Getting to Know Kate McGuinness

May 21st 2020

Wellington illustrator, Kate McGuinness, popped in to say hello this week and lucky for us, brought her artist's pen and paper to capture our humming university campus bookshop. As part of her 100 Day Project, the talented illustrator has showcased some of the capitol's best-loved cafes, retailers and hot spots on Insta during lockdown. We sat down with Kate and her gorgeous illustrations to talk about how she's kept us all connected to our favourite local hangs whilst we've been stuck at home. 

What’s your day job?

I am mum to Noelle (one) and Hugo (two), and work part-time in communications. More recently, I have been taking on illustration commissions, which is great fun.

What's your connection to Vic Books?

Vic Books feature as one day in my '100 day project' and the team have kindly offered to display my work in the Kelburn shop window. 

Tell us a little about your latest project.

My 100 day project involves illustrating Wellington's people and places.

Originally, I planned to illustrate a map of Newtown for my son, featuring our favourite local spots, such as the grocer, number one playground and library, but when I heard the 100 day project was starting up, I decided to expand the idea all of Wellington. I am drawn to shopfronts, cafes, restaurants but I also like to illustrate people.

I photograph a spot/person first, then sketch on paper before creating it digitally. I complete an illustration each day, then post it on instagram (studio.of.kate). The project has been such a wonderful distraction during lockdown. I find drawing is a nice way to wind down in the evenings.

Tell us a little about your favourite project so far.

Every scene I have illustrated has been a fun. I love to study the tiny details of a building, interior, or person's gestures. But, I particularly enjoyed illustrating Queen Sally's Diamond Deli (Lyall Bay). The cafe is so vibrant in real life, with its colourful facade and playful decor. It was a joy to draw.

What's the hardest thing to draw?

People I know. I can never get them right.

What are you reading at the moment?

Pat Barker's The Silence of the Girls.

Are you enjoying it? Why?

It's a great read. I'd like to learn more about Greek and Roman history, so this tale of the Trojan war (with a female protagonist) is an interesting start.

Which literary character do you most indentify with and why?

Are you familiar with 'the man with the yellow hat', from H.A. Rey's Curious George series? Sometimes I feel just like him, spending my days chasing after two curious little monkeys.

Hardback or paperback?


Best thing about working from home?

No one minds if I'm late. 

Black or white coffee? What kind of milk?

I'll have a 90s cappuccino with frothy soy on top please.