I'm actually allergic to coffee.

She’s the infamous judge of my #frankcoffeeart competition, but she’s allergic to coffee. It was something we had to get over together, but we’ve come out the other side… just.

She lives in a treehouse, appreciating nature as much as she does a good sketch or two. Safe to say, we’re the best of friends. Meet Kelly Thompson, illustrator and co-director of UNA.

What’s the first thing you think of when you wake up?

That it can’t be that time already…

Then, what’s the first thing you do?

I always go to the loo and get straight into the shower within a few minutes of my alarm going off.

Illustration doesn’t come naturally to all babes. Do you believe it is something you can learn? And any tips and tricks?

You can definitely learn a lot of techniques and practice like crazy to get better. I always say that it doesn’t matter what your style is, you just have to own it, and create lots of work in that style.

In saying that; some people just blow my mind and it doesn’t matter how much I practice I could never have what they have!

My biggest tip would be to draw in every spare moment you have. They always say it takes 10,000 hours to become a master, so you better get busy.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about learning to illustrate?

Always find your own way and develop your own style. If you’re constantly copying others, you will only ever be compared to them. You want to be the original.

What’s your favourite piece of your work?

Probably Lilli; I always remember her as a turning point in my style, and she has my favourite eyes. (See above)

Do you doodle when you’re on the phone/in a waiting room? If so, what’s the most common thing you draw?

All the time! I usually draw random squiggly lines, triangles and shapes… Never anything like my usual work, just mindless pen to paper.

You’ve recently partnered to create your own creative studio, UNA. Why did you go out on your own?

Andrew Archer (UNA co-director) and I both felt like we had ticked many of our goals and we needed new challenges. More and more clients were interested in us not only for our illustration, but for creative direction, ambassadorial work and general ideas, so we decided why not offer them the full package. We also have the most inspiring community of creative friends and we really want to be able to engage them too, to make beautiful visuals no matter what the final output.

Best thing you’ve learnt in launching the business?

Combining talents only makes you stronger.

And the hardest?

The hardest thing is knowing when to expand and how exactly to do it.

You constantly have different shaped and coloured nails.

Is this something you’ve always done? Do they ever get in the way of your drawing and scrubbing? #letsbefrank

Haha yeah I’m a bit of a fingernail fan, if I never broke them they would always be pointy!

For some reason despite the general lack of dairy in my diet I just have claws that grow and grow. Funnily enough I used to be a crazed nail biter when I was a kid, and my mum used to paint them with that yucky tasting polish. I soon learnt to enjoy the taste though and nothing would stop the chomping! I don’t even remember when I stopped biting them, but now I’m a weekly file and painter and always like to test out new colours.

People always ask if they get in the way of drawing, but they don’t at all. I think because they just grow naturally I adapt without realising. I’m sure if they were stuck on long fakeys it would feel much different!

Where do you find inspiration for nail art?

I used to see things on the internet all the time, but now I just make things up myself. They’re a lot more toned down than they used to be!

Do you think your dog would like coffee?

I know for a fact she does! She’s a big rubbish bin raider always sniffing and licking takeaway coffee cups.

My mama said you turned her into a crazy plant lady. What’s your favourite plant you own, and what advice would you give to people wanting to turn their home or office into a jungle?

I love the home jungle – good crazy plant mama!! My favourite plant is the Monstera Deliciosa or anything with big dark glossy leaves that grows really big! My tips would be:

  1. Repot them as soon as you get them so they have room to grow
  2. Rotate them and move them around the house to see where they are happiest.
  3. Fully drench once a week (less in winter), and never spritz ferns.
  4. Fertilise at the start of growth seasons
  5. Watch them and get to know them. You can usually figure out if they’re happy or unhappy by paying attention.

The perfect bunch of flowers a man-babe should get his #1 babe?

I always like weird looking ones that are not pink! Or foraged ones he gathered himself.

5 products we’d always find in your bathroom?

  • Marvis Toothpaste
  • Blamage perfume by Nasomatto
  • Rationale hand cream
  • MAC Russian Red lipstick
  • Coconut Oil

If you were a scrub, what flavour would you be?

hmmm trying not to be distracted by my tastebuds and choose something that reflects me… Andrew said I’m raspberry… I think he was distracted by my hair.

Who should I put on my to scrub / dirty talk list next?

Jo Duck or Eirian Chapman!

Don’t forget to follow Kelly and keep up to date with my #frankcoffeeart competition. And the winner is…

xx frank

I'm actually allergic to coffee.