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A Sense Of Place.

Updated: Apr 2

Feral interview with Louise Kirby

Louise in front of her new mural at ScrapAntic, Dundee

What area/field are you in?

Hello! I’m a designer of print and surface design that is applied to a range of applications - from murals, products, vehicles, textiles, cards, the list is endless……  I create print design that capture a sense of place and bring the positives into focus to connect people to the world around them.

Describe in as many ways as you like what you do. Tell me all your job titles. 

Designer.  Illustrator. Surface Pattern Designer.  Printed Textile Designer.  Print Designer.  Visual Explorer.  Artist. Creative.  Creative Learning Facilitator. Creative Workshop Leader.  Coordinator and Project Manager.  

What is the biggest eye roll you’ve given a question or comment about being a freelancer? Or what would you like waged people to understand about working as a freelancer?

Them - “We’d love you to creative this X”, 

Me - “Brilliant that sounds like a great project, what budget have you allocated for this?” 

Them - “nothing, it would be great for promoting yourself”

I get annoyed as people don’t realise the amount of time it takes to do the research/development/designs.  I’m a professional designer of 20+ years in the industry and believe my skills and creativity adds value and should be paid for. 

What’s your favourite part of being a freelancer?

I like to be free to choose projects that excite and challenge me.

I love being part of the V&A Dundee Learning Team as a freelancer, it’s great engaging with schools and families to encourage creativity and creative thinking.  I work alongside other designers from different disciplines and get out of the studio and see real people!

What is the hardest part?

Getting the work life balance right, it can be difficult to stop and switch off when there is deadlines.  I need to physically go on holiday to take proper time off.

How long have you been feral?

Since 2001 I moved back to Dundee and continued my relationship with the London textile design studio I work in house for and freelanced for them.

"so you’re responsible for bringing joy to the area"

What have your highlights been? (Take a moment to have a brag about your accomplishments)

I loved working to a huge scale.  I created the giant mural for Anthropologie on George Street in Edinburgh, it was a real thrill to do it live on the street and translate my wee sketch to a 30ft mural. You can see the video of me in action here  - 

I’m loving creating work that is meaningful and improving people’s lives in particular the commission to improve interior spaces for Sheltered Housing Units in Perth and Pitlochry, enhancing the space and creating wayfinding design solutions, you can read more about the individual units:

I’m loving creating bright colourful and joyful murals.  I’ve just finished this one and it has really brightened up the area and added vibrancy and a passer-by said to me ‘so you’re responsible for bringing joy to the area”

My Dundee Delights collection has been popular selling in local shops.  I love my latest Law of Nature print. You can see it here -

I like being part of the Wild in Art trails as they accessible to everyone and encourage people to be outside to explore their local area. You can see more about them here.

Maggies Penguin Parade –

I’ve got a collaboration in the pipeline that I’m keeping under wraps just now but I’m looking forward to applying my designs in a new context and scaling up.

Why did you decide to become self-employed?

It wasn’t a decision it just happened, it was a natural progression from working in-house for the textiles design studio to freelancing for them.

How do you protect your work time from distractions? 

Planning the day before is really helpful to know what I’m doing the next day so I can just get on with it. 

Where do you work? home?studio?/favourite cafe/all of the above?

I work from my Wasps studio at Meadow Mill in Dundee, a lovely converted Jute mill, I’m up on the top floor so have great views of the rooftops over the city.  I also like to use my kitchen table in the evening as some of my most creative ideas happen there when I’m just playing.

Do you think you’ll ever retire?

Yes and No, it would be nice not to have to bringing in the money to pay the mortgage and bills and continue to be creative. 

I’ve got a collaboration in the pipeline that I’m keeping under wraps just now but I’m looking forward to applying my designs in a new context and scaling up.

If money wasn’t factored into your work choices, what would be your most glorious dream for your future as a freelancer? Be as outrageous as you dare.

I would go really BIG with my work, I’d love to see my designs on a huge scale on buildings, with lots of juxtaposition of pattern bringing positivity and joy to an area.  Maybe even a fleet of aeroplanes or cars…… I’d love to collaborate with Scottish brands! I love to travel and see places around the world and create collections inspired by places.

Anything else you’d like to highlight about the life of a freelancer

Being a freelancer I’m responsible for every part of my business – that includes emails, social media, accounts, packaging orders, listing products, taking the bin out, it’s not all drawing and playing with colour.

You can see my website here -

For my products in my shop -

You can follow me on social media:

Thanks Louise for taking the time to answer my questions!

Are you too feral to ever think about line managers, annual leave, sick days or retirement? Would you want to be interviewed for a blog post? If the answer is yes, comment or contact me through my website.

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