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Creator of The Week: Katrina Gill

This week we’ve chosen Katrina Gill a portrait illustrator and Fashion illustration graduate hailing from and based in Kendal for our latest #CreatorOfTheWeek

The portrait artist who has featured in the OXO tower in London and has even collaborated with a fashion house has always been interested in art for as long as she can remember: “As a child, I loved drawing people and designing clothes.”

A greyscale portrait Katrina has done for a client of a young boy

The 24-year-olds passion for art continued throughout her academic career and she studied art for GCSE and A-Level.

During her A-Levels Katrina studied one of her favourite art movements, the Pre-Raphaelites which really stuck her:

“I found it fascinating how their work was dedicated to achieving what they perceived as accurate depictions of their subjects, but this was such a shocking idea during their time.”

Katrina wasn’t only inspired by the Pre-Raphaelite movement in education and remembers her favourite artist Agnes Cecile's work being a source of inspiration:

“I think that her work was a formative influence on my approach to portraiture.”

[Watercolour caption: A portrait of a woman with a dandelion crown] Audra Auclair, James Jean, Keikala and Antonio Soares are a few other names that have influenced the artwork Katrina makes today.

Katrina’s inspiration doesn’t stop just there and takes creativeness from many things like gemstones, flowers and pastel pallets. Films and songs for Katrina often spark her imagination to create.

Katrina loves to introduce flora into a lot of her portraiture illustrations that has soft pastel undertones

Katrina first got into drawing portraits whilst working on her art GCSE and in her own words ‘has been hooked ever since.’

When Katrina’s A- Levels were finished she went on to do a foundation degree in Art at Kendal College which offered her a great opportunity to explore different creative pathways.

After finishing her foundation degree Katrina headed to the London College of Fashion (LCF) to study a BA in Fashion Illustration and on reflection on her time at University she explained how illustration has always been her path:

“Illustration always just seemed to ‘stick’ the most for me, especially hand-drawn, 2D work.”

During Katrina’s time at LCF she learned a new discipline of fashion illustration without portraiture and kept her dissertation separate from illustration practice, she also chose to write about the various representations of Cleopatra in 20th-century film.

The 1963 20th century fox film ‘Cleopatra’

Katrina’s final project at LCF was influenced majorly by Sir John Everett Millais’ ‘Ophelia’ an artist from her beloved art movement of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Sir John Everett Millais ‘Ophelia’ credit: the Tate

Looking back at her degree she was enthused by the cultural and historical elements of her course which taught about the vital need for representation in the art world but in Katrina’s spare time she recalled always coming back to drawing faces.

During a degree showcase Katrina had her work featured at the OXO tower in London and looking back she’d love to collaborate with them again:

“I’d love the opportunity to exhibit work there in the future as it’s a fantastic venue which has featured the work of many great fashion illustrators and other creatives too.”

Oxo gallery at the Oxo tower in London photo credit: South Bank London

Nothing was more helpful to Katrina in nailing down her discipline than her life drawing tutor at UCL:

“They were hugely helpful in improving the flow of my portraits and helped me to see the weaknesses in my figure drawings.”

Katrina has built up a seriously creative portfolio on her Instagram and during an internship at Hermoine De Paula a London based fashion designer she produced illustrations of their designs and was even used in their lookbooks to show clients and she described the experience as ‘really cool’.

Hermione De Paula models, modelling bridal wear

Katrina, like many artists, does commissions via Instagram and was encouraged and supported by friends and family to start selling portrait commissions at the beginning of her career and has now been doing so for over a decade.

One of Katrina’s most challenging portraits was a family portrait with five subjects. The client provided photographs of five different photographs and Katrina was tasked with combining them to create the appearance of one as they had no photos of the whole family together as some had sadly passed away.

Katrina explain how executing this portrait was quite the task: “It’s challenging to link up the perspectives and adjust the light and shadows to make the connection seamless.”.

Despite this Katrina produced a stunning portrait that the client was really happy with and she was extremely proud that she was able to draw it for them.

The stunning Family portrait Katrina drew for a client

Katrina’s artistic comfort zone when producing portrait commissions is the humble pencil that she uses for greyscale and colour but still loves to experiment with other mediums:

“I have been trying out gouache a little more in recent years as I love the striking colours that can be achieved with it. I’d also like to explore using markers, and to get more familiar with creating digital art in procreate.”

Portraiture illustration is really rewarding for Katrina and helps her portray so much emotion:

“I find there’s a fantastic sense of achievement in getting a really good likeness for a face. It’s so rewarding when I get to draw portrait commissions for people who have lost pets or loved ones as it often means a lot to them, it’s an honour that people trust me with this!”

Pencils are Katrina’s comfort zone and provide depth and boldness within the portraits she draws

Katrina’s passion for illustration isn’t just restricted to portraiture either:

“I think nature is a big one for me, I like to use soft, flowing lines in my work, and I love the drippy effect of watercolours. I like to include floral elements in my drawings but I do find flowers quite tricky to draw!”

A cute drawing of a cat Katrina made alongside some flowers

More recently Katrina has been featured on the front cover of Folded, a Cumbrian based arts and culture zine that features talented young creatives in Cumbria.

Katrina’s artwork on the front cover of the fifth edition of Folded which theme is reflection

Katrina hopes in the future that between working her day job in a Jewellers she has more time to dedicate to her artwork in the nyears'ext few years. Katrina’s biggest aspiration in ten years time would be to achieve a global presence with her artwork.

When asked about what opportunities Katrina wanted to see for young creatives, she explained how there are improvements needed to be made on how artistic practice is viewed at school level locally, and probably nationally too.

She added:

“Going to art college to study a foundation degree helped me to see that there were so many other routes available to me. I think that the opportunities are definitely improving with the introduction of new collectives and creative outlets for young people, such as Folded zine, which is fantastic.”

A portrait of a dog Katrina has drawn

Some advice offered from Katrina for budding young creatives in Cumbria was: “Do your own research when thinking about what to do post-secondary school - there are so many different specialist art schools out there! Don’t be pushed into studying something you don’t feel is right for you. And it’s cliche, but keep practising, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. It really is the only way to improve!”

Two women Katrina has drawn in a sketchbook

Katrina’s commissions are closed at the moment but if you would like her to design you a portrait in the future and to see what Katrina is currently making and drawing you can find her work on: Instagram


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