GraphicDesign caught up with Moross to talk about her book, her background, her showcase, and her work with Fortune 500 companies.
GraphicDesign: Why did you decide to write “Make Your Own Luck”?
Kate Moross: I’ve been working on the actual copy for about six years, so some of the text in the book I wrote years ago and some is more recent. When I was talking to the publisher when I started writing, we discussed turning it into more of an advice piece and a guide for younger professionals or people who were struggling to get started. Since I have had quite a bit of experience working on all kinds of brands and projects, it seemed like a good fit.
GraphicDesign:Would you say this book highlights how you built your success?
Kate Moross: It takes away a lot of the mystery behind working for big clients and working with clients that people would want to associate with. It talks about how much coincidence leads you to working with dream clients, but it’s not really a coincidence – it’s a sequence of events. I don’t believe in coincidences in that sense. That’s the whole idea of the book, by the way: through a process or action, you work with people you want to work with. All of that only comes about by being proactive and being confident.
GraphicDesign: How can someone separate himself or herself from the fierce competition in the graphic design industry?
Kate Moross: Making original work is a great way to set yourself apart; creating work that doesn’t look like what’s out there is a good place to start. People will find your work naturally and they’ll interact with it in context. Do lots of “live” work for people so others will say, “I like that poster” or “I like that piece of art.” It’s about having projects where there’s a proper audience.
GraphicDesign: How important is it to put out physical works as opposed to relying purely on the internet?
Kate Moross: People are used to seeing imagery online, but they aren’t used to seeing it in a physical landscape around them. It’s not just about having your work presented physically, either. It’s about the experience of designing a poster for a pub night or designing a book cover that people will see and touch. You’re designing for real people who will look at your work and interact with it.
GraphicDesign: One of the subjects in your book is dealing with copycats. What advice do you have in that department and how extensive of a problem is it?
Kate Moross: The first thing you should do is, without any emotion or bias, ask someone to see if one piece of work is copied from the other. In the UK, there weren’t any defining rules about that. You need to take your emotions out of it and it can be a difficult thing to go through.
It’s usually a mistake and it’s usually not vindictive. If you get emotional, it’s not easy to see it clearly. I would also suggest you research the procedures to go through if you feel like someone has violated your copyrights. If it’s a small business, I would be sensitive to them maybe being naïve and contact them politely.
GraphicDesign: How have sales of your book gone so far?
Kate Moross: Sales have been great. We’ve sold out of half the edition already and that’s just across Europe and the US. I am shocked and happy that it has gone so well because it’s a large edition for an artist’s book. It’s exciting to see people buying it and posting pictures on Instagram. I also love hearing people say that it has helped them. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true.
GraphicDesign: You just held a “Make Your Own Luck” live show. For those of us who didn’t make it, what happened and how many people turned out?
Kate Moross: The show was an opportunity to have an event while the book was out. It’s almost like you want to have a party when something good is going on. I’ve also never had a show before and never had a place people could come see my work, so this was an opportunity to do that.
The show was self-produced at a local gallery near my office. I am friends with the curator there and it wasn’t what they’d normally have, but they were keen to let me cover the walls. It was super-busy too. They were shocked at how many people came in and out. I had talks there on the weekends as well and, all in all, it couldn’t have gone better.
I planned the show with the help of a few other people and had a really amazing technician build an installation for the window. We had a drink sponsor for the party, but everything else was sponsored by the book sales. We had a shop with customized Kate Moross products so people could buy things. It was very much a DIY concept. We carried everything in and out and it was very satisfying.
GraphicDesign: Who is qualified to host their own showcase?
Kate Moross: It depends. Your expectations for how many people would attend would depend on the impact and spread of your work. I genuinely thought there would be five people coming per day, but there were more like 50. I’m so used to working in a bubble, but I’m not used to how many people I actually touch. There are a lot of people interested in what I’m doing.
When I grew up, everyone was having group shows, so that’s an option too for some people. I was focused on commercial work, though, and wasn’t keen on showing my own work. The show I just held was about displaying six or seven years of my accomplishments. I like seeing bodies of work as opposed to an individual person or thing.
I worked really hard for seven years and the show was evidence of that. The book is too. It’s not about incredible talent or skill – it’s about working hard and being confident in yourself. That sounds a bit like motivational speaking, but I believe it’s true. You need to have skills and talent, but you can develop those by working. I wasn’t the best at anything when I started, but I worked hard.
GraphicDesign: You’ve worked with a few big-name companies throughout your career, including Nike and Google. What did you do for them?
Kate Moross: For Nike, my first project was with the UK marketing department. They were having an event celebrating the 23rd anniversary of the dunk, so I did a showcase of 23 influences in London. That was a huge amount of work and I had to do 23 illustrations. It was a massive job and I took it very seriously. I had a special light box to do the illustrations. It was a good experience overall.
With Google, I have done bits and pieces for them, but the main one was an illustration we did at an event in New York. It was cool to play with the brand. I like big commercial projects where you can play around with the brand. With Google, we did it in 48 hours and then 48 hours later, they painted over what we had done. It was great to do something in a city I love.