Illustrator and author Katie Harnett grew up in the UK and earned a BA at the University of the West of England followed by an MA in Children's Book Illustration at Cambridge School of Art. Her work was exhibited in The Illustrators Exhibition at the Bologna Book Fair in 2012 and 2015. Katie works in a variety of mediums and is inspired by nature. Recently, she spoke about her experiences as an artist and writer.


Blasting News (BN): How did you decide to become an illustrator?

Katie Harnett (KH):I don’t think it’s something I ever decided, it just seemed like the obvious path.

I struggled choosing between an academic subject and art at a university level, but realised that whatever subject I took, I’d always be drawing anyway, so I might as well study drawing. I've always loved both art and reading so when I took my art foundation course illustration really felt like the right fit. Although I dabbled in fashion illustration, narrative illustration and storytelling really appealed to me most of all.

BN: How many books have you published?

KH:I illustrated a book called “Tras Mi Ventana” by a Spanish author Roman Belmonte which was published a few years ago and have illustrated several book covers for novels.

“Archie Snufflekins” is my first self-authored picture book to be published.

BN: How did you come up with the ideas for “Archie Snufflekins”?

KH:“Archie Snufflekins” was based roughly on a street in Cambridge where I used to see a lot of cats, alongside an experience I had where an amazing Maine Coon cat adopted my house for a while. I really liked the idea of seeing all the different people who live on a street and their different relationships with the cat.

The book went through a lot of different iterations and revisions before Flying Eye saw it so it probably took just under a year from start to finish.

BN: How did you find out about Flying Eye Books?

KH:Flying Eye are great, the process of publishing with them has been very straightforward. I have a lovely editor who keeps in touch with me about any issues or changes, and the team is always on-hand to offer support with any problems I might be having with a project.

They give me a lot of freedom to complete the artwork without much interference, which is really wonderful.


BN: What has been the most rewarding part of being an author and illustrator?

KH: Definitely seeing children interacting with my work. Although it’s really gratifying to see my peers and book reviewers enjoying my work, there’s nothing like talking to children who are really invested in the characters and story. I recently did some workshops in schools, and they had been studying “Archie Snufflekins” before I arrived and knew all of the characters’ names which was a pretty wonderful feeling.

BN:Are there any upcoming projects that you want to mention?

KH:I’m currently illustrating a book written by Jen Campbell for Thames & Hudson called "Franklin’s Flying Bookshop" and after that will be working on my second book with Flying Eye "The Lonely Raincloud." My work is also beingshown internationally and is included in upcoming exhibitions in Moscow and Beijing.

BN: Where do you hope to be in ten years?

KH: I’d hope to be still illustrating and writing, and to have a few more books under my belt. I’d quite like to have a dog too, that could sit in my studio and bring me cups of tea!

BN: What advice would you give to an aspiring author or illustrator?

KH: Some advice I was given at university which has really stuck with me is that it’s not the most talented students who succeed; it’s the people who persevere. It’s a difficult, and sometimes disheartening, business, and I think it’s really important to just keep going, even when it feels like an uphill struggle. Also keep working on your practice, because it will never stop developing.

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