The Quaich Project

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A Q & A with Illustrator Kate McLelland

29th April 2019
The Quaich Project campaign was launched just one month ago and we are very proud of the animation created to depict how West Princes Street Gardens has evolved over time and introduce the next evolutionary chapter in the story. The animation was developed by our wonderful creatives at The Lane Agency, voiced by Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen and illustrated by the lovely Edinburgh-based illustrator Kate McLelland.
We caught up with Kate to find out a little bit more about the illustrator behind the animation…
Q: Hi Kate, have you always lived in Edinburgh and did you always want to be an illustrator?
Hello! I grew up in North East England, but my Dad commuted from Aberdeen, so we lived between Scotland and England my whole childhood. I moved to Edinburgh 13 years ago. At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my art degree. After a couple of years working in a publishing house, I managed to get into book cover design. However, I missed creating artwork and so I did a 2 year MFA at Edinburgh College of Art. I took every opportunity that came my way and was lucky to get signed to an agent, from there I got my first book deal.
Q: A love of nature and outdoors can be seen in your prints, are there areas around Scotland you particularly enjoy illustrating?
We holidayed on the Isle of Skye throughout my childhood – I think it is the most beautiful place on earth! For me, Scotland has everything – mountains, lochs, stunning coastlines and forests. The weather can change in a second which just makes the sunny moments more perfect. I still have so much to discover, but I love East Lothian’s coastline and exploring ruined castles.

Q: Had you illustrated West Princes Street Gardens before this project?
It featured in my Edinburgh Skyline print, which I screen printed at the Edinburgh Printmakers. I think it is one of the loveliest places in Edinburgh and it is one of the reasons Edinburgh is such a unique city. It can feel cosmopolitan, whilst retaining a village-like quality at the same time.
Q: What appealed to you about joining this project?
I think it’s so important to preserve, as well as improve the communal outdoor gardens in Edinburgh. It is so worthwhile for people living in Edinburgh and for all the local groups who would benefit from this improved space. It is also worthwhile from a global perspective. Green spaces in cities are vital, for the physical and mental well-being for all. It sends out a wonderful message and lasting impression to all those who visit this spectacular city.

Q: Congratulations on your most recent children’s book work, where do you think you will go next?
I am currently working on two books, I can’t talk about them yet but it’s fair to say they feature British wildlife in a big way! I am thoroughly enjoying myself. I am also working on an idea for a new children’s picture book . . . we will see where that one goes!
Q: You really do cover all aspects of the illustrating field! Was this your first time drawing for an animation? Where else can we see your work around Edinburgh?
Haha, yes I do! I must admit, I do like to try new things so I relish a challenge. I have taken part in a small animation with a team in London – but that was just a few concept drawings. As well as my book work I also like to work on self-motivated prints, which I sell in The Red Door Gallery on Victoria Street and various other print studios in the UK. I have been really lucky to work on some dream projects, I particularly enjoyed working on some large scale wall artwork for the new Dumfries and Galloway hospital.
Kate has gone on to win the MacMillan Prize and earn publication at Hodder Children’s Books. You may see her illustrations in books such as Nosy Cow, Ars Edition, Quatro and Floris Books. And now her work can be seen in animation, showcasing the very life of Edinburgh’s West Princes Street Garden – from the beginning of time and into the future.
You can view more of Kate’s work here: