The Illustrator's Practice: Kate Forrester
Courtesy Photo

Courtesy Photo


Kate Forrester is a freelance illustrator specialising in hand-drawn lettering and illustrated designs for packaging, publishing, advertising and other commercial applications. Selected clients include Diet Coke, Hachette, Victoria's Secret, John Lewis, Faber, Barnes and Noble and Penguin Books. When she’s not in her studio, Kate can be found pottering round Brighton with her naughty twins (usually to be found running in opposite directions), drinking too much coffee and attempting to master Muay Thai. Here she talks us through her process.

At the moment I have two work spaces set up - one in a shared space in town and one at home. For many years I worked on my own at home and in some ways, I liked the peace and solitude. But since having kids, I have found myself more and more distracted at home and my house is perpetually trashed so now I try to avoid working there as it sends me a bit doo-lally.


So mostly I am in a little studio in Brighton, near the sea, which I share with a handful of lovely, creative freelancers who keep me sane.

I have a big desk which groans under the weight of my A3 scanner, printer, Mac, daylight lamp and other junk. I also have a fairly epic collection of black pens. All my pens are black and I never ever draw in colour.


All my work is hand drawn but I always scan my drawings into Photoshop and manipulate and colour them digitally. I sketch on layout pads using Pentel rotary pencils and refine my work with Pilot fine-liners and Faber Castell or Tombow brush pens. I also have a lots of refillable brush pens and inks which I use for looser, more textured work.

Under my desk is a massive pile of scrap drawings which I have scanned and discarded - I am sorry to say that I don't keep any beautiful sketch books or precious drawers of my original illustrations, they go straight into the recycling bin!


I work for a nice variety of clients: some editorial/newspaper illustrations, lots of packaging and design work and some larger scale, interior pieces. But the majority of my work is, and always has been, designing book jackets. It is such a pleasing format to work in and no publishing house ever asks me to convert my design to vector! Adobe Illustrator is my nemesis.


I think my work is really suited to publishing because I almost always work with hand drawn lettering so I can be commissioned to design the entire cover, title, author branding and illustration as one piece. Mostly I design adult fiction book covers but I have done some YA covers, recipe books, fairy tales, all sorts...


As well as working on a few book covers, right now I am working on a big packaging project for a chocolate brand - it is all Christmas imagery and winter scenes which seems strange to be doing while the sun is shining over the sea outside!

Design Editor, Painter, Designer, Lifelong bibliophile.