Kate Moross is an art director, illustrator, and graphic designer whose work includes moving imagery, typography, and illustration. In 2012, Moross founded Studio Moross, a London-based multidisciplinary design company — as an expansion upon their own work and a way to collaborate with other creatives.

Moross recently agreed to create a work of art with our new Adobe x Keith Haring digital brush set (now available to all). We spoke to Moross about Keith Haring, about art making, and about the new brushes. 

Adobe Create: Thank you so much for the piece that you did for us. We love it!

 

Kate Moross: I’m so glad to hear that.

 

Create: Was there a reason you chose that specific quote?

 

Moross: I think I chose it because I was doing a digital painting — and obviously Keith had so many amazing quotes. There are a few from him that I’ve always liked. When I was looking for one, “The best reason to paint is that there is no reason to paint” really worked with the whole concept of the project.

 

Create: You have a lot of job titles: art director, illustrator, graphic designer, and founder of Studio Moross. Tell me about your path to becoming such a skilled designer who isn’t defined by one job title?

 

Moross: When I was at university, I was already embedding myself in the music scene and working in the fashion and culture worlds, making things for small bands and clubs, record labels, and magazines. I wasn’t hugely experienced with computer software yet, so I was doing a lot of stuff by hand in a low-fi way — and that’s how I cut my teeth: making flyers and logos and things like that.

 

Then I tried to add a few strings to my bow, so I learned Dreamweaver and started building sites for people, and I used this as a currency. It cost thousands and thousands of pounds to get a website made, and there were no template sites available, so if you knew some basic HTML, you could build basic sites and then that led to more and more work. Some of my illustration work got picked up by the more commercial illustration world, and I got commissioned to do some advertisements. I was learning everything as I went and very much trying to keep up with myself, both technically and from a business point of view.

At that point I considered myself a good graphic designer and illustrator, and I did that for a while, until I started developing more of an interest in music and art direction specifically. So I started a label and started releasing records and art-directing bands. Then I started my studio, and started working with larger teams. And in the past couple of years, I’ve started to refer to myself as a creative director and do creative direction for bands, musicians, and brands.

 

I include all of the things I’ve done as my job—from the very smallest things: I’m often the artworker and the resizer, the spell checker, or whatever. I do all of that stuff, and I also do work where I don’t create anything but just lead the team of people making things. It’s a full spectrum.

Moross used the new Keith Haring brushes to illustrate one of their favorite quotes by the artist. 

Create: Are there specific elements of Keith Haring’s work that influenced you in your work and career?

 

Moross: I don’t remember the first time I encountered his work. I was born in 1986, so Keith’s work was very much part of the cultural zeitgeist and the visual design world when I was a kid. It’s very nostalgic for me. It really feels familiar, and I think for me, struggling with wanting to do design but also loving the fine art world, Keith’s attitude toward making and creating work was so free and so open, and it didn’t have any snobbery or pretentiousness to it whatsoever. I feel like it kind of allowed me to do and make whatever I wanted, however I wanted — whether it was drawing on a wall or a pair of shoes, or making posters, or screen-printing t-shirts. All of that stuff that he did, I felt like I had permission to do, and I didn’t have to paint oil paintings and sell them for thousands of pounds. I could just do whatever work I wanted, and it could be fast and quick and temporary and all of these things that I feel like his work is about.

 

 

Create: Haring’s quote “Art is for everybody” is key to this campaign, and it sounds like this is something that really resonates with you?

 

Moross: I think that quote sums it all up and just his attitude of how he started and how generous he was as a person, not just with his artwork but also with his time. On a community level, he really brought his identity into the picture, and he was incredibly authentic and was himself at all times — as much as you could be in that time in that world.

Create: Before Instagram came along, designers and artists weren’t really part of the conversation except in very unique cases like Keith’s. Now social media has flipped that entirely on its head, and all designers are now at the forefront. Can you give any advice on how to forge your own identity online?

 

Moross: It’s really difficult to give advice because the career trajectory that got me here is now out of date. Everything has changed so much since the early 2000s when I started working my way in to some sort of career. However, I do think that more than ever as a designer or artist or illustrator — whatever you do — who you are seems to be as important as what you’re making. When I first started designing and illustrating and working with art buyers and big commercial clients, my identity was completely irrelevant. They didn’t care who I was or what I had done; they mainly just cared if I had worked with a conflicting client. Now, who you are is as important as the work you make, and I think that can give you an edge in a competitive environment such as Instagram…I think brands are more aware of the types of people they’re working with and want to find authentic relationships with their vendors. I think you shouldn’t just develop a style; you should develop your personal brand alongside your visual brand if you feel comfortable doing that...it’s really tricky. It’s an interesting time, but I’d hate to give advice to emerging artists and designers because it’s difficult for me to have any context of what it might be like for them now.

Create with brushes inspired by Keith Haring.

Draw a line for positive change with chalk, markers, spray paint and more.

Create: The Keith Haring digital brushes were based on analog tools that Haring would have used, extending them into the digital space and enabling even more people to use them. Does that say anything to you about how technology has become a tool of artistic expression, and the value of that?

 

Moross: I love the digital space; it’s very convenient for me to be able to re-create real materials using a computer, because it makes things faster, and being quick and efficient is my most required skill, for myself and for my clients. So I love being able to use materials that have been digitized to make things feel more human or to capture the spirit of something handmade. It’s something I’ve definitely enjoyed a lot more in the past few years since Kyle Webster started producing brushes for Photoshop — I guess since the demand for this kind of work and these kinds of styles has increased. I broke my hand a few years ago, and that has really limited how much I can use physical materials because I don’t have the same dexterity and strength I used to, and I get cramps quite a lot — but I don’t when I use the tablet, so that’s been really amazing for me.

 

I also don’t have an entire library of materials that I can draw from in the real world all of the time. With the digital brushes, you can use tools like a spray can, which would take a long time to learn to use in the way that Keith did. With the brushes, I think I have everything I could ever want at this point. 

Create: Do you have any advice on staying motivated and focused for anyone who might be struggling to create right now?

 

Moross: I think that having plans to make things and create things helps. It’s a rare opportunity to not have the major distractions that we normally have. We’re all struggling right now, but I’m very fortunate that I have a brief and a client and that keeps me glued to the table most days. But I’m also growing things and cooking. I just hope everyone is OK!

 

I can’t wait for these brushes to be released. They are so nice. There was a moment when I was doing a painting and drew a line, and I just looked at it and thought, “That’s Keith Haring right there!” It gave me chills. Obviously, I wasn’t trying to emulate his style in any way; I just used the pens to make this mark, and I really felt like he had come out of my pen and on to the screen. And that was really cool.

Enter our contest and draw for change.

Draw attention to an issue that’s close to your heart and your art could be showcased in front of a worldwide audience at Adobe MAX. Grand Prize winners will also receive $5,000 and a one-year Creative Cloud membership.

© Keith Haring Foundation