Instagram: @theresgill Etsy: www.etsy.com/shop/GillDIllustration Website: www.gill-d.com
1. What's your story? Where are you from?I'm an illustrator from the suburbs of Southern California who now lives in Oakland, CA with my dog and cats and guy. I moved up here to go to school (I studied art at UC Berkeley) and never left-- I love the community vibes and all the natural beauty of the bay area! Though illustration is my passion, I pay the bills via my day job as a product designer at Pandora (the music place, not the jewelry place). Product design is something I never imagined doing but I really love it-- it allows me to flex the analytical side of my brain and to solve problems in a very different way than when I'm illustrating. Though it would be cool to illustrate full-time one day, right now I really do love having a day job to pay the bills. It makes it so I can be super selective when choosing illustration projects-- I never have to say "yes" to anything I don't want to do just to keep the lights on.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.My aesthetic is bright, rough, and full of life! Sometimes I think my style varies a lot but then when I pause and stand back it's clear that there are unifying features that make my style uniquely mine, which is something that I never thought would happen when I was younger. I've always looked up to illustrators who are able to take any subject and make it their own so effortlessly, so it's super exciting after working for years and years to start to see those links emerge in my own work. The strongest unifying features of my work are the rough lines, the interesting colors, and the organic textures.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?Over the past few years, I've switched to mainly creating work digitally on my iPad and I absolutely love it!! The opportunities that a digital canvas opens up really are endless-- I went from just having a few brushes and a couple sets of paints at home to having virtually any sort of brush, nib, or artistic tool possible and any color of paint imaginable available anywhere whenever I need it when I moved to the iPad. Obviously, it's also a real game changer being able to "undo" whenever I want! Nothing will replace the feel of a real brush so I'll always continue my analog process but for now, the iPad with the Procreate app and an Apple pencil is my go-to.
4. What is your artistic process like?My work relies a ton on that initial spark of inspiration-- when I get it, workflows out of me like magic, and when I don't I end up struggling for hours (or even days!). I've tried everything to force my work (and sometimes when I've got a deadline I've just got to do it) but have learned to just accept times when ideas just aren't coming and to take a break and try again later. Once inspiration does strike I'll usually sketch a few ideas in my sketchbook then take a photo of my favorite and drop that into Procreate as the base layer for my piece. From there I'll play with colors and shapes on top of the initial sketch until I have a layout and vibe that I like. Then I'll refine the drawing, add textures, and poof! My process is usually quite quick when the idea is right-- I like my pieces to feel alive and rough and I achieve that best when I work quickly.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?My mom is for sure my biggest inspiration. She was an artist and an art teacher herself and actually is the whole reason I'm making work today! Here's the story: after college, I had a really tough time staying creative. I couldn't find a job, lived in a tiny basement apartment, and as I struggled to cope with my impending adulthood I was finding less and less time to focus on my art. Fast forward 5 years and I was essentially making no art at all. Also during this time, my mom was diagnosed with cancer and fairly quickly lost her battle with cancer. After she passed, I reflected a ton on her life and her impact on me and it hit me that, just like it was for her, my creativity is who I am and I owe it to myself to express that and make work as often as I'm able. From that moment on I've been making something almost every day!
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?This is sooo cheesy but art really is my whole world. Inspiration is everywhere! The world is such a beautiful place and even though we're slowly burning it to the ground humans have done a lot of great things with the resources it's given us. I love taking the whole world in constantly and seeing what comes out through my hands. Even when I'm not making I love experiencing the art all around me: noticing the intricate carvings at the top of an entryway, admiring the shells in a delicate pinch pot on a friend's windowsill, feeling the imperfections of a woven chair on a porch at dusk-- everything can be awe-inspiring and fuel for your own creativity if you let it.
7. Where did you study?I studied Art Practice at UC Berkeley. It was a tiny program on a campus that was mostly focused on science and engineering which turned out to be so cool and inspiring! We were required to take a lot of non-art classes every semester and to see how those classes could influence our work, which was so fun and really brought us out of our comfort zones. Though I sometimes wish I had gotten more technical artistic training, I think the skills I gained in that environment were equally if not more valuable.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?In five years I hope I'm making more work consistently than I do now and I hope I'm on my way to making my work support me financially. I like being able to work and experiment right now while having my day job support me but I hope in the future I can confidently charge more for my talents and promote myself so my creative work can start supporting me more. I also hope I've illustrated a children's book by then!
9. What about in ten?In ten years I hope I'll be in a position to be a positive influence on young illustrators. The thing I love most about the ever so accomplished illustrators that I look up to (see: Carson Ellis and Lisa Congdon) is how supportive they are and how they share their struggles and accomplishments so all of us working in their wake can follow along and learn and grow with them. I hope that in the future I can help the next generation of artists follow their dreams and not give up on themselves when the big cold world gets them down (or when they graduate college and can't find a job and think they have to stop making art to focus on "adult responsibilities").
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?I hope my art inspires others to live fully and to act on their intuitions. I hope that if someone is having a bad day they can see one of my illustrations and feel not so bad and remember that life can be good if they go out and shake it up a little bit.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?I feel bad because I know that the oceans are in peril and that we need to stop overfishing our seas but I absolutely love sushi!! Give me anything in a handroll or served over a bed of sushi rice and I'm in heaven. There's a vegetarian sushi place in Berkeley called Cha-Ya that is my all-time favorite (bonus: there's no fish so it's guilt-free!)
12. Favourite book?I recently read Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders and loved it so much! It's a part-historical-part-fictional telling of when Abraham Lincoln lost one of his sons. Sounds weird I know but it's so great. Also, lock me up with anything by Murakami and I'll be set for days! My favorite by him is The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle but Kafka on the Shore is a close second, cat violence aside.
13. Favourite genre of music?I mainly listen to a mix of indie, punk and electronic dance music, but if podcasts count as a genre that might be at the top of my list right now. I'm absolutely obsessed with true crime podcasts-- I don't know how I ever got any work done before they were a thing! My favorite right now is Casefile but My Favorite Murder is, of course, an all-time favorite (SSDGM!).
14. What are your hobbies?I've always been really big into sewing and lately have been getting more into the slow fashion movement. I love planning out things to sew and knit-- even though it's super time consuming and often frustrating it's always so rewarding to wear something you made! Next year I'm going to challenge myself to not buy any new clothes at all, so I'm ramping up my sewing and mending skills in preparation for that.
15. If you weren't an artist, what would you be?I still daydream about wanting to be a scientist, even though I know I wouldn't have the patience to actually be one. Forensic Entomology sounds super cool-- it's the study of insect life cycles on cadavers to help with criminal investigations by figuring out things like what the time of death was. Maybe one day I'll go for it but for now, drawing insects satisfies all my buggy sciency needs!