049 Kate Cragoe Mayfield

Lion Flower3

Lion – pen and pencil on paper


Location: BRISTOL


photo for boconcept

The beautiful creator Kate

When I was studying up in Sheffield I came down to visit Bristol quite a lot. There was many a good party at one friend’s house in particular and it was here in 2008 that I met Kate. 

Kate loved to doodle and colour in, “Whether it was on my bedroom wall as a toddler, or in school down the border of a notebook, I would often try to find some surface to draw on and took a pen/pencil wherever I went.”  She started filling up small sketch books from an early age and by the time she got to GCSE’s her art teacher “had told my parents emphatically that, ‘she MUST do art’. I studied art again at A-level, not because I was told to by teachers or anyone else but simply because that’s what I enjoyed doing.”

Thinking back to when she was younger, Kate believes that “Arthur Rackham and Aubrey Beardsely’s illustrations made an impact on which direction my style headed towards. I remember being influenced as well by Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s patterns and stylised drawings of plants, as well as his botanical watercolours. The Art Nouveau illustrations of plants in ‘Plant Form & Design’ by W. Midgley and A. E. V. Lilley definitely inspire me to look closely at plants and then use that knowledge to create ornate patterns based on botanical accuracy.”  

Two Ships

Two Ships – pencil and black and gold pen on paper

She moved from her village in the Peak District to come and study Illustration at the University of Western England, Bristol. “This course allowed me to form the style I now often work in; black and white detailed drawings. Some of the tutors asked if I had an obsessive disorder of some sort. They suggested I had ‘Horror-Vacui’, which means fear of empty spaces, particularly in artistic designs. They also thought I had a slight fascination with phallic imagery but this was more in jest than based on solid evidence, I think.”

After graduating in 2009 she struggled to know exactly what she wanted to do. “There is an array of different options with illustration, but after being encouraged by a tutor not to give up, I didn’t. Now I’m getting paid commissions for a range of clients. I like to create worlds and characters that have origins in this world but allow escapism to another. It is therapeutic sometimes and a nightmare others but the end product is always an important step in the right direction.” As is often the case with people who have a creative flare, she also has “another job for extra financial support, but am lucky enough to work outdoors and have time to continue with design and illustration.”

Work mainly with pencil or fine liner black ink pens Kate draws “free hand, sometimes highly detailed pieces, avoiding computer generated or altered images. A small knowledge of Photoshop has come in use for some recent jobs but generally I hate working on computers. I enjoy creating patterns, often fairly symmetrical and organic and have drawn a lot of inspiration from nature in a lot of my work. It is the most abundant, accessible and interesting source of information for me.”


HIV – black ink on cartridge paper

“I think a good example of work which highlights my preferred style, is a series of drawings that I based on electron micrographs of diseases and cancerous cells. I’d say these images show my sometimes obsessive tendencies.” Kate was contacted by someone who wished to use these in an exhibition in Brighton called ‘Cancer Landscapes’. “I also had my medical illustrations accepted by the Wellcome Trust’s Wellcome Images organisation to be displayed on their website. These images have gone on to be used by different medical organisations and I receive royalty payments each time this happens.”

Crane A3

Black Necked Crane – black and gold pen on paper

One of the main reasons I started The Spiralling is because so many people find self-promotion challenging, and Kate is no exception. “It’s a real problem for me, which is partly the reason why things have taken so long to get going since leaving university. It’s an important part of getting noticed within this field and I’m still not great at it!” However she did recently take a portfolio of work out around Bristol, concentrating on the galleries, shops and cafes in Stokes Croft and “was really encouraged by the positive feedback people had. It led to my work being sold in the Here Gallery on Stokes Croft. Seeing my work in the window was a great moment. Also a few months volunteer work/a gallery to sell my art in at The Little Shop, which has also led on to other contacts. So overcoming my nerves and fear of rejection has been very useful!”

Cervical cancer

Cervical Cancer – black ink on cartridge paper

At the moment Kate is working on her biggest project which is a children’s book that she’s illustrating. “I hope to take part in exhibitions in the not too distant future, hopefully with my extended family, Fran and Tom Bennett. We had planned a joint exhibition but it fell through so we’d like to exhibit together soon. We all have similar styles so it would work well together.”

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