Kavel Rafferty is an English illustrator who lives and works in Barcelona. She combines drawing, found imagery, print and paint to create unique images of real emotional resonance and genuine charm. Her inspirations and interests – like rare old soul 45s, flea markets and vintage shop signs and type – help inform her distinctively bittersweet, elegantly nostalgic style. Kavel has been asked to create works for everybody from The Times and The Observer to Conde Nast Traveller, Ted Baker, Topshop, Paperchase and Selfridges. She also runs her own small exhibition space in Barcelona, Galeria Kavel. Kavel uses hand drawing, painting, print, collage and found imagery combined with photoshop and illustrator.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Kavel: I trained in textile print design, my work was always very illustrative so a natural progression I suppose, I still design a lot of t-shirts. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Kavel: Northbrook college in Worthing. Question: Where are you originally from? Kavel: I was born in Brighton, grew up in North Wales in the shadow of Snowdon, London and then a commune as a teenager in the Buckinghamshire countryside, Milton Keynes of all places and then London, Brighton and Stockholm, I'm a bit of a gypsy! Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Kavel: I am very lucky, I live in Barcelona! My best friends live here and I have always loved the city, I was offered a flat to live in and being a freelance illustrator means I can live almost anywhere with an internet connection. Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Kavel: My studio is part of my small gallery. The window looks out onto a sunny Barcelona street! Question: How do you get your ideas? Kavel: Flea markets, music, books. Question: Do you collect anything? Kavel: I collect generic record company sleeves, fabulous design from the 50's and 60's. I have quite a bit of Swedish china from my time living there too. Vintage stationery bits and bobs for work. I try to be minimal but it never lasts long! I photograph old shops, signs, found type, thankfully that hobby doesn't take up any space, it's all digital - oh and silly names from the Internet sp*m, see below. Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Kavel: I love soul music, 50s R'nB, Northern Soul, 60's and 70's soul, I have travelled all over Europe to go dancing!
Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. Kavel: I made a book with NoBrow last year, Sp*m Head, it looks great. I created SP*M HEAD; portraits based on the strange and sometimes wonderful names that arrive uninvited in my email inbox every day, trying to sell me designer replica watches and other such nonsense. I was so happy to work with them, they do such lovely things and I love a collaboration, it gets lonely being an illustrator sometimes! Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Kavel: Ohhhh I'd love to do shoe boxes with shoe illustrations, paid in shoes, yeah that would be nice! I would also love to do a recipe book. Question: Who are your art heroes? Kavel: I love outsider art, non design, accidental design if that makes sense, mid century design, Swedish designers like Stig Lindberg. My latest like is a photographer, Joan Colom from Barcelona who captured the seedier side of 50's and 60's life in Spain. Amazing. Question: Who are your musical heroes? Kavel: Soul stars! Question: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into illustration? Kavel: Work hard, put yourself about a bit! Question: If you could live anywhere, where would you go? Kavel: I'm happy here in Barcelona, it's a great city. We'll see, maybe another Spanish city in time. I get itchy feet! Question: If you could travel back in time which period would you visit & why? Kavel: Dickensian London, got to pick a pocket or two. Question: What’s your favourite scene or line from a film? Kavel: A Taste of Honey, "And what is my usual self? My usual self is a very unusual self!"