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Enliven Brighton Art Trail: Meet the artist, Kate Forrester

Brilliant Brighton (a not-for-profit organisation formed of 517 of your favourite city centre stores, cafes, salons, restaurants and bars) has teamed up with Brighton cultural organisations, artists and creatives from the ABCD Cultural Recovery Plan to showcase Brighton’s vibrant art scene with a colourful art trail with work by local artists encompassing walls, bus stops, lampposts and street furniture throughout Brilliant Brighton, under the theme ‘community and kindness’.

We meet one artist whose works feature on planters, as part of the Enliven Brighton Art Trail: Kate Forrester.

Kate is a local illustrator and hand-lettering artist who graduated from Brighton University in 2005. Since then she has developed her distinct style of intricate words, interwoven with detailed, dynamic illustrations and has worked with a diverse range of clients all over the world.

She is known in the industry for her joyful, vibrant illustration which is regularly commissioned for book covers, packaging and advertising but her work can also be seen in the form of giant murals, painted faces, HGVs, ping pong paddles, billboard posters and much more besides. We’re delighted that Kate has been commissioned for the trail.

Find out more about Kate’s creative process, her work and how Brighton inspires her.

Hi Kate, how long have you lived in Brighton?

Off and on for 20 years.

How did you become an artist?

I actually studied Illustration at Brighton University which is what first brought me to the city. After uni I did various things and travelled quite a bit but quickly started freelancing in illustration. The first trickle of work gathered momentum and I loved the collaborative process of working on briefs with designers and other creatives. Now I work mainly in publishing and packaging but my work can also be seen in the form of giant murals, painted faces, HGVs, ping pong paddles, billboard posters and much more besides.

Can you tell us a little about the process behind your work?

My work always starts as a hand drawn piece and I often combine illustration with hand lettering too. I draw with ink, brush pens and fine liners and scan my drawings in to colour them digitally in Photoshop.

Where do you work from?

A shared studio near Preston Park.

Image by Bip Mistry

What was the inspiration behind your work for the Enliven Brighton Art Trail?

I took the theme of ‘Community & Kindness’ from the perspective of our new appreciation for socialising and rebuilding connections in ways which were off limits during lock down.

I was intending to make each design a nod to our 5 senses but was limited by time so there are three senses represented – Taste, touch and sound.

Touch is represented by my interpretation of the sea swimming community which has bloomed during the pandemic – nothing makes you feel more alive than an icy dunk in the sea at sunrise!

Taste is an ode to Brighton food and it’s importance to our city and the way we socialise. Just watch out for the thieving seagull!

Sound , the third sense represented is music and the joy it brings to our streets, how it unites a crowd of strangers…

How did it feel to know your work had been put forward for the trail?

I was delighted! My clients are often in other parts of the country or abroad so it feels doubly special to work in my home town and for my friends and family to see my illustrations in the flesh.

Does living in Brighton inspire your work at all?

Absolutely – it I find this city a huge source of inspiration.

What do you enjoy most about being an artist?

Freedom, diversity and the life-long quest for inspiration.

Finally… what do love most about living in Brilliant Brighton?

The sea. The sense of space and calm it brings to this bustling city. It’s an obvious one but it gives makes me very happy.

See Kate’s work as part as the Enliven Brighton Art Trail, with planters on North Street, and on Instagram: @kateforresteruk.