Auckland-based designer and illustrator Evie Kemp is a creative force to be reckoned with. Style director Lousie Hilsz gets the inside scoop on her very colourful life.
Tell us how you got into your career?
I studied graphic design at university and for my final exhibition I designed illustrated textiles. People were interested in those, so I sold some of that fabric as cushions and that led to doing prints, which I did for many years. Throughout that time I was always designing for my own home and spaces, and my 'career' just kind of came out of all that stuff joined together. A bit of illustration, interior design, textile design, styling and whatever else I can put my stamp on.
What’s a typical working day for you?
Always a hard question for me as I juggle all sorts of work, so each day is different. I try to dedicate a whole day to specific tasks rather than switching around. If I’m working on my art, or doing freelance illustration I like to get up, have a coffee or two, post to Instagram and catch up on emails. Then I’ll pop a podcast or Netflix on and work for a few hours either by hand or on my iPad. Around midday, I take my dogs out for a bush walk. Come back, eat something and keep going until dinner. Other days I might be driving around for meetings, spending the day with a design client rearranging furniture, rushing round shops sourcing stuff for a job, or (my favourite days) having a couple of meetings and a little bit of downtime to see friends.
Do you follow trends or is your style instinctive?
I think it’s instinctive but also I’m instinctively inclined to follow trends a bit. Trends aren’t a sure thing but sometimes you find they grow on you, and you can interpret them in your own way. I’m definitely not a slave to trends but I’m definitely not able to say I don’t follow them.
What has been a career high to date?
Ooh, that's tricky. I think my absolute high is a collaboration that will be revealed at the end of this month (July). I’ve designed a print for a local designer and am absolutely obsessed with what they’ve done with it. Total dream moment. Watch this space, I’ll be sharing the minute I can!
What do love most about your work?
I love that I’m able to live this crazy, creative life, and I love that through it I’m always finding myself. It sounds naff but it’s true. I like that it’s constantly evolving and changing.
Evie Kemp in her colourful, eclectic home.
On being an influencer
What does being an influencer mean to you?
It's an uncomfortable word but one we all have to get used to. For me, it's a reward and an aspect of work I do that enables me to live the life I have, and focus on my creativity. I put a lot of work, time, effort and passion into my social media account for those wonderful brands that pay me, and I approach it with the same creativity as my unpaid work. To me, these brands are my patrons and I think they're pretty cool to support some little weirdo with a rainbow on the wall, so that I'm able to do more creative projects off the back of it. On the flip side as a consumer, so much of what I purchase comes from a recommendation online, or I'm introduced to a new product via influencers. I know as a customer how effective this type of marketing is, I accept it's the future for brands, and that it really is worth something.
Where does your confidence come from?
Fake it until I make it. I feel I have a long way to go with confidence and so much of what I put out is testing the limits. I'm a big fan of following positive people online and letting their confidence, self-belief, body positivity, and enthusiasm for influence me! Everyone has moments of crippling self doubt, and it's good to remember you are not alone.
How do you deal with negative comments?
I'm very lucky, I rarely get negative comments, which is fortunate because I don't deal with them very well. I take everything very personally and get really upset if I think I've offended or upset someone, or someone thinks badly of me. That being said, there is a lot of negativity for the sake of negativity online and it's toxic. Block and delete, it's your space.
In a society obsessed with social media, where do you see the future going for you as a personal brand with integrity?
It works for me and my brand. So many of my projects are small, or one offs, with instagram I can reach thousands of people, and, they're not just random people, they're likeminded. I think social media is really changing in terms of integrity and "realness" and I think now, that most people are aware of that. Things like instagram stories are a vital part in keeping it real and staying honest, while still being able to explore your creativity through images. It's really important to not be 100 percent online only, ultimately real life connections are still so valuable and important.
What are your tips for others on being a successful influencer?
Don't try and become an influencer for the sake of being an influencer - do your own thing and work with brands that support you. Always say no to things that aren't a good fit, and know your worth. The idea of getting "presents" everyday is super alluring, and don't get me wrong - I totally love a good surprise, but value your followers and be mindful of what they respect and like you for - don't sell their trust for the value of a $20 candle, bag of muesli, or a lipstick that you don't really love. You can be grateful and graceful, but it's ok to value this as work. In terms of knowing your worth it's a tricky balance and differs from project to project, but I found signing up to The Social Club and using their little calculator really helpful in terms of getting a ballpark figure of industry expectations.
Follow Evie Kemp here
How would you describe your home?
Full! Colour pop, electric, a bit boho, retro and very eclectic.
What makes a great interior?
I believe a great room tells a story about the people who live there, and that when you’re in your home you feel comforted and re-energised by the objects, colours, textures and art you’ve chosen to surround yourself with.
What is your favourite room?
Usually my most recently decorated one! At the moment, though, I’m loving our bedroom and not just because I love sleeping. We recently fixed up our retro stereo headboard to play via Bluetooth and it’s just all my dreams come true. I found it a year ago for $100 and we had it in the garage until recently.
What are your favourite colour combinations?
Pink and red, pink and orange, pink and pink, pink and yellow.
What do you always have on your bedside table?
My Kindle. I love reading and even though it doesn't have the beauty of a real book, I love my kindle. I’ve just finished The Power by Naomi Alderman and loved it. I highly recommend it.
What are your most treasured possessions?
I have a lot of possessions and many of them are treasured. The leopard-print chair in our sunroom is a real family treasure for me. I have numerous pieces of art by close friends that mean the world to me too.
What's your best interior advice?
Trust yourself and remember that often what unifies objects is the fact you love and chose them and that will shine and create a cohesive look (that also doesn’t look like you just bought it straight off the showroom floor). Always mix old and new, and include pieces with personal meaning.
Where do we start to be more adventurous with colour in our homes?
Cushions! Buying a couple of colourful new cushions is an entirely low commitment way to add an instant hit of colour. Think about the colours you naturally gravitate towards, which is often what you choose to wear and introduce those tones into your home. If they make you happy, they’re going to look good.
Evie's dogs Pebbles and Biggie.
What is your skincare routine?
I’ve struggled with my skin all my life. I suffer from acne and everything that goes with years of that, such as redness, sensitivity and extreme dryness from taking repeated courses of acne drug Accutane. Eighteen months ago, after finishing another round of Accutane, I started on a skin health plan at Caci Clinic, which involves regular facials and treatments. They are a brand partner, so I stick to my therapist's product recommendations and while the results weren’t instant (they can’t be) I'm an absolute lifelong convert now.
For my daily skincare routine In the mornings I cleanse with L'Oréal Paris De Micellar Water, tone my skin with Murad toner, then apply a Murad serum (I mix from hydrating in winter to radiance in summer). After that, I apply the Murad Sunscreen Moisturizer, followed by the Murad Skin Perfecting Blur SPF30. At night, I remove my make-up with a MakeUp Eraser cloth, cleanse with Skinsmiths Cream Cleanser, and then tone with glycolic acid. Most days I use Pixi Glow Tonic, but a couple of times a week I use Alpha-H Liquid Gold (which I swear by). Finally, Murad moisturiser and Skinsmiths Eye Cream. I have a treatment every three weeks, either sonophoresis, microdermabrasion, or a light peel. The difference this has made to my confidence is huge, it sounds crazy but it’s changed my life. It is working for me, so I’m sticking with it.
What are your winter beauty bag essentials?
Bobbi Brown lipstick in Brownie, ColourPop eyeshadow palette in Yes, Please, and Clinique Super City Block Compact SPF 50. Winter is such a joy for me with my pale skin (us vampires) and I love ramping up the warm, autumnal tones and embracing my pale skin without going red from the sun.
What’s your favourite makeup look?
I love orangey-red shades on my eyes, teamed with a pale brown-red lip colour.
What make-up colour are you most drawn to?
Burnt orange, every time.
What is your top beauty tip?
To always wear a good sunscreen. But I also swear by using a glycolic acid toner at night to keep skin clear and even. I’m convinced it stops spots in their tracks!
The Beautiful Mind Series Vol 1 by Escentric Molecules. It's a total indulgence but such a gorgeous signature scent with a cool story.
Kemp's beauty bag
Who is your fashion icon?
Predictably, I adore Iris Apfel, also Elsa Schiaparelli, Solange Knowles, Jenna Lyons, Chloë Sevigny and Florence Welsh, but I’m influenced by so many people and different styles. I love my Pinterest page for saving images of all my favourite influences and the looks I love.
How would your friends describe your style?
Eclectic, a bit retro, clashing yet considered (ha, I hope anyway!). Basically the same as my interior look.
What bag will you carry this winter?
I have a multicoloured, furry sheepskin bag that I love using in winter. It’s totally mad but actually very practical!
Who are your favourite local and international fashion designers?
Locally I love Maaike, The Knitter, and Maggie Marilyn. Internationally, I’m just completely besotted with modern Gucci. Every single thing about it speaks to my soul.
What is your fashion weakness?
High-heel ankle boots. I just can’t get enough of them and wear them every day. The more colourful the better.
How has your career influenced your style?
My career means I’m free to wear whatever I want and, if anything, it encourages me to really have fun with fashion. It also allows me plenty of opportunities to dress up, which I love.
What’s your best piece of style advice?
Dare to be different and wear what makes you feel good – to hell with rules.
Photography Keryn Sweeney