Kat Walmsley, a.k.a. @happyhumanclub_ is a collage and mixed media artist who enjoys, ‘cheese, pop, and GIFs’. Her work gleefully references the retro sides of the internet; combining quotes written using Microsoft Word art; iconic internet memes and hand-drawn elements to create a uniquely playful and often ironic style.
However, within this bright, internet-inspired world Kat frequently explores ‘serious’ topics such as parenthood, life as a working creative, and the importance of self-care and supporting other women. The captions to her posts on Instagram, @happyhumanclub_, which she uses to chronicle her life as well as to showcase her work, are imbued with the joys and frustrations of parenthood, the importance of smear tests as well as the sassiness of Little Mix.
The Fem League spoke to Kat about her love for GIFs and the inspiration behind her ‘poptastic’ work.
How would you describe your art in three words?
Colourful, fun and clumsy.
What inspires you to make art?
Starting maternity leave for the second time, I decided to try and do something creative each day; something for me. Suddenly my GIF diary was born. A piece of bright, funny, humorous artwork which looks for the silver lining in the mundane everyday. Created in 45 mins (the length of time my baby slept) this was a great way to keep my perfectionist gene at bay. Rough ready creative content.
I know I carry many insecurities about image, body, being and am only learning now that I am enough.
What was the inspiration behind ‘Care’?
Living in today's modern relentless world, we very rarely leave time for ourselves: to reflect, recoup and re-energise. I often feel like I am spinning a ton of plates with not a lot of fuel in the tank. These artworks look at the deeper world around us, the elements, beyond the skies, under the earth's surface and share messages which suggest looking out for one another as well as ourselves. Diversity is beautiful, we’re all unique and that should be celebrated. This particular piece has a very strong female perspective. I know I carry many insecurities about image, body, being and am only learning now that I am enough.
THE HAPPY HUMAN CLUB is a conceptual collective. Its premise is simple, being human is our common connector. I believe we’re all striving for a moment of happiness, however big or small. Happiness isn’t the holy grail, it’s finding joy in the smallest most humble places. It doesn’t have to be euphoric or last forever, I don’t think it can in fact. As humans, we feel every emotion on a loop throughout our lives. Happiness can be as simple as enjoying a slice of pizza or sharing a smile. My happiness in the small things is exuded in my gifs. I hope to produce a clothing line that embodies looking for the simple wins, joys and highs in life, I want to create apparel inspired by my artwork that makes you feel a tiny high and gives you that extra spring in your step.
What is your process of creating art?
I’m inspired by everyday happenings, adding elements of fun, fantasy, and whimsy. Capturing that thought then making them into a reality, if only for a brief moment through my gifs.
Happiness isn’t the holy grail, it’s finding joy in the smallest most humble places.
What is your favourite ever gif?
My favourite gif: all of them. They sit together as a collective organised in rainbow order (sad I know). Always look for the rainbow kids even when it pours.
Is it important for you to keep ‘happyhumanclub_’ as a personal creative outlet?
Yep, it is so important to squeeze in 15 minutes of self-love and creative outlay a day. The creative industry is hard and you are often governed by deadlines or budget. Having your own space without any rules or boundaries is very liberating
It's so important to engage with what feels currently like a troubled, raw world and find your voice.
Your work is often ironic and whimsical yet the captions often reveal a raw and unfiltered perspective on your personal life - is this intentional?
It is totally intentional to juxtapose whimsy and fantasy with sincere heartfelt feelings. It reflects the need for balance in life. It's so important to engage with what feels currently like a troubled, raw world and find your voice. This can be hard and heavy going, and so it’s also important to be open, accepting, find humour, whimsy, and fun where you can, this helps us through troubled water and stokes our fire in the dark.
I used to believe that I would have everything ‘sorted’ by the time I hit thirty. Now I’ve learned that there’s always time
What ‘season’ of your life would you say you’re in currently?
Spring! I have so much more to see do experience and achieve.
How have your past ‘seasons’ informed your current ‘season’?
I’m going to keep this pretty abstract. I used to believe that I would have everything ‘sorted’ by the time I hit thirty. Now I’ve learned that there’s always time: time to change, time to aspire, time to reach your goals, time to change direction and, time to grow. Never be afraid of change. Jump into that abyss because quite often there’s a feather bed waiting.
Having your own space without any rules or boundaries is very liberating
What will you take from this ‘season’ into the next?
Positive attracts positive. Always remember that!
Kat Walmsley is a collage artist and content creator.
Words | Naomi Southwell & Kat Walmsley
Images | All images courtesy of Kat Walmsley