Kathryn Briggs: I was a fan and a reader for many years before attempting to make one of my own; I studied fine art, instead. But while doing my Masters I was drawn to the idea of art that exists outside of a gallery setting, and creating art that is affordable. Plus, I was looking into the Hero archetype, so all roads pointed to graphic novels!
F: Who or what inspires your art/writing?
KB: Mythology, nature, fairy tales and ancient stories, and an obsession with history; what stories to people tell over and over, and what stories are we forgetting to tell? And I have to say the amazing creators who make indie comics inspire me to keep working and keep improving. You’d be hard pressed to find a harder working (and nicer!) bunch of people.
F: How do your paintings inform your writing and/or vice versa?
KB: I usually have a story arc that I’m following, but the details tend to come into focus with the visuals. I don’t stick with one visual style throughout a book (or even a single comic issue), but sort of let the page’s contents dictate the art.
F: What do your hope to accomplish by focusing on women protagonists and nontraditional story-telling?
KB: I felt like stories told from a female perspective were underrepresented through the ages. Jane Austen says it much better than I can: “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.” When half of the population hasn’t been able to contribute their perspective on what this whole being human business is about, how can we expect to have the whole picture? I think I’m trying to gain back some of that lost ground and fill in the gaps a bit.
F: You’ve collaborated with other writers/artists in the past. What have you taken away from those experiences?
KB: It’s refreshing to step outside of your own head! It’s also refreshing to try something completely different and to do something for fun and out of the friendship and respect you have for another artist or writer.
F: Tell us about your publishing company. What type of material do you look for?
KB: I’m interested in publishable art; books or other formats that are beautiful and easily reproducible, so therefore affordable. I started it out of a sense of frustration about submitting my work to other publishers; it never seemed to quite fit in anywhere, so I decided to make a publishing company elusively for things that don’t fit in!
F: Tell us about the Ex Libris Book Fair.
KB: Ex Libris has a similar ethos, really. Its open to any kind of book creator, rather than being genre specific (such as comic cons, zine fairs, or artist book fairs). Ex Libris is a part of Dundee Literary Festival and has been a part of Glasgow’s Aye Write! Book Festival. I love the idea of bringing local, grassroots talent into book fairs that boast big names in publishing.
F: What advice can you give to young writers/artists
KB: Keep going! It’s lonely work sometimes, it’s hard to find your own voice and develop your craft. Just remember that it takes time, but keep writing and keep arting. And don’t forget to be forgiving to yourself; if you hate it, toss it in the trash, if you love it (no matter how it stacks up against anyone else’s work), shout it from the rooftops. Also, staring out the window or watching cat videos all day is a legitimate part of the creative process; your break through epiphany will most likely come in the shower or at 4:30am or while waiting for your toast.
Kathryn Briggs originally hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia. In 2012 she moved to Scotland to pursue her Masters, and currently lives in Bad Zwischenahn, Germany with her husbeast, but one day soon they’ll be back in Scotland. She owns a small publishing company (Ess Publications), she is a youth worker, runs Ex Libris Book Fair, has an ever-growing book addiction, and drinks too much coffee.