Australian artist Kerry Thompson shares her excitement about being an artist and her story of success.
ABI: You create a charming and delightful portfolio of art. How many ways do you sell your work?
KT: Thank you! People contact me to purchase work when they have seen the paintings on my website or when I put paintings on Facebook or Twitter from time to time with a bit of a story. I am invited to contribute works to several fundraising School Art Shows annually, have my work on the Art Pharmacy website and the Colour in Your Life website.
I’ve also set up stands at major Art market events (e.g. Art Sydney), have had works on commission with a number of commercial galleries, set up my own pop-up gallery, and participate in Art Fairs. People who have seen the work in various places have contacted me to do commissioned pieces.
I sometimes mount my own exhibitions in various gallery spaces including at St Vincent’s Hospital or Sydney Children’s Hospital. I like to try lots of different approaches to let paintings and people meet up!
ABI: Tell us about illustrating children’s books. Is this a primary part of your business?
KT: Under my nom de plume, Kerry Millard, I have been a cartoonist since 1986. In about 1990, I took illustration samples to a number of children’s book publishers. I began to illustrate (and write) books in 1991 and to date have been involved with 33, published in about 25 countries. Pretty lovely!
Illustration is a large part of my work at present. I am working on the Wilderness Fairies series by Jodie Wells-Slowgrove for Penguin, which requires a hugely satisfying mix of fantasy and research and accuracy as the stories are set in authentic Australian bush.
Perhaps most unexpectedly exciting, though, was illustrating “Nim’s Island” by Wendy Orr, which was then turned into a major feature film starring Abigail Breslin, Gerard Butler and Jodie Foster. I hired a little shack on the water where I drew the nautical illustrations. Then Wendy and I were invited to be on the movie set for three days of filming which was very, VERY exciting!
ABI: What was the experience like being featured on Colour In Your Life? What has happened for your business as a result?
KT: Graeme Stevenson is the most generous interviewer! He is highly accomplished himself as an artist, but still approaches each new interviewee with genuine joy and admiration and curiosity about their practice. It was wonderful chatting with him, but hard remembering to keep painting while thinking about and answering his questions!
I sold the painting which I made on the show to a teacher whose class watched the episode, and the show continues to introduce people to my work. Absolutely the most pleasure I get from having been on the show is the number of times I am contacted by people who have watched the episode and have been inspired to go out and get paints!
There have been some gorgeous stories of people who had completely lost heart but are excited now to have a go without fear. Most recently was a kindergarten teacher who watched the episode with her kids, then made their own works based on my antics, turning their canvases upside down and all. Brilliant! I’ve even been invited to run workshops to help loosen people up in their own practice. I love how people take it further in their own way after seeing the episode.