Personal work by Dionne Kitching

Dionne Kitching on why play is better than perfectionism

The Manchester-based artist tells CR how embracing the element of chance, and stopping the endless quest for perfection, restored her love of illustration and gave her work a new lease of life

Three years into a career as a full-time freelance illustrator, Dionne Kitching started to feel like maybe there was something missing. Although she’d enjoyed making work for the likes of the Big Issue, End of the Road festival and Urban Outfitters, she couldn’t avoid thinking “maybe this isn’t exactly it, maybe this isn’t exactly right”.

Some answers came during Covid lockdown, when Kitching – like so many creatives – saw commissions dry up. With a lot more time on her hands she started working on a collective project called Obstructions – an initiative created by designer and Rochester Institute of Technology associate professor Mitch Goldstein. The project is inspired by a Lars von Trier documentary in which the filmmaker challenged poet and director Jørgen Leth to make the same film five times, using different limitations. Goldstein’s own Obstructions exercise challenges creatives to make work under a set of considerations, randomly generated via his website, and then share the results online.

“It would say things like ‘you can only use black and white’ or ‘you have to use ten colours’ or ‘only use things you can find in the garage’,” Kitching tells CR. “It was about play, and trying new things, and part of the idea was to just make stuff no matter the outcome – make anything, whether it’s good or not. I found that really freeing.