Instagram: @grrrrace1 Website: www.gracehelmer.co.uk
1. What's your story? Where are you from?I grew up in Brighton, on the south coast of England. I moved to London for university and haven’t left (yet).
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.I paint colourful and realistic-ish scenes. I like to paint the everyday, but a bit wonky.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?Oil paints because they give such vivid colours. A lot of other paints are really tricky to me, they dry a different shade to how you paint them, and dry too quickly to smudge and mix on the page.
4. What is your artistic process like?At the moment I’ve been working on mainly editorial illustrations for books and magazines etc, so my process involves a lot of planning, thumbnails and talking with the art director on the project before getting to paint. Usually, I research the subject/s, sketch out lots of different ideas then work a couple up into roughs. Then once the final composition is chosen I draw it out fully and paint it. When I have time I really want to try approaching image-making in some looser ways - building up ideas by making and trying out instead of overthinking it. My friend Stephanie Hartman runs a ‘Collage Club' where we make collages and have a few beers, which encourages me to go through my boxes of old paintings and cut them up and have a bit of fun. I’d like to introduce more of that into my process.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?Travelling, walking, looking around, talking to friends and overhearing conversations.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?I suppose coming from a creative background, and researching lots of different things for illustration assignments, means I pay attention to small details in things... I’m always trying to find connections and stories behind things to plunder for work. I have no idea how else I’d view the world though! Probably that is the same as everyone.
7. Where did you study?I studied BA Illustration at Camberwell College of Arts, in London.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years? Working in an agency?Hopefully still freelancing, still learning, still having fun with it.
9. What about in ten?see above.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?I would hope that it makes people feel something. When I look at the artwork I love, I just want to jump into it, press my face against it… one day maybe my work could make someone feel that way! One can dream.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?Well, it depends on what the day is like, how I feel, where I am, what the weather is. My day usually revolves around what I am having for lunch and dinner. But I suppose at the moment my go-to food is anything involving noodles or dumplings.
12. Favourite book?There’s so many. For now, I’ll say ‘The Solitaire Mystery’ by Jostein Gaarder as it’s calming, charming and thought-provoking. I’d love to illustrate a version one day.
13. Favourite genre of music?That is an impossible question… I love lots of different music! I’ll avoid it by saying whilst working I usually listen to BBC 6 Music in the morning, then podcasts in the afternoon.
14. What are your hobbies?Weaving, reading, cooking, walks, very wholesome. Also at the moment, I’m quite into lurking on subreddits where people ask for advice, I love reading about people’s lives and dilemmas and the solutions everyone replies with. That sounds a bit creepy.
15. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?No idea. Maybe something to do with food, or websites, or organising...