Tuesday, 13 September 2011

The ZIG Interview: Illustrator Gemma Correll


Welcome to the very first ZIG Blog artist interview! We're making a strong start with an exclusive interview with the massively talented Gemma Correll!!

  We like Gemma's work, a lot. Who could fail to be tickled by her super-cute, witty illustrations? What's more, she creates them with Kuretake pens! AND she has a pug! (always a bonus in my book)

Hi Gemma, tell us a little about yourself….

Well, let’s see... I live in the self-proclaimed “fine city” of Norwich. I am quite short and I have very bad eyesight, which resulted in my having to wear some pretty awful glasses as a child. Plus I had a bowl haircut. Actually, those glasses are probably for sale in American Apparel now....

How would you describe your illustration style?
It’s pretty simple and fairly graphic with a naive edge. I once read on somebody’s blog that my characters are “the perfect mix of ugly and cute” which is probably about right. I suppose you could call it funny, although perhaps more funny peculiar than funny ha-ha.

© Gemma Correll

A tweeted question from @BEC_lou_MAC...
What inspired your drawing style?
I think it just naturally developed over time with a huge range of influences over the years, from the cartoonists Giles and Posey Simmonds when I was a kid, to pop art, The Far Side and japanese characters when I was a teenager. Then at art college, I discovered illustrators like Tom Gauld and Sara Fanelli. It’s hard to pinpoint any one specific inspiration.

A tweeted question from @Claireyes19...
Where is the most inspiring place for you to draw?
I like drawing in coffee shops, but I have to have a seat where nobody can see what I’m drawing... and it has to be good coffee.

Who are your favourite artists?
There are so many that it would be nearly impossible to list them all, but some of them are: Marc Johns, Lizzy Stewart, Liza Donnelly, Tom Gauld, Kate Beaton, Sophia Martineck, Nora Krug, Ana Albero, Camilla Engman and Sandra Juto.

Favourite Kuretake ZIG pen, and why?
I think I’d have to choose the Brush Writer II pen - I love using it to colour my inked drawings. It’s like using watercolour but so much easier.... watercolour for idiots like me.

© Gemma Correll

How do you use Kuretake pens in your work?
I work in quite a straightforward way.  I draw in my sketchbook a lot, for which I use Millennium pens. Then I’ll use a Millennium pen for my linework and a Brush Writer II or Clean colour pen for colouring.

© Gemma Correll

Did anything about Kuretake ZIG pens surprise you?
Well, I am very fussy about pens, so I was just pleased to find so many good ones!

What’s your studio/working area like?
I share a studio with my fiance, Anthony, who is also an illustrator. It’s a room in our apartment, and it’s where we spend most of our time, so it can get a little messy, to say the least, but it’s also a really fun place to work- we drink coffee and eat snacks (our favourite this week is vegetable crisps) and listen to music (although we don’t always agree on that). Plus, of course, Mr Pickles is there too to entertain us.

A tweeted question from @moodycat...  
Do you find it difficult working alone rather than in a studio and only having yourself for inspiration?
Well, I share my studio with Anthony (my fiancé) so I’m not entirely alone - and Mr Pickles is always there to keep me company too ... but I’m quite happy with my own company anyway, to be honest. I collect inspiration in my head when I go out into the real world, and when I listen to music, or watch TV.

Your designs can be found on loads of products around the world.  If you could see a design of yours on any product, what would it be?I'd really like to make one of those plastic collectable figurines.  Maybe a whole set of them. A plastic family of Pugs perhaps.

© Gemma Correll

Your project “What I wore today” has inspired many artists, what are your plans for these illustrations?
It’s going to be a book! I’ve just finished working on it and it’s gone off to be printed. It’s a kind of journal, with templates and prompts for the reader to draw and write about their daily/seasonal outfits. It also features a few of the images from the “What I Wore Today” Flickr group- and some pics of Mr Pickles too, of course. It will be released by Octopus Publishing in March 2012.

© Gemma Correll

We have something in common, as pug owners!  How is Mr Pickles and is he always a help in your creative process?
Mr Pickles is fine, he’d like to meet Gertie I think! He is usually a help, although sometimes he’ll want to play when I’m trying to get work done. It’s hard to resist that face though!

© Gemma Correll

What advice would you give to 16 year old you?
Don’t worry, it’s all going to be OK. In 10 years, wearing those glasses will actually be trendy and you will be an illustrator!

© Gemma Correll

You have an impressive Twitter following.  If you could have any one person following you (dead or alive), who would it be?
Bill Bryson. Not sure that he even has Twitter though.

What’s your top tip for other Illustrators using social networking to promote their work?
Don’t get too carried away with it. Use Twitter, Facebook, etc. to your advantage but don’t spend all day on there - you won’t get any work done.

I’ve heard that there are people with tattoos of your illustrations?  Must be quite strange!?
Yes, it’s strange but incredibly flattering that somebody would want my drawings tattooed on them forever!

© Gemma Correll

A tweeted question from @kellycriedwolf...
Do you ever have those days when your self esteem is on the floor? How do you motivate yourself?
I have those kinds of days fairly regularly. It’s important for me to recognise that I’m just having a bad day - I have to remember that it’s not the end of the world. On days like that, I try to avoid looking at other illustrator’s work (it makes me feel even worse) or spending too much time labouring over an illustration if it’s not really working. I go back to my sketchbook and just draw and write. I write a lot of lists!

Are you currently working on anything you can tell us about?
I’m usually working on several projects at any one time. At the moment, I’m working on a 2013 calendar, some illustrations for a book about craft and a few smaller projects.

Where can people see you work, have you got any exhibitions coming up?
I haven’t got anything planned for the near future, although I’ll be exhibiting at Land gallery in Portland, Oregon, next May. I do quite often take part in group shows though, which I post about on my blog.

A huge thank you to Gemma for talking to us, and also for the amazing blog background that she designed just for us!

Want to find out more about Gemma and her work? Better check out her awesome Website, Blog, Daily Diaries and SHOP!...

Are you one of the lucky twitter followers who's question for Gemma was picked?  Email or DM me and Gemma's favourite pen, the Kuretake Brush Writer II, will be on it's way to you!

Get in touch with me on Facebook!