We’re back after a much needed break, and… we’ve only gone and chatted with Artist, and Designer, Caroline Dowsett! Caroline’s lively pieces are colourful, playful and full of movement. Inspired by feels, sounds, words and the everyday, her recognisable style is a dose of joy every time. Just what we need as the days get darker. We’re so chuffed that Caroline shared her journey with us. In this convo she riffs on the importance of development and play, how she honoured her practice by going full-time back in 2020, and how good things can happen (like nearly 10K raised for the Manchester Food Bank good!) if we put our heads together.
Caroline, what’s your creative occupation?
I’m an Artist and Designer working with colour, shapes and fluid lines to convey messages of joy and feels. I work from my studio in Manchester (born n’ bred) where I create my pieces for local independent clients and larger companies further afield, too. My studio is full of inspiration in print form; books, prints etc. and LOADS of paint. Here is where I paint, sketch, play and use my trusty iPad Pro to bring my shapes and compositions to life.
Where have you been?
I’ve been in Manchester my whole 31 years on this planet. Art was the only subject at school where I felt myself come alive; connected, a real safe space for me. This led me to study art at college, then I went on to do an art foundation course where my mega tutor (shout out to Vicky) introduced me to graphic novels… this blew my mind! Illustration and words being combined to portray a variety of narratives and voices – I felt so inspired. I then went to study Graphic Design at Manchester School of Art where I actually dropped out in 2nd year. I met lots of independent artists within the city through taking part in print fairs towards the end of my first year, and also through my part-time job at a bar called Common, where they put on exhibitions. All the people that worked there were creative practitioners, and the punters too. I wanted to take a year out to see what I could do, develop a practice that was for me to explore and connect to my artistic vision. I rented a studio at Islington Mill with some of the people I had worked with at Common, then moved into The Engine House Studio with 10 of my wonderful creative friends. We were all working in different creative practices, it was truly a magical, inspiring time!
Long story short, I got very sick with an autoimmune condition, had to leave and practiced from home for a few years where the style you see today was born. The abstract shapes, colours and words of positivity pulled me through that time, and allowed me to really connect to this practice.
Where are you now?
I’m now a full-time artist and designer, working from the studio I share with my good friend Ben Vulliamy. It’s in the NQ right near Fred Aldous, which is very handy for all the inspiration and materials. I took the leap in October 2020 to do this full-time, trust my journey and work with incredible clients that support my style, and work on visions together. It was a scary decision to make, but I’m so glad I did! It’s allowed me to really put my work out there, and spend my time honouring my practice.
In August of this year, I put on my first solo show of paintings, exhibited by UNITOM/Universal Tomorrow at Ducie St. It was a daunting and very exciting process to just create for creating, as I’m so used to having a brief. It was a beautiful time spent painting these pieces, which were a reflection of my life from the previous 12 months. To feel so vulnerable with the canvas was a great experience, to play, and then being able to share these pieces was magic. It’s on show until the end of October if you fancy a look!
Where are you going?
I’m developing my practice to work on a wide variety of mediums, ensuring that I encourage joy within my practice, too! Development and play is so important and I think it can easily, and understandably, be lost with ensuring the bills are being paid. Next for me is getting an agent. I’m so proud of the work I’ve created and the clients I’ve worked with as a solo artist but I’m now ready for this next step, to see what can be created, and the collaborations ahead. I’m breaking my print fair hiatus, too. I used to do them often for around 6 years but then took a break due to health, and wanting to focus on my practice, but I’m ready and very excited to be around inspiring work, meeting other creatives and the people who support me! First on the cards is the Glasgow Print Fair, November 5th. Fairs really push you to create work for yourself, too… to really explore mediums and trust your process.
Finally, what’s occupying your thoughts today?
My thoughts today are with all that is happening in the UK right now. It’s feeling rather dark here on this small island, and the lack of support from the government for those who are in need is heart-breaking. I’m trying to use this as a force and am in talks to be holding another creative raffle, but this time an in person event, to help raise funds for our local food banks. In the past two years the creative community, and the public who bought raffle tickets, managed to raise nearly 10K for the Manchester Food Bank, which is incredible and really cemented that if we put our heads together some good things can happen.
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