Kate Moross: “I’m not a ‘woman in design’ – I’m a designer”

Kate Moross is an illustrator, designer, art director and film-maker who runs Studio Moross. She works with bands including Disclosure, Sam Smith and One Direction, has illustrated for Vice, Dazed & Confused and Super Super and last year published her first book – Make Your Own luck.

This week, Moross was in conversation with Pentagram partner Marina Willer at the consultancy’s London studio, talking about her influences, work ethic and being a woman in design.

Spread from Make Your Own luck - image by Ed Park
Spread from Make Your Own luck – image by Ed Park

On her childhood influences

“From when I was five years old my mum [a teacher] had art students to babysit me – we were always making things. I was always encouraged to be weird and do what I wanted.

“One of the big moments in my life was at the age of about seven I went to a Jewish summer camp. I was in an environment where I had to be myself, without a family or friends network. I don’t think enough people get the opportunity so young to have to be yourself.”

On how she defines her practice

“Often I tell people I’m a graphic designer – the problem is then people think you just make websites…”

On being a woman in design

“I’ve pushed back against this ‘women in design’ thing – I’m not a woman in design, I’m a designer. In the case of my own practice I’ve never feel like I’ve struggled because I’m a girl in design.

“But I’m also lucky because there are so few women designers out there – so there are about six of us that get invited to do all the talks…”

On colour

“I like all colours – apart from black and brown…”

Kate-Moross-2

On working hard at a young age

“I was doing graphic design before I even knew what graphic design was.

“At school I worked on everything – posters for bands, stages sets for plays. I once got dragged into my art teachers classroom and he said – ‘can you just stop doing everything and give other people a chance?’ I reported him to the headmistress and he got into trouble…”

On ambitions for the future

“I want to make an action movie…”

On the trouble with the internet

“With the way people use the internet at the moment they’re just clicking and liking and sharing what everyone else is doing. It’s very difficult to have a creative insight when you’re just looking at everyone else’s visuals. Design has never been so homogenised.

“Don’t look at things like Pinterest – these sites are for uploading your work to – they’re not a resource for finding inspiration.”

On developing her business

“I’d love to find a partner who I could share the business with – I’d love for there to be more names in the title. But running a business is like a marriage, and I know too many people who have divorced partnerships.”

On having a “style”

“I don’t think I have a style – I think people who think I have might know certain areas of my work but not others.

“I never say I would like people to be able pick my work out of a line-up, but I would love it if people saw it all together and know it came from the same place.”

Page from Make Your Own luck - image by Ed Park
Page from Make Your Own luck – image by Ed Park

On winning work

“I did a map in my third year of running the studio and realised that most of my projects came from a few key people who I had met

“It’s all about communication and being brave enough to pipe up. Socialising and being present is how you get clients – because clients aren’t always clients, often they’re people’s friends of friends who want some design work.”

On not growing up

“There was never a point at which I grew up or felt I was too old to do something – like I never grew out of drawing. There was never an end to being young and playful.

“That complete focus and obsession that you have as child went into my work”


Kate Moross was in conversation with Pentagram partner Marina Willer on 11 June.

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Comments
  • Joana Niemeyer June 16, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    “But I’m also lucky because there are so few women designers out there – so there are about six of us that get invited to do all the talks…”

    What a strange answer… I don’t think the reason why only six get invited is because there are not enough designers out there. Whoever organises these events simply resorts to the usual suspects and no one gives other female designers the exposure they deserve.

    • Katie Coleman June 23, 2015 at 12:05 pm

      I agree, this seems like an unhelpful comment to make. It’s hard enough finding different viewpoints in an industry fuelled by cliques – I would love to hear from more female designers but also from gay graphic designers and anyone outside the usual voices.

  • Monika Luka July 6, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    It doesn’t make any difference if you are woman, man, gay etc. you must have an idea about design, communication and social skills. If you are working independently you work mostly because of connections. Ps. There are a lot of women in design.

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