A-Z of Kate Kozul
By Christina Karras
There is something to be said about knowing – and following – your passion from a young age. While some of us fumble around testing out careers, Kate Kozul has always had an attraction towards art. One so strong, it saw her move states and take solace in her practice. While her imagery is sometimes confronting and controversial, she tackles topics from the media with the hopes of starting a discussion, using real life figures as her inspiration. The imagery feels gutsy, expressive and most of all timely, covering everything from politics to mental illness.
Having developed such a unique style at only 19-years-old, we chatted to Kate about what art means to her, how she got here, and her favourite snacks.
Christina: You were originally from Perth, how, and why did you make the move to Melbourne?
Kate: I knew I wanted to move to Melbourne sometime after graduating school, but I wasn’t sure when. I had a lot of family issues that had fucked me up quite a bit. Honestly, my mental health was at its lowest point and I needed to escape from everyone. In my mind, I was kind of like fuck it, you can always go back and even if you last a week or a month that’s okay. I just needed a break. The city itself inspired me so much to begin with, which just made me want to move even more. It kind of just seemed like my path was going down that way.
C: You’ve previously mentioned that you've loved art since childhood, what attracted you to art from such a young age?
K: Dad told me I started drawing before I could walk or talk which is kind of cool, but I honestly don’t know. I remember watching TV shows and movies and almost becoming dazed from looking at the TV in such shock. Some shows like Round The Twist and Blues Clues always interested me, the colours and shapes looked incredible. I think it was my kind of “yoga” in a way. It relaxes me, allows me to zone out from the world for however long while creating. I could always rely on a pencil and paper to make me feel better.
C: What is your earliest, or perhaps your most special memory of art?
K: My earliest memory I was around 6 and for Christmas my mum and dad got me and brother Crayola sets. It had everything a little kid who loved to draw could want. Crayons, pencils, markers, paper. I can never forget how happy I was, it was like looking at my first art shop. Later, turned out my brother didn’t want his so I got two sets, and you bet I loved it.
C: Who is an artist you really admire?
K: I can’t pick one but some that I love include Van Gogh, Francis Bacon, Emilio Villalba and Marlene Dumas. Their work is just fucking incredible and soul hitting.
C: You've described your art as being your "manifesto.” What does that mean to you?
K: In most of my paintings I try to add my personal manifesto within the works. My own thoughts, feelings, values and rules for myself are very important to me. It keeps me grounded and level headed, but most importantly it's more for myself. That I know elements are in the painting that only I can only pick up, and not the viewer, which I like.
C: Your use of lines is often frenzied and surrealist, depicting real life figures. What considerations go into your use of colour and subject matter?
K: I know It sounds silly but I don’t plan when I’m drawing. When drawing I just pick up whatever I feel like, whatever draws me in the most. If it looks like it needs it, I grab a red but I never think about it really. It’s just subconsciously there while I’m doing it. For subject matter, it’s almost the same thing where I don’t think about it too much. For me at least whenever I think about a concept too much it gets lost and feels unsettling. If I have an idea and just go for it, it’s a release for my brain. It’s like something I gotta get off my chest otherwise it will bother me.
C: What do you think people get wrong about being an artist?
K: Most people don’t understand the art industry and how much of it is business related. I see people assume it’s just painting and yes that’s true, but there is so much more that goes into it, let alone selling a painting than you would know. You’ll spend so long painting but then if you want to sell a painting you’ve got to calculate the amount spent to the exact amount to make it back. It can be stressful but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.
C: Painting or Drawing?
K: I can’t pick which one is better, but I love both. Drawing is more quick for me, like ink drawings and watercolour which I can do very quickly. It’s more for when I have ideas flushing out my brain that I just need to get it on paper quickly. Painting is more thought out and more relaxing, I take my time and let my brain be free.
C: Watercolour or acrylic paint?
K: Yes! I love watercolour a lot and recently been getting into gouache. Acrylic I used to use a lot but not so much any more unless I need to paint and have something that needs to dry quick. Or I use acrylic as a base layer for paintings, again mostly because it’s quick drying.
C: Sweets or savory snacks?
K: Sweet snacks, Tim Tams are a big yes from me - but I also love a good coconut rough.
C: Podcasts or music?
K: That’s a tough one. I love both. If I need deep concentration usually music but just instrumental or low-fi beats. But if I’m chilling out I love lyrical music, and podcasts or documentaries.