Katie Brightside - Where Wallpaper and Art Meet
Wallpaper has become the must-have décor item for the home. It can transform both the look and feel of a space. It is a fabulous way to add glamour, elevate a look, make a statement, find tranquility, or cozy up a room. From wall-to-wall, a feature wall, ceiling, and wall murals, all wallcoverings to any surface in a room are a great way to add style and create your perfect oasis.
Artist, illustrator Katie Brightside, AKA Miss Brightside, has created a series of ready-made murals and large-scale artwork that re-defines wallpaper. She creates chimerical and romantic artwork that not only illuminates a room but one’s spirit. Her illustrations are enchanting, almost intoxicating as the viewer is transported to a world that is plucked from the artist’s mind.
Hailing from across the pond, Miss Brightside, is the founder of the Welcome to the Brightside Agency, where she has created custom wallpapers, books, illustrations, installations and more. The City of Hope recently commissioned her to design skylight artwork for their MRI and Vaults rooms. Her clients have included Tart the restaurant located at The Farmer’s Daughter, Disney Australia, Kimpton La Peer Hotel, Sesame Street Australia, West Hollywood Design District, The Magic Castle, Yamashiro Hollywood, City of West Hollywood, the American Cancer Society, Pasadena Showcase House, and the Four Seasons Hotel Resorts Costa Palma, to name a few.
Brightside is also set to collaborate with Hyatt Hotels global interior design team on the remodel of 239 rooms with feature-walls of the infamous Andaz Hotel, Sunset Strip, in early 2023.
When were you first introduced to art and when did you decide you want to be an artist?
Katie Brightside: I think I was born an artist, I felt affiliation to anyone whose creative outlet reflected their personal journey. The stage was an escapism for a while whilst I figured life out, I had two left feet, the acting was wooden and my singing, well, I just shouldn’t for the safety of everyone’s ear holes. I sat, pondered, and thought I want to become the next Alexander McQueen, so I taught myself to sew.
After graduating a BA (Hons) Fashion Design, I accepted my first job in fashion in Italy. In 2002 I moved to Australia and worked in the industry there for 10 years. I had become miserable with my career, so I implemented a change. After my days’ work, I would go home and make art for nine hours, sleep for 4-5 hours then back to paid work, after six months of this I had my first solo art show, it was a huge success. I quit my job, I quit Australia and moved back to the UK and applied to Central Saint Martin’s for MA in Fine Art.
In 2015 with a new lease of life and a Master’s, I moved to LA. My original Airbnb host introduced me to her interior design friend, who offered me my first gig illustrating. Seven years later I am sitting here writing this journey. I could never have predicted life’s twist and turns. But I can say it was worth the journey. You just have to commit to the idea of being the artist you were born to be!
Wallpaper is no longer just for the living room, we see bathrooms, even outdoor areas adorned with decorative wall designs and murals, why do you think this is changing? Any favorite projects you have done where your wallpaper was used in an unconventional setting?
Feature walls have been a dominating trend in the exterior and interior scene for a while. The reason for innovation has come out of the street art scene. Outdoor mural painters have evolved inside and vice versa. I think it’s an evolution of art. It’s an exciting time to be an artist.
I love restrooms, it’s a personal favorite, especially in a restaurant setting. I like to create a wonderland that’s unexpected. You may be on a bad Tinder date and get an opportunity to text your BFF, but you forget because the environment changes your mood. It does lead to a clearing of one’s perspective and you can return to the date either with the mindset “I will love that wallpaper more than this date and when is a good time to order an Uber and leave?” Or… “This date is actually not that bad, they have great taste in choosing an interesting restaurant spot, with an inner dialogue saying, “that wallpaper gave me a fanny flutters,” another martini waiter!” Nudge Nudge Wink Wink!
What should you consider when selecting wallpaper?
The same as you would when selecting art. The ultimate question is do I love it and can I live with it for at least three years. As mine is on the high-end spectrum of wallpaper, they may see it every day for life! Or be ok moving and leaving it behind. The great thing about wallpaper is you can install in in your new abode. Unlike a hand painted mural – it’s hard to re-create the same design again.
People may shy away from beautiful and bold wallpaper designs like yours, afraid that they might overwhelm the room. What are your tips for making such wallpaper designs harmonize with the rest of the room decor?
Let it be a feature, let it be art. Less is more. You can then accent the rest of the room with highlights. Whether it’s cushions or potted plants, don’t shy away from being playful in your space.
What makes your wallpaper so unique?
I am a visual storyteller. The illustrations depict modern day fairytales, but with my own twist. It’s more than wallpaper, it’s a retelling of fables and moralistic stories, it’s a moral to live by. My wallpaper is about symbolism and hidden meaning, I want the owner to feel a connection or to discover of themselves through the work.
I also can’t help being a magpie and love shiny things. My wallpaper is mostly printed onto metallics which bring a majestical element to the presentation of the artwork. It’s slightly godly! I also offer custom services for residential, hospitality and corporate industries. Her work with the Farmer’s Daughter entailed a remodel of both the women’s and men’s restrooms at the hotel’s eatery, Tart. The wallpaper artwork was a tongue-and-cheek nod to the history of the hotel. Prior to the Picataggios’ ownership of the Farmer’s Daughter Hotel, it was a rent by the hour motel; the artwork playfully reflects that sexual undercurrent. I could go into more detail, however it’s not for fainthearted. If you want to hear the sordid details, including the “Tart Peepshow,” and so much more go to Red And The Wolf Within on my site, Welcome to the Brightside, where you can listen to a behind the scenes narrative. Recently I worked with City of Hope, Orange County on four skylight artwork their MRI and Vault room. And of course, I am over-the-moon to work on the Andaz Hotel.
Are there any artists that have influenced your works?
I would say I have a melting pot of influences that thread throughout the work. To name a few, YBA movement, Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy, Picasso, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, Disney, and Pixar.
Where can we find more information on your wallpaper, wall murals and artwork, buy it, or see it in person?
welcometothebrightside.com is the over-arching destination to find the artwork. This is the parent company to all the magic. The luxe wallpaper line, The Digs Collection, has just been made available to the public and is available for order at www.thedigscollection.com. And to follow my adventures in creative life, my instagram is @welcometothebrightside!