(Photography by Johnny Lam)
I am Kate Golding, and I am a surface pattern designer.
I got my degree in Fine Art back in England and moved to Canada in 2000. I worked first at The Toronto Film Studios and then in advertising in Toronto and had a great job, executive producer of a post-production facility editing television commercials. That was my life for 10 years.
At the same time I had begun to think about changing my career, my partner Johnny Lam and I made the bold decision to leave the city altogether and move to Prince Edward County. I had wanted to leave the advertising industry and work creatively again.
My time in Toronto was amazing. I had lots of brilliant experiences, a great condo and loved everything the city offered. I enjoyed eating out at restaurants and downtown shopping. But I had started to feel a bit like a hamster on a wheel, just working on the grind. I wanted to do more actual living and be more in touch with nature again. I worked long hours in advertising … having said that starting my own business takes very long hours too! But I like working for myself and building my own future.
Johnny had already looked into moving to Prince Edward County before we met. I had been here once before to Sandbanks. To start with I thought I would visit on weekends but it didn’t take me long at all to make the decision to leave my job, pack it all up and move.
I definitely took a pay cut moving here to say the least. I knew before making the move that I would be giving up certain luxuries. Honestly though I wouldn’t change it for anything. I enjoy simple pleasures and don’t feel like I am missing out on anything. I feel like I have gained in abundance. I didn’t even have my drivers licence when we first came here and we moved to the middle of nowhere. You can imagine how challenging that was for a while!
We have met so many great people here. The County has such a mix of people from very eclectic backgrounds. Lots of people who have grown up here and lots who have come from totally different places. Some of our closest new friends are farmers and we love sharing in their life and lots of new experiences for us. Relationships feel very genuine and I have a strong feeling that these people will be in our lives for a long time.
Strange as it sounds, many people close to me know that I have always wanted to create wallpaper. When I finished my degree in Newcastle-upon-Tyne I hand screen-printed wallpaper as part of my degree show. In my years working in television commercials I often thought of this but never had the time to pursue designing or creating. I am now following my dream and the timing feels right.
I like to create my artwork by hand with fine line pen, brush and ink. I have a large 1060’s light table, which I found second hand and I use it to lay out my designs and create the layers of the art work on transparencies. I then scan these pieces and bring them into the computer to layer the artwork and create the repeat designs.
I am currently working with Canadian manufacturers to print my fabric and my upcoming line of wallpaper, which will be available soon. Currently I offer table napkins, tea towels and cushions. It has all been a massive learning curve for me but I am thrilled with the direction my business is taking. I used to think I wanted to do all my own hand printing but I am loving the opportunities that come with collaborating with companies who print for me. I am thrilled about the people I am working with for the wallpaper production and am so excited that it will be available for purchase soon.
Honestly my naivety and lack of experience has probably been to my benefit. I blindly jumped off a cliff into this. One of my more unique motifs the Water Towers has become my most popular and talked about design. Friends seeing my work for the first time said “Woah, I wasn’t expecting that!” I have taken this response as a compliment!! My first collection of designs also includes Turkey Vultures, Canada Geese, Lilac, Strawberry Social (inspired my the most charming Cherry Valley annual event at the Athol Recreation Centre) and Hallowell Cove (featuring the most pretty dancing sailboats in a cove close to Picton). I also have a tree print featuring Eastern Red Cedar trees, which is named Chuckery Hill after a local road. People have responded well to the local connection to the work.
I feel very inspired by my surroundings and often imagine how different things would look as repeated patterns across a wall. Taking notes and jotting down ideas… some things work well and other ideas get set aside or saved for a later date.
Ted Pickering of SHED Chetwyn, a local alpaca farm approached me about a unique collaboration back in the winter. I am so thrilled with how my Alpaca design has worked out and it now appears on a tea towel, which can be purchased at the farm. The Alpaca design will also be available as wallpaper and I already have a number of interested parties looking to decorate their children’s bedrooms with alpacas!
I was also so thrilled to be approached by Alex Fida of Angeline’s to have my wallpaper featured in the rooms of the inn. The response has been fantastic and I am really looking forward to the opportunity for customers to be able to purchase the paper for their homes. The paper is printed on demand and this allows for the designs to be ‘expansive’ and not limited to a small scale. The results are dramatic as can be seen in the Turkey Vulture wallpaper installed at the inn.
My products are available locally in the County at Zest Kitchen Shop, Kokito, Norman Hardie Winery, The Tuck Shop at Angeline’s, Coriander Girl and SHED Chetwyn. My product is also available in Toronto which is so wonderful. Things have come full circle and it is great to have my work sold at city establishments. Also my wallpaper will be available internationally! It has been an amazing first year for my business and the success of the product has been a really pleasant surprise for me. It is amazing to hear feedback from the retailers, especially when customers are coming in specifically looking for a design and being really disappointed if it has sold out. When people respond to your work, talk about it and want it, it is an amazing feeling… I don’t think that feeling ever goes away! Chatting with one of my stockists, she believes that the people buying my work are 50% local folk and 50% tourists. That is really great. My Crystal Palace design is definitely a County favourite. I am so appreciative of all the local support!
I am good friends with a prominent local chef and his wife. She received one of my tea towels for her birthday and she won’t let him use it but likes to keep it on show. This makes me laugh. I also have friends who buy the tea towels and frame them on their wall. It is really special that people like my work and want to do that.
I am very busy and Johnny is very busy too. He is a professional photographer. He specializes in portraits, food and travel. Although he hasn’t had to reinvent himself in moving here, his business has also evolved greatly. He travels often but is also working a lot locally which is wonderful. I am very lucky to have him photograph my work and for his support and encouragement in following my dream. We both find Prince Edward County very nurturing, inspiring and a great place to base. It is the community feeling and being surrounded by so many creative people that fuels my drive. There is very much a united feeling of being creative and supporting one another. The creative community here is alive and rich and I love that there are people from all walks of life, different ages, working in lots of different mediums. There’s painting and photography and pottery, and then there are people making wine and food. It is so fun and fulfilling to be designing wallpaper in this environment. The creative vibration here touches the whole community and beyond.
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