Katie Chappell Illustrator and Designer Headshots

Tell us in one sentence what you do?

I get paid to draw pictures and colour in / i'm an illustrator and designer.

Which part of your job do you feel most passionate about?

I feel most passionate about being able to communicate through illustration. One of the most satisfying feelings is taking a solid chunk of text, and being able to inject life and meaning into it by providing pictures that people can 'read' at a glance. It's the best kind of problem solving. Recently I collaborated with the Science Central team at Newcastle University to illustrate a brochure about Newcastle upon Tyne being a future smart city, and it was wonderful to be able to see those ideas translated into images.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in business so far?

The most important lesson that I have learned in business (and life!?) so far is that you are never stuck unless you decide to be. This applies to everything - finding inspiration, feeling stuck geographically, financially or emotionally.  Also, I find that as creatives we can be predisposed to feeling that our work is not worth that much or that we shouldn't earn as much as other professionals, and overcoming that feeling is so important in feeling confident in your abilities and career and creating a sustainable business practice. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in your industry?

Get your work out there! Working for free is a highly controversial subject, especially in the creative industries, however those first few live briefs that I entered into magazines such as Amelia's Magazine and various blogs really helped me get my name out there. Sharing work online and having a professional online social media presence have also been key factors in attracting work. Starting to produce work for live briefs while you are still studying is a great way to get a head start and really push yourself creatively. If you can balance university coursework and real live briefs then that will stand you in good stead for the real world when you have several projects on the go at once. 

What is the best feedback you have ever had from a client?

Agh! I have a terrible memory. However, I recently got an email that said "you've done a great job of these, Katie" and that's good enough for me. Feeling like I've done a good job and knowing that the client agrees is one of the best results to hope for.



Who do you admire most in the world and why?

I admire a lot of people and it's really difficult to choose just one. I do love the work of spoken word artist Kate Tempest, however, and I think she gives out really good energy as an artist. The world needs more people like that, people who can wake everyone up and make them rethink what they are doing and how we are as a community/nation/planet.

Do you have a favourite quote that you turn to for inspiration?

"Whatever you are, be a good one" -Abraham Lincoln. 



What drives you forward more than anything else?

I love the freedom that being self-employed gives me, and being able to travel and still produce work is something that I value greatly. At the moment I am splitting my time between Berlin in Germany, and my hometown of Berwick upon Tweed in Northumberland. The knowledge that working freelance allows me to travel drives me forward and keeps me motivated. Even when I eventually settle down I hope to keep traveling regularly.  

What is the biggest challenge you face in business?

My biggest challenge in business so far has been balancing the quiet times with the busy times. There are sometimes relatively long stretches where I have no projects coming up and I am only working on the bare minimum. I've learnt that it's wise to have some security savings stashed away, and to make the first connection with potential clients. Sometimes the work won't just come to you and you have to go out there and ask for it and let people know who you are and what you do. I've taken on part-time jobs in the past to help with paying the rent and bringing in the 'bread and butter money' and that brings a new challenge in itself. Finding the space and time to be creative when you are working in a non-creative job can be exhausting! I feel very very lucky to be working solely on illustration and design at the moment. 

What does a typical workday look like for you?

A typical workday for me starts at around 8am. I'll get up, make coffee and sit down to work straight away (usually still in my pyjamas). For the past 2 years I have been working with Megan Claire, a personalised card company, and I will do any orders from them before I have breakfast. After breakfast I get ready and cycle to the studio where I will work on whatever projects I have happening at that moment. When I am traveling or living in Berlin my routine doesn't change much. I definitely don't work as many hours while I am traveling and when i'm in Berlin I spend a lot more time cycling around the huge city. Going to Yo Illo meet ups with fellow english-speaking illustrators in Berlin really helped me to network and meet like-minded people. Berlin is massive and I've been amazed at how much more effort it takes to meet new people there and maintain connections. It's a far cry from the tiny town I grew up in. 

If you would like to learn more about Katie's work you can visit her website HERE.

Carol from SPEAK's Profile Portaits

Archive Post

Carol and I met at a wedding fayre in Kelso earlier this year, I was fascinated by her zesty stand which featured a massive bowl of fresh, bright lemons.  Her stand was for SPEAK which offers professional workshops for individuals (including best men, fathers of the bride and grooms!) who want or need to successfully present themselves.

I chose to attend one of the workshops myself as public speaking is something I have had trouble with. This might seem rather strange to those of you who have attended a wedding I've photographed as you will know that I don't have any problem in standing up to direct a group of 200+ wedding guests into a group.  I guess it only overcomes me during 'set' presentations,  I think it all started at university - I'd stand up to do a talk and my knees would start to wobble, this would then move up my body to my hands, shaking the notes, eventually even my jaw would start to shake making my voice wobble, REAL,L,L,Y emb,arr,ass,ing, agggh!

Carol was brilliant, her experience and knowledge shines - she taught me how to express my ideas and to give information in a really clear way.  I'm actually looking forward to putting my new techniques and presentation into practice, something I thought I'd NEVER again want to do.

Here are some photographs from a portrait shoot Carol commissioned, the photographs will be used for advertising and promotion for the new SPEAK website and in publications featuring SPEAK.

Carol said:
"Dear Sarah, Thank-you, You take a good photo whether indoors or out, even though I was tired on the day, you capture my animated enthusiasm in a 'thoughtful' context.  You have real talent and wonderful eye."

Thank you Carol :)

Do you have trouble talking in public?  Visit for more information on the workshops with Carol, I'm highly recommending them (incase you hadn't realised).