Interview - Kate Banazi

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
7th of January 2011
Prints by Kate Banazi!  Some are for sale in her online shop!
Kate sometimes collaborates with photographers, printing over their work.  The top right pic here is based on a photograph taken by Kate's husband Alistair Guthrie.
All artwork by Kate Banazi

You better get used to Kate Banazi.  She's here today, she's on the Guest Blog all next week, and shes even got a fantastic giveaway lined up for you guys next Friday. Yep, it's ALL ABOUT Kate Banazi on The Design Files this month!

LUCKILY Kate is not only super talented and awfully nice, she's also hilariously funny.  We've exchanged 19 emails in the last 4 days, and somehow it already feel like we're old mates.  She is just so fun and friendly and entertaining!

eg -

Me emailing Kate, on Monday -

...Hope you are not too Design Filed out already :)

Kate replies -

Hello! I'm sick of you and your design files stuff. No, it's been great sitting in front of the computer answering questions about ME!

There was also much hilarious banter about her son Milan (aka Moofus) - a 13yr old illustrator extraordinaire whose work has been commissioned by Dwell Magazine amongst other clients!   'Moofus is ok I suppose' says Kate.

Anywaaayyy I suppose I better make an effort at some kind of formal introduction.  Here goes!

Kate Banazi is a London-born, Sydney-based artist, illustrator and silk screen expert!  She's made artwork for some pretty important people like Vodafone, Telstra, Meanjin, ACP Magazines and many others!  Her work is truly unique - layered full of bold colour and buzzing patterns and photographs and ENERGY - it just jumps off the page!

You can always tell if someone if awesome by the people they hang out with.  Kate counts Marcela Restrepo as one of her besties, so that makes her instantly awesome. Kat Macleod also speaks very highly of Kate B, as the pair collaborated on prints for Kat's last show at Lamington Drive. (Kate also sweetly printed Kat's wedding invites last year, which were, like, TOTALLY AMAZING.)

Like all the greatest illustrators in the land, Kate Banazi is represented commercially by The Jacky Winter Group. She also has a blog you should definitely check out. AND DON'T FORGET to see what Kate has to share next week when she kicks things off on the Guest Blog!

Tell us a little about your background – what career path has led you to what you’re doing now? I studied menswear at Central St Martins, which I loved, and spent a few years after designing, freelancing and collaborating, generally enjoying myself. After my son Milan was born, I had more of a focus to the direction I had to go in, veered to illustration whilst working as studio assistant to my friend Kate Gibb, who is a screenprinting genius and the best friend anyone could ask for.

Where might we have seen your work in the past, and what are you working on at the moment?

It's been quite varied - so from clothes rails and boutique hotel uniforms, to magazines, the odd music videos (literally, some of them were rather odd). Since I’ve moved to Australia from London, I really started from scratch again, but was kindly taken into the warm embrace of the Jacky Winter bosom, so predominantly US and Australian editorial through them.

I’ve also helped the lovely Kat Macleod screenprint her beautiful large formats for her solo show at Lamington drive last year, and Karl and Craig of Rinzen produce theirs for their show at Monster Children. So much fun, and hugely inspiring people to work with, it was an honour.

Right now, I’m working on a superb personal project with Marcela Restrepo (Draw harder Marce! Draw harder!), a couple of large format commissioned screenprints for private clients in the UK, a project for Westmead Childrens Hospital plus possibly the hardest one, preparing for guest posting for you next week! AAGH!

How would you describe your design / illustration aesthetic?

Graphic, layered, textured and often colourful.

What does a typical day at work involve for you? I walk our dog, Stanley, and then go for a swim before I start work. Loving food the way that I do, I need to walk the dog a little faster and swim a little less leisurely for 2011, I think.

Swimming makes me smile, not like running which makes me grimace. There has been a couple of times in the morning where I've been running but it was an accident.

I usually have at least a couple of things going on at work at the same time, so it keeps everything pretty fresh, although deadlines are sometimes mental (final artwork? oh, I need it for tomorrow, is that a problem?), especially when I try and keep everything ‘analogue’ and truly screenprinted.

New jobs come in and I do roughs for them, then once approval is given I create the films, coat and expose the screens and then start printing.

I mix my own ink, expose and strip my own screens and prepare my own films for anything under A2. Being involved fully in the process from beginning to end, which is quite labour intensive, gives me a fuller understanding of the end result, although the nature of the beast is that it’s full of surprises that can bite you on the bum. Sometimes in a perversely pleasurable way.....

My studio is in my neighbour Andrew’s house, which proved to create no end of street gossip when I started shifting my gear in there from home. It also means I can work late, at weekends or go back to work after dinner if I need to, so it’s perfect.

I have to say I love my work, so going in on a Sunday to strip screens, or clean up, is no great chore, especially when I can smell Milan and Alistair making my lunch for me next door!

Kate's workspace
Kate's desk
Colourful details from Kate's studio
Your son Milan (aka Moofus) has a bit of a cult following of his own these days…! How did Milan’s internet stardom come about? Is he inspired by you a little, or is he more like ‘Muuuumm you are so annoying leave me alone I am busy making my own art and being an internet sensation’?

At present he swings to the latter. As he’s coming up to 14 years old, there’s been (cough) a few other things that have been turning his head recently, so drawing is currently taking a bit of a back seat.

I don’t know how it all happened but it started after he wanted to raise some money for the International Animal Rescue and then it did go a bit bonkers after Deanne Cheuk and then Lost at E Minor picked up his drawings, snowballed to him working with Dwell Magazine and FBi Radio and last month he worked with the Greater Sydney Partnership.

I’m very proud of how hard he’s worked.

I think he was taken aback by how supportive and constructive people he’s never met can be, plus, he’s seen a very positive side to the internet as a community where much of the time people of his age are being warned of its negativity.

Illustrations by Kate's son Milan (aka Moofus) - available to purchase here.

Where do you turn for creative inspiration – your environment, books, magazines, the internet, travel, nature, family or friends… etc?

My family and friends and surrounding environment are a huge influence, as of course is my emotional state. Light/darkness and colour play a strong role, but more often than not it’s physically working through an idea to get to an unexpected finish that provides the biggest learning curve, which for me is often as important as being happy with an end piece of artwork.

On the internet, amongst many many others, these are my guaranteed dailies....

Amy Henderson Sandi Vincent Julian (NSFW...he’ll have a giggle over that) Dana Hughes

Digital Downloadable Christmas Trees by Kate Banazi (available here)

Which other designers or creative people do you admire?

So many, so I’ll stick with a bit of ‘close to home’...

My Mother Alistair (my husband) My cousin Troy Kate Gibb Zakee Shariff Marcela Restrepo Matt Huynh Heath Killen Kat Macleod W$YK Karl Maier Chris Searl The Jacky Winter Group as a whole are a marvelous bunch of people. My friends from college Barbara and Grace always produce work to knock your socks or even more, off. What would be your dream project? This week, it’d be prints for Romance is Born or working for the Sydney Theatre Company, or Jimi Hendrix' stage garb (could be a stretch, that one). Failing that, onboard screenprinter and painter for the International Space Station. Especially if a new one’s built that looks like the one in Silent Running. What are you looking forward to? Every evening conversation at the family dinner table. And running around Sydney for the Sydney Festival with Marcela, looking at the beautiful work she created all over the city. Top stuff!

Sydney Questions –

Complete the following sentence - “I live in Sydney instead of London...." "...because my heart turned a somersault.” Your favourite Sydney neighbourhood and why? I have to say my own because it’s the one I know the best, Lilyfield. What I love about living in Sydney is that you still have individual shops, and every one knows your name. Coming from London where the local shops like that are closing down, that’s pretty special. I can go swimming every morning in an outdoor olympic size pool near my house and not go blue with cold. That may have more to do with climate rather than neighbourhood but let’s not be pedantic. I love how central it is, but still so green, 10 minutes walk to Callan Park or 10 minutes drive to Circular Quay. I live vicariously through and am looking forward to reading the hard copy book. Where do you shop in Sydney for the tools of your trade? I get all my screenprinting equipment from the fine family firm of Peter Leis in Leichhardt. They’ve become really good friends and I love them dearly. I would be more than a little lost without them. I could lose days in the second hand bookshops in Newtown and I pick up most of my drafting and drawing supplies from my local newsagent who buys in bulk for me. And thanks to Karl who gave me the best local paper shop. Where / what was the last great meal you ate in Sydney? Last night, at my next door neighbour Kelley’s house.  On our street we’re all pretty friendly and have keys for one anothers places. It's a bit odd to come home from work to find someone else’s child going through your fridge saying ‘Dad sent me down to see if you had any spare milk’. But it’s happened (Admittedly, that was our son in someone else’s fridge).  Shame no one secretly comes in and does the cleaning. Sydney’s best kept secret? My balcony at work.... possums, kookaburras a blue tongue lizard and a great view of the city. Amazing, still feels like I’m on holiday..... and a long way from Kilburn High Road.

Similar Stories

Recent Illustration