‘I am quite a quirky person, a crazy person’

by ANTONY CLAY

Artist Katy Harmston. 184543-16

ARTIST Katy Harmston’s paintings are all about her love of colour and light.

But the Treeton 30-year-old also has a business sense and knows how to get her creations out there.

Surprisingly she has only returned to creating art in a determined way after years of keeping her talents on the back burner.

Indeed, she even questioned her creative abilities at one stage.

But now there is growing interest in her colourful and idiosyncratic pieces.

She was first inspired towards art by her granddad, Peter Harmston, who painted all his life.

Katy said: “He was a painter but I was terrible at painting when I was younger.

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“He just taught me the basics and I went to school and I did art. I was good at it but could never draw people or anything realistic.”

Katy then went to university and studied Film Production in which there was an animation element.

She said: “I still liked to draw but I didn’t do it any longer.

“I went to work for a production company in London but then came home for six months and I just started drawing again.

“My drawings at first were not what I do now but I got better.

“I was just a bit bored. I had come home after being away for a while so my life had changed. I just got a bit bored and started drawing again. Then I just got better and better.”

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Katy said that during this time she also started doing art in a variety of mediums to see what suited her style.

Katy said: “I drew a picture for my brother of my nephew and that came out really well. That was the point that I thought I could do something with it.”

It had taken Katy a year to get to that stage of feeling confident enough to make the next move.

She said: “It’s kind of gone on from there.”

Katy currently works as a senior administrator and clinical trials officer in the Clinical Testing department of Sheffield University, but certainly has an eye to taking up the art life full-time.

She received acclaim for a drawing of Hollywood star The Rock which she placed on Instagram, which the actor himself praised.

Her move towards painting happened because she began developing a problem with her wrist from using pencils for such long periods of time.

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Katy said: “The doctor said I should do something more free flowing because each drawing took 60 hours. So I tried oils.

“I decided to try and do a different method instead of coloured pencils.”

From that point on she has done a lot of painting and “got to a good point with that”.

Early paintings included a chimp which she attempted three times to develop her technique.

But Katy said that carefully planning out her creations is not for her.

She said: “Pre-planning can be your worst choice sometimes. You get up in a morning with a plan to go out for the day but don’t want to really do it. Spontaneity for life.

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“I am quite a quirky person, a crazy person.”

As well as painting, Katy continues to create illustrations because she loves drawing and uses a tablet to achieve her aims.

Her illustrations have been placed on tee-shirts, cards and wrapping paper and are available via the Freaky Geek website which she set up with business partner Daniel Horsham to sell her wares.

Katy also has a Youtube channel on beauty and DIY, though in recent times this has not been updated because she is busy doing other things.

A lot of her work gets shared on Instagram and Facebook and now people can buy her prints and merchandise.

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This summer she had a stall at the Rotherham Show which she said worked well for her.

Katy said: “It was the first show I had done. It never really occurred to me to do a show before.

“The whole art journey was not planned but it grew.”

Inspired in particular by artists Katy Jade Dobson and Bob Oxley, Katy said she had a particular interest in creative artworks focussing on animals.

She said: “A lot of the work is very colourful and animal-based.

“I started doing animals because I like nature and animals have a sense of freedom and vulnerability to them which is quite endearing.

“Most people who see my work say it’s the eyes that get noticed first.

“I love detail and I like things to look realistic, but I also like to be abstract.”

She said that she likes to create detailed faces on her subjects only to become more abstract as she moves outwards.

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But Katy knows that an artist needs to be commercial to make a living.

Katy said: “The artwork needs to be beneficial for the customer to want to pay.

“You have to be realistic.

“You need to pick an area that you really like doing.

“You cannot train yourself to do something just to make what people want to buy. You need to be true to yourself because you have got to enjoy it.

“It’s about being individual.

“I like anything creative.

“I am more the creative person but if you want to be creative you have to sort out the business as well.

“In ten years time I hope that Freaky Geek has moved on because I think it’s something very different to what you see on the market.

“I would hope that Freaky Geek was maybe in some boutique but we don’t want to make them so commercial so I would not necessarily want to have a shop.

“The idea is that they are a bit unique.

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“I am fifty-fifty with galleries. Part of me thinks the way forward is being online and doing shows whereas galleries overprice works of art.”

Katy is also revamping her own website at http://www.katyharmston.com to highlight her artwork.

All in all it is a busy time for a young artist with her own vision for the future.

As she said: “It’s all about the journey.”

You can find out more about Katy;s work at http://www.katyharmston.com and http://www.freakygeek.co.uk.

She also has a Facebook page Katy Harmston Art and can be found on Instagram @katyelharmston

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