Street and having a browse in there, it’s full of lovely home accessories and I want to buy everything in there!

I also love the work of the two friends I’m in a collective with; Chloe Hall and The Paper Creative (Sarah Glover). Chloe specialises in surface pattern and creates beautiful botanical inspired artwork. The Paper Creative is a children’s illustrator and sells a range of cards and gifts which are perfect for families, her drawings are gorgeous and full of detail. My house is full of their prints!

Had you realised the Just A Card campaign message suggests cards as an example of a small purchase - we're about encouraging all sales as they keep businesses afloat

When I first heard of the Just A Card campaign I thought it was a brilliant idea, the message is so clear and highlights how important any sale is to a small business to stay open.

How important is the Just A Card campaign message to you and your business?

Not everyone realises the cost of making a product and it all adds up once you take into consideration the price of materials, printing, packaging, exposure etc. One sale can make all the difference and it’s such a great feeling to know that somebody has enjoyed my artwork as much as I have enjoyed creating it.

Where did you hear about the campaign and which Social Media platforms do you use most frequently? What do you think people can do to support Just A Card, and how will you be doing so?

A friend introduced me to the Just a Card campaign. The campaign really highlighted to me the importance of using independent and small shops so I try to do that to support other makers and small business owners.

I’d say the social media platform I use most frequently for my business is Instagram, although I do get carried away posting pictures of flowers too. I think Instagram is the best marketing tool as it’s so easy to find makers through hashtags and there’s a great community of makers and designers on there.