Kate Moross

Designer, illustrator, record label owner: the astonishingly precocious Kate Moross has achieved more at 21 than many will in a lifetime

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Kate Moross is something of an inspiration. Although just 21 and currently in her final year at Camberwell College of Arts, a visit to her website reveals her graphic and illustrative output is nothing short of prolific. On top of her personal and college work she has managed to create pieces for clients including Sony and Cadburys, provide illustrations for a host of magazines such as Vice, Dazed & Confused, Super Super and Fact, and still found time to produce innumerable flyers for myriad London clubnights. Oh, and she’s just art directed a book for an architecture firm in collaboration with Tom Merrell Design, started her own record label and is about to launch her own range of signature clothing at Top Shop.

So what makes Kate Moross tick? “Theory, popular science, economics, weird stuff like that,” comes the response. “Bike rides, tea, stationery, music,” she adds. “And Pantone, systems, architecture, engineering, physics – anything that I can graphic-design-nerd-out on really.”

Moross’ work is wonderfully varied in style though invariably colourful and eye-catching, as she utilises hand-drawn elements, isometric and interlocking shapes and patterns, hand-drawn illustration and also vector graphic work. It is this combination of bright hues, painstaking design, hand-drawn letterforms and bold illustration that announces both her skill and confidence as an imagemaker. And also that she’s happy to do things the hard way, by hand, for the love of it which, in turn, gives her work appeal and plenty of charm.

“With illustration work I normally develop my ideas on the spot,” she says. “I am very impulsive, I don’t like planning for hours. First I discuss what the client wants and I like to put things on paper straightaway. I normally sketch something out very quickly and then tackle it head-on and go straight in with the ink. It normally works out for the best this way. With my hand-drawn work, I focus on intense detail, layering, colour and line. I love finding new patterns, shapes and letterforms to experiment with,” she adds.

Her approach to design work is markedly different, she claims. “I can spend weeks researching a project before I even start to visualise it – there is a lot of thought behind every idea. I like to start with a conceptual seed, and develop ideas from there. Gestalt Theory, for example was the start of all of my isometric patterns and shapes. The idea that ‘The whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ started the isometric building experiments that have flooded my work since.”

So perhaps it’s unsurprising to learn that Isomorph is the name of the the record label Moross has recently started – although it’s not just a record label. “Isomorph is a new company I’ve set up to act as an umbrella to any publishing or side project I choose to start,” she explains. “I will also be publishing a couple of books

in the new year. The record label part of  Isomorph was constructed to create vinyl-only releases for existing bands, as a chance for a collaboration between musicians and designers. I aim to work on a series of releases designing an aesthetic for each album/single.” The last issue of CR showcased the sleeve of the label’s first release, Populuxxe by Cutting Pink With Knives, which takes the form of a heavyweight green 10” record, housed in a gatefold sleeve adorned with origami-esque typography. “The vinyl itself is high in production value,” says Moross. “Where most labels would scrimp and save, Isomorph aims to indulge in all aspects of vinyl releases, creating collectors’ editions in small print numbers.”

This notion of creating collectable limited editions will also carry through to Moross’ forthcoming range of clothing for Top Shop. “I have designed a range of six garments which have all been hand-drawn and coloured using Letraset markers,” she reveals. “Each piece will be completely unique with only a few hundred of each being made.” Moross’ desire to produce her work in her own way, no matter what the cost in terms of expense or time, sets her apart from most of her peers and indeed her fellow students must surely struggle to compete with her remarkable productivity.

“I am itching to finish university,” admits Moross, “so I can focus on my work and start having some time off.” On the one hand some time off would seem well deserved – but at the same time it seems unlikely that Moross is going to slow down her output anytime soon.

“I am going to continue with my record label and invest in a studio which I want to convert into a co-operative space where freelancers can work together in the same environment,” she tells us of her immediate post-college plans. “I am looking forward to working with some more big brands and publishing a few more books.”

Born 09.04.86, UK.

Education: Graphic Design BA, Camberwell College of Arts, London.

Based: London, UK.

Work history: Illustrations for various magazines (including Fact, Super Super and Vice), illustration for national Cadbury’s print campaign by Fallon.