Kirsty Thomas runs creative studio Tom Pigeon from the East Neuk of Fife. We go through her journey from fashion design to teaching to the creation of Tom Pigeon and her latest project The Make Bank.
After a bit of a false start with Sports Science Kirsty went on to a degree in Design Studies which didn’t exactly prepare her with the skills needed for industry but did give her broad scope which has lead to a really broad and varied career.
After a stint with clothing company Joe Bloggs, she experienced what she describes as an ‘itch’. This becomes a theme throughout her career and has led to a sort of cyclical change every few years. I think it’s a really healthy part of human nature to stop ourselves from getting caught in a rut. The most dangerous thing you can do is not recognise the need for change. It is so important to take stock of everything once in a while and allow yourself some perspective on your situation and the direction you’re headed in.
Having the support of a partner when moving into a creative career is invaluable. That safety net really gives you the freedom to start and run a business or practice. Alongside these cycles of change, Kirsty and Pete have created this supportive balance of each other’s careers which isn’t easy to achieve.
Since it’s creation in 2014 Tom Pigeon has become internationally known for colourful minimal geometric work across prints, stationery, jewellery and physical products. They have worked on many collaborations with museums, galleries and companies such as The Barbican, The Tate and made.com. We go into how that collaborative process, how it works and when it doesn’t, when it’s time to walk away. Walking away from projects isn’t something that has come up a lot in the podcast but it’s a difficult area especially when taking into consideration the financial implications. It comes down to your professional integrity and your vision for the future vs your financial situation and potential gain from a project. These really aren’t easy decisions to make.
Kirsty’s most recent itch was one of social responsibility. She recognised that Tom Pigeon is in the privileged position of selling to an affluent audience and in general the creative industries are an area of white privilege. We have a massive issue of creative poverty in this country. Where school pupils and students are unable to gain access to basic materials in order to complete course work or create portfolios. This creates an imbalance where those who can afford the basics have fewer opportunities to access the creative industries than those who do. Regardless of talent or determination, it comes down to the ability to afford things like pencils and paper.
The Make Bank has been created in order to help address this issue by creating packs that can be donated to those children who need it most. You simply head to the website themakebank.org.uk purchase a pack and they’ll distribute it for you. They also have an amazing range of prints for sale, donated by world-renowned creatives with all profits going towards addressing this UK wide issue. So if you are in a position to do so, I would urge you to please donate a pack or buy a print to help support this amazing cause.
As well as providing the materials needed, The Make Bank is also trying to address the knowledge gap. To demystify how to create a career in the creative industries and to help parents and teachers understand that there are viable career options in these areas. Make Bank is doing this by capturing the stories, journeys and thoughts of creatives in the industry in the form of audio recordings, blog posts and video. This falls in line with what I am trying to achieve with this very podcast. Creative Chit Chat is very much Dundee focused and I hope that the podcast has managed to share insight and encourage people to get into the creative industries. It’s all down to how many people we can reach. If everyone was to share it with 1 person it would boost the audience massively so please do.
The Make Bank – https://www.themakebank.org.uk/
Tom Pigeon – https://www.tompigeon.com/
How to Fail Podcast – https://howtofail.podbean.com/