Meet Kaye Blegvad

Kaye Belgvad for Passerbuys57.jpg
Kaye Blegvad is an illustrator and maker-of-things, born and raised in London and now based in Brooklyn. As well as working as an illustrator, Kaye makes ceramic sculptures and homewares, a line of jewelry under the name Datter Industries, and runs Horizontal Press, a grubby small press. 

on her morning routine

My routine is pretty simple: wake up, throw myself in the shower, feed the cat, make coffee, and leave for the studio.

on her background in art

I did toy with the idea of doing fine art or textile design when I was a teenager, but really it’s been a pretty inevitable path. My degree was in illustration, and I've been working as an illustrator ever since. I also make 3D work, textiles, products, and jewelry. It all feels related to illustration in the end. It’s all drawing based and trying to communicate an idea.

Both my parents are amazing artists. My dad’s work has a more obvious link to mine. He’s an illustrator whose subject matter tends to be a little dark and surreal, which has fed into my work. My mum is a painter, and her work tends toward the joyful and celebratory, something I don’t do enough, but her use of line work, texture, elements of abstraction, color choices have been an influence on me too.

on her interest and career in jewelry

Jewelry started as a hobby by making things that I wanted to wear. Then it took off and became a business without my realizing it. The nice thing about jewelry is that it’s easy to make multiples of the same thing. Because all my pieces are cast, once you have a mold, you can make as many as you want. I’ve really tried to resist letting it turn into a "fashion brand." I don’t make seasonal collections, so I only release new pieces when I’m genuinely excited. Sometimes that takes a long time and it isn’t a great business model, but I don’t want to churn stuff out just for the sake of it. I need to believe in what I'm making. 


Kaye's favorite books
I only discovered Vivian Gornick’s work this year, and it has completely blown my mind. “Fierce Attachments” is a non-linear, riveting memoir on her relationship with her mother. It also deals with her relationships to men, women, femininity in general, work, and the world. I love reading her stream-of-consciousness writing, and I relate to a lot of it more than I’ve related to other writing before. Now I’ve got to read everything she’s ever written.
— on her favorite book

on the new york creative scene

New York feels like it has more opportunities for me, at the moment. Most of the freelance work I get is from clients based in New York, and I think it helps to be present. I’ve found it easier to find suppliers and manufacturers here than it was in London. I feel lucky to know a lot of inspiring people here making illustrations, products, and creative businesses. Of course all that happens in London, but there’s a little more variety here. It makes me want to keep working hard and keep moving forward.

on making ceramics as a hobby

Ceramics has always been a bit of a sideline for me that I do to relax or have fun. I go to a ceramics studio once a week and make what I want. It’s nice keeping it personal. I like not having deadlines or pressure with it, especially because it’s such an unpredictable process. Whenever I did try to make things to order, those would be the pieces that go wrong. Too much heartbreak!

on coming up with new projects and creations

I’m working on some metal homewares like coat hooks, incense holders, and bottle openers. I spend a lot of time emailing big industrial factories. I’m also working on various personal projects like zines, collections of drawings, a series of sculptures, and conceptual candles. I’ve trashed my kitchen with pouring wax and storing all the supplies. I hope they might see the light of day. It’s a steep learning curve and another impractical business model! It’s been exciting rediscovering that process and part of my brain.

I’m really inspired by ancient jewelry, artifacts, and talismans. I have a huge archive of images of Ancient Greek, Egyptian, and Roman jewelry. I love the simplicity and power in those designs. I hope to make things that channel that and can be worn for a long time. It’s quite special to hear from customers what a piece of jewelry means to them. I’m glad to have made things that people find meaningful.
— on her inspiration for jewelry

Top, Vintage

on her style and shopping habits

My aesthetic is comfortable black clothes. I throw some grey or navy in there if I’m really feeling ostentatious. I don’t like to feel conspicuous, and I don’t like having to think about what I’m going to wear on any given day. I just want to be unrestricted and only semi-visible.

I usually try to get in and out of a store as quickly as possible, and I only go to nearby stores. I like Alter and Wolves Within in Greenpoint. I go to Aritzia because it’s right by where I get supplies in the Diamond District. If I need something, I buy several variations online to try them on.

on her beauty routine and recommendations

I’ve had phases where I make a good effort to use a face wash or a fancy moisturizer, but after a month I determine that it’s made no difference and give up. I use a prescription acne wash, and I have TatCHA Camellia Cleansing Oil which I like. It makes me feel like I’m being virtuous when I remember to use it.

I’m equally clueless about make up. All the products I use are things friends told me were good, and I diligently bought them. Occasionally, I put on Bobbi Brown SPF 15 Tinted Moisturizer, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer, or mascara if I’m pulling out all the stops. I wear NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil when I want to feel tough.

My best advice is to make the work you wish you were being hired to do. It’s good to hope you’ll get hired to do interesting things, but until those jobs come to you, do it for yourself. I wanted to make jewelry, and it could have been cool if a company had hired me to design jewelry for them. They didn’t, so I made it myself. Many of my friends had their careers start the same way, with publishing, and textiles. Eventually, clients will start coming to you. Allow me to misquote “Field of Dreams” here: if you build it, they will come.
— some advice for entrepreneurs

Pajamas by Kaye

kaye's favorite books

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis, Fierce Attachments by Vivian Gornick, Women in Clothes by Sheila Heti, Autobiography of Red by Anne Carson

kaye's favorite movies

A Hard Day's Night, Die Hard, Notting Hill, The Beaches of Agnès

kaye's favorite places in nyc

I like Lover's Rock in Bed Stuy. Good Music and a good backyard.

Turkey's Nest for taking you to a dark place.

Doris for taking you to a lighter place.

Doctor's Cave Cafe has such good homemade food and lovely people.

Paulie Gees for fancy pizza.

The dollar pizza place near Nostrand Ave station for actually pretty good pizza at the right price.

Dress, Aritzia

Dress, Aritzia

— Photography by Maggie Shannon