Monday, 6 January 2014

Artist Interview: Kylie Hunt of Paravent

Hello 2014! What would be a better way to start the New Year than with an inspiring interview with one of my favourite artists I've come across in my crafty journey - who's colour use and attention to detail makes her work instantly recognizable, and her designs always give you something new to discover every time you see them. Please welcome Kylie behind the Paravent creations!
please tell us about yourself
Labels have always been difficult for me – I’m the kind of person who over-thinks things… you know, it could be read this way or maybe they might think this etc etc. It’s a tedious way to be I guess, but also it’s a thoughtfulness that has saved me many times (haha – I’m still doing it!) ANYWAY, it’s taken me a looong time but I now call myself an artist.

where / when / how did you learn your craft? 
I’m (mostly) self-taught, so this particular label has seemed far too ‘superior’ for my chaotic, slap-dash, mad way of working. I did a blog post* about it once, talking about how my children (when asked what I do) tell people I’m an artist and how I just can’t bring myself to say it as well. The comments section was an amazing shake up for me – all these lovely peeps giving me a ticking off for not accepting what I am. Anyway, I’m gradually letting go of the lofty definitions and coming to accept who I am and what I do.
I’ve always been creative… but art classes at my school weren’t like what they are now. I see what my daughters do at school and I almost weep with envy. We had to copy, copy, copy – it was a way of refining technique but also had the effect of squashing down any originality. When the time came to choose a career path, I decided I wasn’t good enough to be an artist; that I’d never make a living out of it, and so I chose a different path and meandered my way into publishing for art galleries.
Don’t get me wrong – I certainly don’t regret these years. I had so much fun and met so many fabulous people. I also learned a lot about art and arts practice. At one stage, I was working for the National Art Library in London. The NAL is in the Victoria & Albert Museum and whilst walking through the catacombs under that wonderful building, which are lined with every art publication ever written, I had a tingling moment of realisation about difference. It sounds so corny now because the whole ‘There is no right way, merely different ways’ mantra is so well known, but for me then it was a secret little seed that came to fruition later. 
It was also around this time that I came across a wonderful saying by Theodore Roosevelt that I still hold close. “Comparison is the thief of joy”… Isn’t that fabulous? It has helped me to move on from my past and throw myself into my own ideas and practice. I draw on it all the time – it’s amazing how many different areas of life it can be applied to.
So, fast forward to a few years later, and I’m back in Australia with two children and all the identity crises that come with no longer having a career in which to orient my self-esteem. I try to paint again but that has to be dropped because as soon as I’m ‘in the zone’ I’m totally unaware of what the kids are doing. ‘Mum, can we get some kerosene and go play in the middle of the road?’ ‘Yes yes, darling. Go on.’ … that sort of thing ;) So, I needed to have something to do where I would still be ‘present’ for my kids, and I taught myself how to sew. From there I started designing and printing my own fabrics. Then, I got into embroidery and crochet and a million other crafts that helped me to translate what I was seeing in my mind into physical form.
Do you have a studio in your home / workspace / playlist / preferred working hour / or work everywhere?
I work in chaos, and yes, it is a reflection of my mind. I used to try to write/sketch ideas into a book to come back to when I had time, but that didn’t work for me – the jotted notes or pictures no longer had that current sizzling through them and what I saw on the page didn’t inspire me. So now, when I have an idea I start on it immediately. It’s not unusual for me to have 20 or more projects on the go at any one time. I don’t think I have a singular style as I respond to whatever idea has hit me, but I do have a preference for the whole Mid-Century modern aesthetic. I also seem to have been caught by the neon bug this year ;)
Also, I’m a very visual person. I don’t plan my pieces, I just jump in and work it out on the way. This actually works really well with the whole ‘chaos thing’ as I’m able to jump to a different project while still ticking away in my mind how to resolve the problems on the other piece. I need to see it done/made in front of my eyes before I know if I like it / if it works / if I want to continue with it. Consequently, I have quite a few unfinished bits and pieces around the place… rejects waiting for new life ;)
I’m very lucky to have two rooms in our house that I use as studio and storage rooms. Both rooms are piled high with materials, books, tools and curios. Because of the way I work, I have to be strict with my time so that I can still be there for my family. The days fly by so quickly, particularly at the moment as I’m obsessed with embroidering paper and that takes forever. In some ways I’ve come full circle because I’m once again so immersed in what I’m doing… I’d be lost without the calendar alerts on my phone! ;)
The other way I’m lucky is that, while all of this is going on, I also help my husband with our small business - the thing that pays the bills! Not having an economic imperative to my art has to be the sweetest of gifts in being able to create what I want to. Perhaps it’s also a negative because I don’t have the economic imperative to give me a good kick to get things finished and in my online shops. So, I still look at everything from many different perspectives and over-think all the time, but it’s brought me to a place where I love what I do. It’s so lovely when others like it too and it’s such a beautiful compliment to be on your blog… Thanks so much for having me here Miss Smilla :-)

You're very welcome! :-) 
And dear readers, if you'd like to see more of Kylie's work, please check out her blog, connect on Facebook, or see and enjoy her Etsy or Bigcartel shop.


  1. Great interview! Love Kylies work! :)

  2. Lovely interview! I'm a huge fan of Kylie's work.

  3. Such a lovely interview from one of my favourites in blogland. Kylie's work is just beautiful and I have loved watching her create and explore.

  4. great interview with kylie :-)