The last time we spoke, Kate Dehler announced that she was about to go full-time as an illustrator. Catching up with her a year later, we are delighted to find her in high spirits, fizzing with the excitement of new projects and inspirations. Her work, always so irresistible for its subtle textures and sunny colour palettes, has been buoyantly invested with the new “freedom” which comes with the extra time to work creatively. She explains how the “joy of drawing” is not only enriching her practice but also the way she lives: “thinking visually can be meditative and awe-inspiring, and I think it has been helping me be more present, observant, and measured in my daily life.”
Kate loves being outside at the moment. “Nature is probably the most energising thing to me right now,” she explains. She has recently moved with her wife to Austin, Texas, and has become fascinated by the landscape, “the extensive variety of shrubbery and flora,” and “the sky colours at different times of day.” We are loving the way Kate is intertwining these natural influences into the concepts for her illustrations. In her piece accompanying a Bloomberg article on how The Covid Trauma Has Changed Economics, Kate imagines old, entrenched ideas on how to manage economics, in the form of six crumbling classical columns. The flourishing of new ideas which has been sparked by the economic trauma of the Covid-19 pandemic is represented as a vivacious, and irrepressible tangle of wildlife that is quickly engulfing the crumbling tenets of pre-Covid economic theory. Another work that is buzzing with Kate’s new fascination with the natural world is her piece for The New York Times, Going For A Walk. Here, a colourful menagerie of large insects peers at a pair of walking feet. The illustration imaginatively centres a perspective on the human world that we rarely consider – that of the teeming minibeast culture at ground level.