South London-based artist and freelance print designer Kelly Anna kicked off her career as a fashion illustrator. “I was asked to live illustrate front row at the catwalks,” she tells It’s Nice That. “I did this for five seasons while studying fashion illustration at university. Working through fashion week really got me interested in the actual product, and after university I landed a job in print for Illustrated People, a print design company in east London. While there, I shortly became head of print which led to having the pleasure of seeing some incredible names wear my prints — Beyoncé, Cara Delevingne, Foals, London Grammar…” All of which led Kelly to where she is now, creating print design and graphics for the likes of Nike, Stella McCartney, Farfetch X Tate VIP and Refinery29.
When asked to describe the design aesthetic across her work, Kelly Anna told us that “in one sentence, I would say vibrant colour palettes and bold graphics, mixed with fluid mark-making and abstract collage. I am not sure how my work binds together, I’m not even sure it does! My work has a habit of jumping from fluid lines to strong graphic shapes, but I let it — this versatility and explorative nature has got me to the place I am today. A really fun place.”
Her Instagram page is evidence of this, a punchy blend of dominant black female figures and sunshine colours, the influence of Matisse and Hockney arching across it. “Matisse and Hockney were dotted around the house whilst growing up so I think that’s stuck with me,” the illustrator explains. “Matisse I can relate to because he too loved to explore different mediums, from his paper collage to self-portrait paintings. My father is an artist himself, and has been a massive part of my progression, he always challenged me to never be afraid of clashing colour and so often encouraged it. I’m glad he did. Cubism has always been a starting point too, I think a lot of my work is influenced by this movement. I’ve always particularly loved Patrick Henry Bruce and Fernard Leger.”
Look out for more exciting projects coming up for Kelly, including a special print workshop event for International Women’s Day on the 8 March with Women Who.