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Katie Abey: Mum, Illustrator, Entrepreneur

Katie is a yellow-haired, creative illustrator human, who transmutes her deep feelings into artwork in the hopes of making a positive difference in the world.

Throughout May and June, join Katie’s free Magic Seeker event at Punnydukes. Grab a treasure map and find faeries, witches and other magical beings throughout the shop. Tick them off to claim your treasure pin badge!


Tell us a bit about yourself  

I’m originally from Langley Mill and moved to South Wingfield ten years ago. I’m an illustrator and general creative human and mum to a craft goblin. I guess that pretty much sums it up!


How would you describe your work?

It’s difficult because I used to say, ‘Oh, I’m an illustrator,’ but it just feels like it’s so much more than that. Drawing is what I love doing but I also get a rush from all the organising, reordering stock for the online shop, and being creative brain for Punnydukes – our shop in Matlock.


Tell us about your business

I’ve been in business for 10 years this year which feels crazy! When I left university, my now husband, Jeff, was working in aerospace and supported me whilst I built the business up. Everything happened quite rapidly and they ended up sacking their engineering job in and we run it together now. Five years ago, Punnydukes was born and the Room of Enchantment event space is going to be two years old this summer. My business partner, Angela, and I do drop-in craft or portrait days and a lot of self-development, spirituality and meditation stuff aimed at adults.


You create new artwork at an incredible rate – where do you get your inspiration?

I made a new year’s resolution to do a drawing every day when I started my business ten years ago and I did it every single day for five years. That stopped when I got pregnant and was growing a child and then raising said child. And then recently, with Violet starting school, I’ve felt like I’ve had the capacity to do it again. And I really do love it because it stops me from overthinking because I’m creating every day. It tends to come from personal experiences. If I go through something in my life, I’ll try and make it into loads of cute artwork. Or if someone annoys me, I’ll make it into a passive aggressive post!


Does Violet share your creativity?

She loves trying everything and is super creative. She’s a mix of really proud of my work but also sarcastically unimpressed when I show her stuff! She creates artwork at an insane rate especially at after school club. She loves using my iPad to colour in illustrations I copy for her. I love her style – I want to get one of her drawings tattooed on me!

How do you juggle motherhood with running a successful business and with time to be creative?

I just try and be in one mode or the other. Which is not always easy. I think it’s easier since Violet’s got a bit older and I can say ‘that day is a work day’ but the creative bit is difficult because you can’t force creativity if you don’t feel it. Especially if you’re exhausted from hard-core mumming! It’s hard to feel like you’re bossing both but I do try and keep them separate so my brain doesn’t explode.


What do you do for self-care?

I like that question because it’s a fairly new thing. And because of me being a bit of a recovering workaholic, the way that I do this is I view my self-care as a project – I check how well I’m doing at relaxing! I’ll extend the walk back from school every day by 20-30 minutes because I really love wandering in nature. I try and get up before Violet to have 15 minutes journaling or something but that doesn’t happen every day. And then I really do like my baths but I often find myself scrolling when I could be reading or tuning out so, as I’m assessing this project management of my relaxation, there’s room for improvement! And trying to have self-care time means that I then have to be OK with the fact that there’s loads of stuff that needs doing.


Mental health and celebrating diversity are strong themes throughout your work. What makes you so passionate about these topics?

I’ve struggled with my own mental health a lot. I’m a really highly sensitive person which means I feel all the happy feelings really intensely but also all of the low feelings the same. Before I realised that about myself, there’s been a lot of times where I’ve been consumed by the bog quite a lot. Because I know what it’s like, it feels good to think that I might be able to help other people with that. It fills me with a sense of purpose. With diversity, I’ve recently realised that embracing your weirdness is how I would sum up what my message is. The things that people find weird about you are where your superpowers lie. It’s important to voice things that matter and a lot of that is diversity.

What tips would you give someone who wants to pursue illustration as a hobby or career?

Just create from your heart and create every day. That’s how I developed my style in the beginning – you can see online how it evolved over the first year as I was getting more confident with drawing so frequently. If you want to do kids’ books then it’s really useful to get an illustration agent too.


And finally, tell us about some of the proudest moments in your career so far.

Getting to illustrate a book for Ant and Dec was really cool! And love the books where I’ve had a bit more involvement in the writing. My favourite is We Feel Happy and I was really proud when I went to look around Violet’s school and they had it in the library! My name was also the answer to a question on The Chase recently which is a good conversation starter! I do feel really proud of myself and I always try and check in with my inner child, Little Katie, and I know that she’d be absolutely buzzing that this is my life.  


Shop Katie's rainbow goodness online at

Join the Business Witch coven for small businesses at

Visit Punnydukes and escape with an enchanted shopping experience. Punnydukes, The Courtyard, Dale Road, Matlock, DE43LT

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