Kelly Thompson



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Kelly Thompson’s output is beautiful and ephemeral, no? It’s hardly surprising then, that she is also one of the loveliest people to spend time with, particularly if it involves cozy cups of tea, bagels, and intelligent, inspiring conversation.

The intelligent and inspiring conversation is, however, just another feather in her already full (and probably very well thought out) fascinator. She is a photographer, illustrator and art director, with a creative eye and attention to detail which ensures not only does the job get done, but the job gets done as was envisaged in that nonchalantly sexy way that made you want to work with her in the first place.

Perfect summation, that: Nonchalantly sexy. That’s Miss Kelly Thompson, the lady herself and her creative work. And I can’t think of anything more endearing than that, and neither will you if you are lucky enough to get the chance to work with her.

Words by Courtney Sanders.


FAQ'S

Where are you from? 

I was born in Rotorua, New Zealand and lived in Wellington for 10 years before moving to Melbourne where I am currently based.


Did you study at University? 

Yes I graduated with a Bachelor of Design (hons) from Massey University in Wellington.

 

Other than working as an illustrator/photographer have you had other jobs? 

Yes! I have worked as an account manager/producer at the Jacky Winter Group, Australia's top Illustration agency. I also spent time working as an illustration tutor at Massey University in Wellington and RMIT University in Melbourne. I have appeared at numerous events as a guest speaker lecturing about the design and fashion industries and regularly consult with fashion brands on creative direction. Early in my career I trained at M.A.C cosmetics as a makeup artist. After graduating I also did my fair share of retail and dabbled in styling.

 

What first piqued your interest in photography and illustration? 

I don't really feel that there was a specific moment that I became interested, from a very young age I expressed myself creatively and its hard for me to comprehend that it is possible to be any other way. When I was a child my Poppa taught me how to draw 3D houses and my brother and I would draw out city scenes and play with matchbox cars on top of them. I went through stages of drawing crazy costumes (think Poison Ivy OTT), doing "makeover' drawings where I would play for days drawing faces and erasing and redrawing their hair/features depending on if they were going on a date or having a bad day etc. As a teen I practiced imitating portraits from a book called Rembrandt to Renoir, it really always was just a part of me. I did venture in to photography during highschool as an elective and really loved it despite not being that great at it.

 

Who encouraged you to pursue illustrating as a career?

Somewhere around 2006 I quit my job to pursue Photography full time, but work was irregular so I was pretty poor. As I couldn't afford to party I started to draw and it was a flatmate who saw my work and told me that people would buy it. I didn't really believe her, but was encouraged and put together a collection of illustrations and had my first show in 2007. I sold 30 prints on opening night, so you can imagine my excitement, it was really the motivation I needed to consider illustration a little more seriously!


Can you talk about your creative process?

It varies between personal work and client work. My personal work is very much inspired by my photographs, I usually print out my reference or view it on my computer screen and sketch it up using coloured pencil. Once I am happy with the sketch I scan, and colour digitally in Photoshop before printing. My client work is very much driven by the brief and the timeline so it is very specific to the individual requirements, it is very rarely anything like my personal work as far as subject matter goes. I do a lot of visual research for client work and like to show them step by step so that they are very much part of the process, I nearly always work in pencil and then photoshop for client projects.

 

Describe your style

My illustration style is feminine, precise, clean, warm and refined

 

How did you get started in the industry and how would you recommend new photographers and illustrators get started in the fashion industry, which is, by it's nature, quite a closed-off place.

 It was really hard, I was really motivated to achieve, but had no idea how to start, so I email harassed every magazine I loved and any company I wanted to work for on a very regular basis. Unfortunately I didn't really have a portfolio so my harassment wasn't successful and I had to work retail alongside doing small photographic jobs for anyone who would have me. Eventually my hairdresser asked me to shoot some imagery which lead to more hair work, and after a while I resubmitted to Pulp Magazine and they let me do an editorial for them. I was also lucky enough to meet Amanda Betts from Red 11 Models and Talent who was willing to take a chance on me, she was also a pretty smart business woman and knew she could use my enthusiasm to her advantage! She booked me to shoot 6 girls in one day, it ended up being 22 over 2 days, we have been working together ever since, and a lot of my NZ exposure came from shooting her models.

 

What inspires you, and why?

Usually for my personal work I am inspired by models who I have photographed and the special moment when I connect with them and they suddenly seem so confident and calm with me. I find it hard to explain where my inspiration comes from, its a desire, more of a brewing sensation inside of me that I must keep working and creating and doing more. I'm afraid of stopping and not having done enough with myself. I am always inspired by overachievers, those 14year old bloggers/super stylist/ all round amazing kids kill me sometimes, but also remind me that my time is short. I'm obsessed with fashion and nature and find much inspiration in the most normal of day to day things.


What are your future plans with either photography or illustration? 

At the moment I am very focused on my clients, with strong focus on my illustration clients and I am establishing new goals and steps to help me get to where I want to be as a brand. I would really love to work with an International fashion brand and get into textiles and animation and am currently investigating International representation ( I am currently represented in Australiasia by The Jacky Winter Group).

 

 

EXHIBITIONS

SOLO

  • 2011
  •  
  • 2010
  • 2009
  •  
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • Sydney National Grid Gallery, Pyjama 
  • Party
  • Superette Auckland, Chick Habit
  • Gorker Gallery Melbourne, Bookworms 
  • Never Go to Bed Alone
  • Pixel Ink Gallery NZ, Recent Works
  • Good as Gold Wellington, Women of my Dreams

GROUP

  • 2013
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2012
  •  
  • 2010
  • 2010
  •  
  • 2010
  • 2009
  • 2009
  •  
  • 2009
  • 2009
  •  
  • 2009
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2008
  • Darkness of Noon The Department Store Auckland
  • Darkness of Noon Edmund Pearce Gallery
  • Wellington Curvy Book launch exhibition
  • Auckland The Northern Club,  
  • Kathryn Wilson Art of Shoes
  • Sydney National Grid Gallery, 22
  • Auckland Amnesty International, 
  • Article 19
  • Melbourne Gorker Gallery, Forty Thieves
  • Auckland Ruby, Paint your Heart Out
  • Auckland Tattooed Heart Gallery, 
  • Love Hurts 
  • Brisbane Frankie, Handdrawn
  • Melbourne Per Square Metre Gallery,     
  • A Tale of Two Kellys, (with Kelly Smith)
  • Gorger Gallery Melbourne, Wooden Toy
  • Sydney Curvy Exhibition
  • NZ Fashion Week Gallery
  • Manky Chops Gallery Wellington

PUBLICATIONS/AWARDS

  • 2013
  • 2013
  • 2013
  • 2011 
  •  
  • 2010
  •  
  • 2010
  •  
  • 2010
  • 2010
  • 2009
  •  
  • 2009
  • 2008
  • 2007
  • Pride in Print Gold Award winner
  • The Purple Book, Lawrence King Press
  • Darkness of Noon, Pearce Press
  • Hand Made Illustration, 
  • Monsa Publications
  • Trendy Fashion Illustrators, 
  • Monsa Publications
  • This is Fashion Illustration, 
  • Monsa Publications
  • The Beautiful, Gestalten Books
  • Curvy Book
  • Wooden Toy Quarterly, 
  • Handmade Edition
  • Curvy Book, feature artist
  • Curvy Book
  • Curvy Book

GUEST APPEARANCES

  • 2013
  • 2013
  • 2013
  • 2012
  • 2012
  •  
  • 2012
  • 2012
  •  
  • 2012
  • 2011
  • 2011
  • 2011
  •  
  • 2011
  • 2010
  • 2010
  • Semi Permanent guest speaker Auckland
  • RMIT Melbourne guest Lecturer
  • Nintendo Masterclass host
  • Guest Speaker at Billy Blue College of Design
  • JASU campaign featured Stylemaker 
  • www.Jasu.com
  • Nintendo New Art Academy Ambassador.
  • Always Sometimes Anytime NZFW 
  • guest blogger
  • RMIT Melbourne guest lecturer
  • The Loop Portfolio Masterclass mentor
  • Semi Permanent guest speaker Sydney
  • Semi Permanent guest speaker 
  • Melbourne
  • Semi Permanent guest speaker Brisbane
  • Fashion Palette guest speaker Sydney
  • UCOL guest speaker Wanganui NZ

CLIENTS (include, but are not limited to) 

  • Escada 
  • Glassons NZ
  • The London Sunday Times
  • Nintendo
  • Penguin Books
  • Covergirl
  • Grey Melbourne
  • Grey Paris
  • The Australian Ballet
  • Saatchi & Saatchi
  • Women's Health Magazine NYC
  • Sportsgirl
  • Mimco
  • Geometry NYC
  • Fashion Quarterly
  • Telecom NZ
  • Global Plus
  • Readers Digest
  • Sugar
  • Red Eleven Models
  • WWF
  • Paddington Alive Festival
  • Fitted for Work
  • Peppermint Magazine
  • Rook Clothing
  • 1am Magazine
  • Ashley Fogel
  • Dr Jucre Korea
  • D_Luxe Jewellery
  • Fused Magazine
  • Good as Gold
  • Hachette Publishing
  • Juliette Hogan
  • Ruby Boutique
  • 27 Names
  • JASU.com.au

  

  • Fashion Quarterly Magazine
  • Showroom 22
  • Catalogue Magazine
  • Karen Magazine
  • Lela Jacobs
  • Live Nude Girls Lingerie
  • Lonely Hearts
  • Mindfood Magazine
  • Monza recycled paper
  • NZ Opera
  • Pulp Magazine
  • Remix Magazine
  • Area Magazine
  • Spicers Paper
  • T.A.C
  • Hitched Magazine
  • Little White Lies Magazine

 

XXX