Illustrator and Surface Pattern Designer Katharine Swift

Katharine Swift‘s career started 19 years ago as a carpet and rug designer after 12 years she decided to change direction and set up my own business illustrating and producing unique wedding stationery as Paper Monkeys.

“At this point I had a HND in Textiles and surface design but wanted to gain my degree so I ran this alongside my business on a part-time basis finally achieving a first class honours degree in Textiles and surface design. Although I do run a commercial business my aim over the next few years is to push my work as a freelance surface pattern designer at the moment I don’t know which way this will take me but its quite exciting to be on the brink of finding out.”

lust and greed

‘Illustration is at the centre of my creative practice combined with Photoshop and Illustrator manipulation. I am obsessed by children’s book illustration and particularly admire the illustrative work of Arthur Rackham, as his work combines storytelling with intriguingly dark drawn detail. My degree show enabled me to develop my existing illustration professional practice; in new and exciting directions producing a body of work entitled ‘Life itself is the most wonderful fairytale’.

From childhood we are bombarded by fairytales and the concept of the happy ending, but in reality, life holds pitfalls and tragic endings. I became intrigued by the underlying messages of fairytales and discovered that the originals have quite gruesome messages. Many of these tales are moralistic and reflect on the darker aspects of life. By linking each of the seven deadly sins to a well-known fairytale, my aim was to re-establish the links back to the original story and its meaning. My collection included ; unique craft pieces, fabric designs for interiors & a book of present-day fractured tales.’

Book Title2

‘All three were based on my illustrative artwork and applied to a variety of products. The shadow boxes use paper cutting, scale and layering, to bring my illustrations to life, they are detailed, delicate and purely decorative pieces aimed at adults. The range of textile designs demonstrate how illustration can form the basis for surface design and are printed onto various fabrics for upholstery and curtaining. They are aimed at contemporary domestic adult interiors. Finally the illustrations have been photographed and transformed into a book of dark fairytales based on current social situations; thus linking the old to the new. I am currently making enquiries regarding freelance projects and searching for somewhere to exhibit my shadow boxes which are growing in numbers with the recent addition of Rapunzel.’


gluttony - book



Katharine Swift Website | Behance | Facebook | @papermonkeys