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You’re going to love this inspiring chat with self-proclaimed “vision hunter”, Kate Stroud, the artist behind Stroud de’Signs. We talk all things art, community and the nature of collaboration. Read our conversation with Kate below:

Hi Kate! Tell us a bit about yourself and your practice:

I am a vision hunter, a visual communicator, a self taught sign painter and artist. My hands are identical to my mums which gifted me all of my creativity. I have always been obsessed with typography, lettering and design, starting with covering school books and drawing the titles on them for each subject… I was always drawing. One day a friend asked if I would do a chalk board at her new job for $50 – I took pictures of it, made a facebook page and it snow balled from there, 12 years later I run my own creative studio ‘Stroud de’ Signs’ working full time creating brands, signs and murals for businesses from the Northern Rivers to Perth and beyond.

How did you start creating works in public spaces?

The nature of my work is rooted in collaboration, be it with businesses, creatives, councils or community groups. I ran a small music lounge which I designed the interior for, painted murals, signs and styled every single detail. I believe from this work and painting walls in my own home, documenting them and sharing online I was able to create a portfolio for people to understand what I could offer and it organically started from there. One of my early bigger walls was the ‘Cool To Be Kind’ mural in the Back Alley Gallery. I remember saying to myself when moving to Lismore that ‘one day I will paint a wall in the BAG’ when it happened 7 years later I was so over the moon. That wall has been a huge in propelling my career forward in the mural painting/street art space.



On your profile you mention being a Maker and a Facilitator, can you tell us about this duality in your work?

My formal education was in Music, completing the Contemporary Music Degree at SCU, the reason that I landed in Lismore. I am the granddaughter of publicans so hosting and creating community is in my blood. I am very good at creating parties/events and bringing people together, which I have focused around creative outcomes such as short film, live music, art exhibitions and festivals. For me they are two sides of the same coin. As an artist you create to share with other humans, to be witnessed in your creative offering and use it as a tool to connect. Without the space to share what you have made, the making itself can feel pointless. Creativity needs energy, inspiration, is meant to be shared and celebrated. Being a facilitator is symbiotic with being an artist, they are one another’s life force. I get great joy from making and great joy in seeing how they are engaged with once I have set them free into the world. I love that moment during an event when everyone is engaged, happy and feeling loved up by the work and each other, thats what it is all about!

Can you speak about the importance of community in your practice?

Humans can’t exist as an island. Modern life demands and the way we have been driven into isolation by the way we live makes the need for community more important than ever. If I am only ever in my own company I am creating my own echo chamber which isn’t conducive to growth or expansion. When I create work for other people I am taking their needs, vision and ‘vibe’ and I am distilling it into a creative representation of who I think they are mixed with my skill set & style. Without the interaction of this collaboration this work would have never emerged from my hands. This work is equal parts me + them and as people have different needs and desires I am constantly learning from people through the physical act of making. Community is so very important in supporting local businesses. I get to witness the ‘opening/infancy’ stage of peoples dreams and nurture their vision into the world, sharing not only the work we have produced but also their business with my networks. This cross pollination is what has grown my business to a point where word of mouth is the main way I get work. This also means clients are better aligned, it remains more personable and I believe everyone wins in that energy.



Your work is so specific to the environment it sits in, how do you get from concept to installation?

I have developed an interactive way to ‘weed’ out the essence of my clients. I give them some ‘homework’ to do so I can know them more deeply before we get moving on a project. If I can understand them more I am able to yield better results. It is a very personal process which is important because the work needs to feel like it authentically represents them/their business in order to connect with their clients and create the community they want around the work that they do. I have an extremely visual brain and generally from the first conversation I am seeing concepts that I feel would work in the space and I then match that up with the info I collect from the client and it somehow makes magic.

Any advice for emerging artists with an interest in public art?

Just start. Even if in the beginning you are only making for yourself, paint a wall at home, document it, put it out there and keep working on your skill set and style. Reach out to people who you look up to and ask questions. Head to local events and meet people, share your work and your dreams, people always want to be around people like that, they very well might take you with them. Trust yourself and your authentic creative expression, you know the way forward, none else can tell you where you are going.



Do you have any exciting news / projects / shows coming up?

I am working on a Transport NSW & LCC project called ‘Her Way Safe Cities’ a project that identifies areas in cities that may be unsafe for woman and gender diverse people to walk around at night time. I am contributing to the Laneway artwork to brighten up a thoroughfare for this project. I have an ongoing project with the Tenterfield National Monument Association reconstructing original signage from historical photographs which has been a fun challenge to reimagine and learn from century old sign painters work. Later in the year I have a typographic exhibition at The Levee Bar which I will be testing out some new gilding work for – EXCITING!

You can find out more about Kate and her work on her NRC profile: Stroud de’Signs or keep up to date with her work via her Instagram page. 


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