We had the good fortune of connecting with KATIE BRIGHT and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi KATIE, what role has risk played in your life or career?
My life on the edge, a cat with nine risks, I stayed focused on a creative dream, I said yes to everything, I literally jumped ship and ran amuck, move country for work, move country for love, lived life passionately, then eventually all nine risks paid off to a sense of happiness. I’ve established with you I’m a risk-taker, so let’s begin the journey of each of those nine, title with a theme song.
Risk 1 – “Don’t Stop Me Now” Queen I left school at 15 and went to art school for 3 years. Halfway through my course, the teachers unanimously, bar one, the incredible Marie Kolesnik, took it upon themselves to tell me I didn’t have the talent to go to one of Europe’s best fashion schools. With only Ms. Kolesnik’s support, I took on the school, and not only did I get my first University choice I was accepted into every Fashion School I applied to Win-Win.
Risk 2 – “Live or Let Die” Paul McCartney and Wings I arrived in London and I was definitely a small fish in a big BIG pond, my 39 classmates and I were told no freshers week for you. It was like “you do this project in a week and if you succeed, you can stay”. There were lots of tissues and lots of sleepless nights. Our 3 years of the BA (Hons) Fashion Design we’re some of the cruelest moments of our lives. They prepared us for the industry alright! I think we graduated with 23 students, so they emotionally killed off 18 people over those years. It was brutal. During my second year, I won a knitwear project sponsored by the United Colors of Benetton. In my third year two weeks before my final catwalk collection was handed in, my Grandfather Jim died. I even had to work through grief, or fail. The payoff was before I’d graduated I was given a job with the United Color of Benetton in Treviso Italy.
Risk 3 – Robert De Niro’s Waiting…” Bananarama In 2001 the Australian boyfriend and I moved to Italy. I was given a wage, accommodation for the 2 of us, Italian lessons, food allowance. Looking back I was a very spoilt young lady at 21. DREAM JOB! I would describe it as an incredible experience. I met some great people and lived a good year. Creatively I was miserable and it showed. I’m an open book. So the “Aussie boo” and I made a pact to go to Australia after a year.
Risk 4 – “Down Under” Men At Work We moved to Australia and did the defacto visa which leed to me becoming an Australian Citizen as well as British. We moved in with friends we met in Italy. Set up a good life. I freelanced as a fashion designer in couture and I did well. At 25 I did the respectable thing and took a full-time job in the mass market fashion trade. This was a good move, learning adobe computer skills and preparing artwork to send to China. It wasn’t highly creative but I crafted knowledge with guidance from the most beautiful humans I call family. They nurtured and shaped me to be the person that I became. In my personal life, things were crap, my “Aussie boo” and new best friend “shimmied” and fell in love. This left me doing a Bridget Jones “all by myself”.
Risk 5 – “Live or Let Die” Guns N’ Roses I bought an apartment in Sydney I thought it would make me happy. I was miserable. After I had paid my mortgage I had $100 a week to live on and feed myself with. However, it made me super creative. I’d go to an art gallery opening or anything that was catered for. I even went to the opening of a bank once, free champagne! However, I was not living the expectations of my 15-year-old creative self. After a while, I started making my own artwork. I was going to my day job working 8-4, by 4:30 I was home working until 2-3 am. My friends questioned where I went to? A year later I emerged with my first solo art show, it was Valentine Day 2012 at the aMBUSH Gallery, heavily sponsored, I’d made 101 artworks, created an event, 1000 people attended the opening. I sold $25,000 worth of work, It was epic.
Risk 6 – “London Calling” The Clash I was super frustrated by March 2012, and I may have fallen in love with a British guy, who lived in England. The only thing at that time I aspired to do was a Master in Fine Art. I sold up in Oz, moved back to the UK, then applied for the Masters, yeah I was in luvvvvv I didn’t think this through. We broke up shortly after I arrived home but lucky enough I got into the Masters at Central Saint Martin’s the same week. Win-Win with a box of tissues.
Risk 7 – “Sailing” Rod Stewart So I’m 34, the Master was a 2-year program with about 5 months off for summer vacation after the first year. I decided to put the time to good use. I trained to be a stewardess on a superyacht and rocked up on Antibe, France. With a lot of charm in my pocket, 7 days later, I was on 47m yacht as a nanny to a 4-year-old who was the only one on the boat who spoke English. Mind you I’d never babysat a day in my life! Winging it! That kid and I adventured on the owner’s additional speed boat around Formentera, made sandcastles at Le Club 55, St Tropez, and played hide and seek in Corsica, This kid and I had the best summer until he went back to school. Tissues! In my last month of vacation, I managed a house in Ibiza, recruiting a couple to permanently take over. But most days I kayaked around to the Blue Marlin Bar and made art. What a dream summer.
Risk 8 – “Coming Home” Leon Bridges It’s the 2nd year of the Master in Fine Art, 2013 I’m back in my home town, Swindon, UK, with mum and dad, commuting to London for Masters, unexpectedly my father dies. But guess what, it’s two weeks before my thesis is due. I had to write that thing organizing a funeral. It was not easy. But what was great, that year I got to spend time with my dad before he passed. I had not lived at home for sixteen years. We had fun. I stayed with mum for just over a year until March 2015. When I needed to take a leap again I consulted a white witch to where I could be happy, she suggests anywhere on the west coast of America. I moved to LA a week later.
Risk 9 – “America” Neil Diamond Yes, my forth country. I landed here 5 years ago. My first morning, I walked up Robertson to Melrose Ave, the Design District of the world, West Hollywood, I fell in love, again, but with a place. I was home. I didn’t want to be anywhere else. My Airbnb host introduced me to, who is now a long-time collaborator, interior designer, Annie May, who kick-started my business adventures here in LA. It all began by saying yes to everything she suggested. From those early foundations and then my 15 years experience, I developed the Welcome to the Brightside Creative Agency. I do incredible commissions, Illustration, mural both painted and wallpaper. I’m a surface design queen, a storyteller, and most of all an Imagineer. In 2020 I created a commercial homeware line The Digs Collection, which is available to the public. To conclude, I’m a feline with 9 major risks under my belt, each one plays a part in who I’ve become, what I do, and how I approach it. My moto is to be indifferent to the outcome and just keep moving, evolve, and find your happy place. I am here, Katie Bright, the Imagineer, 41, 2020, West Hollywood, USA, Risk 9.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
How a brand begins, Welcome to the Brightside style. It all began on October 25, 2019, my first official day off work that year. I was in a manifesting mediation when my unsilenced phone pinged. Curiosity got the better of me, it was an opportunity to design a mural wallpaper for the ceiling at Pasadena Showcase House, the Loft/Study. I jumped on a call with interior designer Barbie Palomino. The conversation concluded, with me, left to think about it, within half a day I’d created The Digs Collection. That manifestation mediation came to fruition rather a little quick. It was like I’d whispered in Santa’s ear and he pulled out a miniature drum kit! Backtracking a little, 2019 had been an insane year, it was back to back and overlapping private commissions. Sometimes only getting 2-3 hours sleep. The projects were paid well and some fabulous work was done, but I was tired. When I sat down to meditate that day I was open to receiving an answer to create something incredibly passionate that could also generate passive income. I mean one day the artist needs to pull her socks up and creatively solve the question every artist has.
How do I do what I do, love what I do, and not hate a second of it? My answer to Barbie Palomino, that evening was, I’m in. The Digs Collection was born and 11 months later it launched as a homeware company, specializing in mural scale wallpapers and kimonos available to the public. What was wonderful about 2020 and the pandemic was it opened up time and space and there was no hurry for anything. I could take my time with the collection and just be happy creating. My introvert self was super content. Mad World one of my mural scale designs took 2000 hours. Inspired by the song by Tears for Fears, Mad World ultimately began as a response to Picasso’s Guernica, but instead of a visual narrative in the act of war, I’ve responded with an internal battle, a war on the self. Mad World has a dynamic conflict of emotions, from death, destruction to transformation, and the notion that life will continue. I don’t just create wallpaper at The Digs Collection, for example, Mad World is a philosophical world with many polarising view points. I can’t wait for the world to watch this creative adventure evolve.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
This is my ultimate guide in a walkable part of LA. I book a room at the La Peer Hotel, West Hollywood designed by Gulla Jónsdóttir. Over this week we drink coffee from Toasted and Roasted, The Assembly, Dayglow Coffee, Verve, Blue Bottle, and Alfreds, I can pretty much drink 5-6 espresso a day! Whoops Breakfast is my favorite meal, Cecconi’s green eggs with a side of hash browns are incredible. The avocado toast with an egg from Blue Bottle or Verve Coffee is to die for. Zinqué has a super delicious breakfast English muffin with an egg, cheese, and avocado. NOM NOM! We do a CylceHouse class and sweat hard at the Dogpound Gym. Shop at GBK brand bar, AllSaints, Sweaty Betty, and Alice and Olivia.
We check art from the emerging artist LA Arts Association. Happy hour with Gracias Madre, I recommend Chicharron with a spicy Purista or 6. warning the Wet Burrito is like the size of a baby’s arm! It’s massive. A vegan moment at Crossroads or Pura Vita. Supper, a slice of pizza at Vito’s Pizza, cheese platter from The Conservatory. Watch a movie at E.P.L.P and snack on waffle fries. E.P. has an intensive cocktail list and a divine dinner menu. Eat all! Watch a band at The Troubadour, The Viper Room, or the Whiskey Go-Go. Last call drinks at the Rainbow Bar and Grill or the Roger Room.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
The list of incredible humans that have been super important to my journey, are Carol and Brian Bright, Edna, and Ray Wright, Jim, and Joyce Bright. Natalie Frost, Nicola, and Stewart Rowe, Liz, and Barry Bright, Mrs. Greenwood, Vera Bennet, Marie Kolesnik, Suzy Rycroft, Ryan and Kylie Ostle, Akira Isogawa, Deborah James, Deirdre White, Norman Gelber, Lina Boffa, Roz Evans, Janice Dolina, Maria Orlicek, Gráinne Shemesh, Polly Buttigieg, Kirsty Ainsworth, Rory Hughes, Donné Restom, Eddie Zammit, Bill Dimas, and John Wiltshire, Shivaun Leis, Monica Davidson, Ann Brown, Annie May, Lorriane Wilkinson, Ellen, and Peter Picataggio, Felix Etienne-Edouard Pfeifle, Lauren Wiessbrod, Jen and Matthew Carden, and Nicholas Rimedio. I truly feel there are many people who shape us, from a stranger who smiles to a close encounter or a lifelong friend. I have much gratitude to every soul I have met, and to who I’m yet to be in the presence of.
Image 6, Nathalie Gordon Image 8, Jess Isaac