Artist Spotlight: Catherine Garvey

Natus Aritist Residency: Catherine Garvey

Every year we commission an up and coming artist to work within our gallery space as a part of ‘Natus’ Artist Residency. This year’s artist, Catherine Garvey, is a Liverpool based illustrator and comic artist who spent the last few weeks working on her latest creation ‘Alien Agency’. As always, we decided to learn a bit more about Catherine and her practice.

Tell us more about yourself and your practice; what inspires you, what medium is your favourite and how did you end up in the world of art?

Hey, I’m Cath, an Illustrator and comic artist based in Liverpool. I love cartoon shows, nature and animals. I studied at Plymouth University in Illustration; on my course I focused on comics and animation. 

I’m currently using calligraphy pens for drawing comics.  My process is: pencil the lines, pen it over, scan into the computer, open photoshop and rearrange the panels and colour. I really like playing with colours which was something my teacher told me I was bad at, and I should only work in black and white. I wanted to prove him wrong, so I learned how to use colour and now I’m really good at it. 

I started off in the ‘art world’ by simply posting art online and got quite a following on Tumblr.

I currently sell t shirts, comics and badges online and at zine fairs in the North, Midlands and North East. I like Zine fairs more than art fairs; everyone is welcoming and there’s a diverse range of people tabling. Everyone had a story to tell, they were passionate, and zines were the best form to share it!

A zine is short for ‘magazine’, it is a handmade booklet usually cheaply made- that’s the point. I make most of my comics by hand at home, which has saved me a lot of money.

As our artist in residence, you spend some time working within the gallery space. How did you find the experience as compared to your usual practice?

I usually work in my bedroom, so it was really nice to get out and work away from home. I liked how calm it was and the buzz of people around me. I feel that I’ve made my best work so far during this residency. I sometimes find it hard to finish anything at home, I have so many distractions: my dog, my mum, my phone, I always get side tracked and get nothing done. During the residency I finally got a comic finished which I’ve been working on for 2 years!

I also ran character design workshops with young people during my residency, I loved seeing the characters they made. I find how character looks and their backstory says a lot about the person who made them.

Now, let’s move to your creation… Tell us more about your comic, ‘Alien Agency’. What is it about, and where did you get the idea from?

I was living in Plymouth at the time, I graduated from University in the Autumn and it was now Spring. I had a job that I didn’t enjoy and was undiagnosed with depression at the time. It was pretty bad at that point and I felt very, very alone.

My sister came to visit and we wanted to make something together. We thought of a fun short story about two girls who had conflicting interests. For Fran it was Aliens, for Dakota she wanted to keep her secret safe.

We made a four-page comic about these characters and Alien Agency was born. Then 2 years passed, I was feeling a lot better and we picked it back up again. We spent probably a year planning the full story and rewriting it over and over. 

The story and the plot are very heavily inspired by tv shows me and my sister watched growing up. Such as ‘My parents are aliens’, ‘Invader Zim’ and ‘Doctor who’. The characters Fran and Dakota are based on ourselves so writing for them came very natural for us.

Is your comic, ‘Alien Agency’ a self-contained story, or can we expect a continuation?

It’s a story that will be continued. Fran needs to find an alien and Dakota needs to let her hair down.

Me and my sister are working on the next chapter. Where it starts with Fran in detention. The next chapter will explain the name of the comic as well. I want to contact a publisher to make it a graphic novel but everything is still in the drafts at the moment.

Are you currently working on any other existing projects?

I am but I can’t talk about it, the contract has been signed. But keep your eyes peeled for me in 2020.

On top of that, me and my sister are working on the next chapter for Alien Agency.

Can you tell us where can we purchase your work?

You can buy comics, t shirts at my online shop: https://cathgarvey.bigcartel.com/

Bonus question:

What is your favourite comic and why?

Emily Carroll’s ‘His face all red’. It’s a horror story about a jealous brother. She’s amazing with her use of colour, pacing of the story and her comics scare me in a good way.  You can read it here: http://emcarroll.com/comics/faceallred/01.html