Kim Longhurst is a Durban-based illustrator, artist, mother, compulsive blogger, self proclaimed magpie, and one half of bespoke design duo, The Curators. Kim invited us into her home, to peak inside her world, and told us more about her craft (and indeed why craft is so important to her).
Describe yourself in 3 words
Relentless. Maker. Mamma.
Who’s your fictional/fairytale doppelganger and why?
When I was little strangers called me Pippi Longstocking, I was a barefoot hellion and hadn’t quite grown into my freckles yet. I went through a romantic phase in my late teens as the lost muse of the Pre-Raphaelite Danté Gabriel Rosetti, now I am closer to a Hedgewitch than Boudica.
Your illustration style is whimsical without being ‘cutsie’. Please tell us a little about how you’ve developed and honed your craft over time to make your style distinct…
Oh how I wish that my style was dark and brooding but between my brain and my hand there seems to be a magic tunnel lined with unicorns that softens everything that passes through it and leaves it with a little glitter trapped in it’s eyelashes.
Seriously, I work hard at refining my technique, I love telling a story and spend a long time on each project I am given, researching and creating the backscape. Once the story is set (and it does sometimes wake me in the middle of the night to creep to the studio and write or sketch furiously) I employ the technique but in a state of highly frenetic free thought. Scott and I always quote Mark Ryden; we read ages ago that he described this state of mind as when the creative monkey pays him a visit. I just reread his artist statement which he heads Anima Mundi, The Spirit of the Universe, in which he tells of a time when a small Abraham Lincoln sat on his shoulder and softly whispered in his ear ‘Paint Meat’.
Who is the little red-haired character that pops up in much of your work?
She is my nameless alter ego. I first started drawing her as an escape from my envy of haute couture, I have an intense love of the sublime detailing of expensive clothes and as I could not afford Vivienne Westwood or Alexander McQueen I created a dress up doll who could wear anything she wanted. She evolved into a being that would tell my stories without the unicorn glitter.
You’ve said that “craft is next to godliness”. Please tell us more about what this maxim means to you and how it translates into your work…
Traditional hand work has always fascinated me, the time and endurance it requires to learn and master a skill. A skill that can then in turn be taught to another person who can add their essence to the line of tradition. Recently I have been rethinking my way of working as I have been creating work with a heavy bent towards digital and I am going to take some time off over the next couple of months to focus again on the longevity of hand work rather than the smoke and mirrors of technology.
You’ve participated in several collaborative projects, what do you enjoy about working in this way?
Some of them are for charitable causes, it is important to me to repay my blessings. They are a great way to meet people who love to do what I do and be out at nighttime. Sharing is caring.
Please tell us who The Curators are and what they do….
The Curators is a bespoke design studio consisting of typography hero Scott Robertson and illustrator Kim Longhurst. We craft identities for brands that we love, from first phase logotype to web. We work with a merry band of suppliers who are sticklers for detail just like us, who employ traditional techniques just like us and who will make your companies visual tailoring super luxe.
What’s been a career highlight thus far?
Ooh that’s a difficult question. I have a deep and abiding passion for books, so my work appearing in a book and the covers I have designed for books are precious to me.
Which female creative inspires you and why?
Marietjie Beeslaar of Skermunkil. If my pictures came to life and danced around a fire in a deep dark forest with leaves in their wild hair and all the forest creatures came out to quietly watch – that is how Marietjie’s work makes me feel.
What local trend are you excited about right now?
We are in the final stages of the renovation of our Messy Studio, which will be both the construction and exhibition space of a limited edition product range.
All images of Kim and her home by Luca Barausse