April 28, 2011

Spontaneous Simplicity Made Super!

An Interview with Gemma Correll

Part 2 of 2 (link to Part 1)
Click on any picture to enlargeticize

Gemma, so much of your work makes it abundantly clear that you have a deep affection for animals, be it for your lovely pug, cats of all shapes and sizes as well as the occasional bear. What has sparked this apparently happy union of your work with this understandable affection for our furry cousins?
I’m not sure – I think I’ve just always been a friend to animals.

I had a cat growing up (named Olli) who I absolutely adored. I was quite obsessed with cats in general, actually, although I had a dog, too (not a Pug) and I drew them all the time. I used to draw cat comics and such-like a lot. So I suppose nothing has changed.

Over the aeons, your work has appeared on any number of items including cups and plates, plush dolls, pillows, prints on textiles and paper, walls (graffiti? For shame! ^_^ ), murals and other exhibitions. With all these in mind, where (or how) is the one way you think your work is best presented? Are these your preferred outlets or do you have a secret wish to see your work presented in a different way?
I don’t really have a preference, I just like having
my work on stuff.

I’m not too bothered about what the “stuff” is. Of course, I’m always thinking of new ways to present my work. But it’s more a case of ‘does a client have a particular product that they want me to decorate’? All I have to do in most cases is produce the artwork.

However, murals and exhibitions are different and more personal. I’m not always keen on how my work looks ‘properly’ framed (or maybe that’s because I don’t know how to frame stuff properly). So I tend to either have unframed illustrations (dangerous, especially when there’s a private view involving free alcohol) or in random vintage frames.

I also tend to draw at a small scale, so I’m still not sure about my work in mural ‘form’. I enjoy drawing them but I don’t know if I like my illustrations at such a large scale! I feel like they lose some of the fun.

What kinds of other things do you make?
I make screen-printed tote bags, greetings cards, badges, pocket mirrors and ‘zines. When I say make... I mean, design. I don’t actually physically make any of my products anymore.

Plus, I was recently commissioned by the site
To Dry For to design a commemorative Corgi Royal Wedding tea towel for the upcoming Royal Wedding!

I used to do the screen-printing and the badge-making, etc. but it got to be way too time-consuming. I do usually still photocopy, fold and staple my ‘zines, though. I think that’s part of the whole ‘zine making-process.

I find that my eyes are particularly drawn to your use of patterns, including both the use of fine-texturing and your larger prints of same, as well as what could be considered an understated or best said limited use of colour. What attracts you to both of these ‘tendencies’ do you think?
I love vintage children’s book illustrations, which I think explains both my tendency to use texture and limited colour. I like to use pattern and texture just to add ‘interest’ to my work.

Also, I like to keep things as simple as possible. Overworking an image has always been a problem for me - the more I work on an image, it starts to lose the sense of spontaneity that I think defines my work. Limiting the colours helps avoid that, too.

How important is getting the typography ‘right’ for your work? You seem to have an amazing knack for this as well! Did you ever study typography specifically or has it been a ‘learning on the job’ aspect of your work?
I have never studied typography, it’s just something that comes naturally to me. I usually draw my lettering freehand. Since words are often an important part of my work, I need for them to integrate into the image. I hate it when the text and the imagery in an illustration clash, or don’t work together.

But since I’m not really much of a “planner” I usually just go for broke and draw and write and hope that it all works together. It usually does...

You are also employing agents to help support your work, including both
NB Illustration** and Anna Goodson Management. I only ask because at least in my experience not a lot of ‘free-lance’ illustrators have agents. How does that work for you? Are you still able to maintain the ‘free’ aspect or how do you balance that exactly? Sorry for being so lost about that, but I’m serious, no one else brings this up much!
**I found their descriptive of your work interesting (‘naive’ and ‘stylised’)!
I work exclusively with Anna Goodson for US and Canadian clients. I find some of my own clients in the UK and Europe and also sometimes work through NB.

I love my agents because they find me work and clients that I otherwise wouldn’t. And like the administration tasks I mentioned before, they handle the financial side of things, which I really dislike. Case in point, I just spent an entire Saturday doing my accounts. The less of that I have to do, the better!

You also recently completed your largest work yet for the
Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff in celebration of their 40th 'birthday'. How did working on that project compare to a nice comfy day spent in the warmth (?) of your own place with pug in tow while doing your own work? I’m also curious: when that show is over, what happens to the mural?
The mural has actually been painted over now. It was just up for six weeks, which I knew when I created it.

I quite enjoy drawing murals just because it is so different from sitting indoors at my desk. Doing the Chapter mural gave me a chance to travel to Cardiff (I’d never been to Wales) and work in front of an audience which was a little daunting! I’m used to my only audience being Mr. Pickles, who’s generally more interested in licking his bum.

But anything that takes me out of the studio for a couple of days is a welcome break, usually and if I get the chance to travel, too, that’s great. I am a fan of travelling. So, anyone who happens to be reading this, why yes – I WOULD like to come and spend a week in Mexico or Florida or Spain to paint a mural at your gallery/arts centre/school. Let me just grab my suitcase...

You obviously had a very business 2010 and your calendar for 2011 seems to be filing up rapidly! What are then your main projects or even priorities coming up in the next months?
Well, I’ve literally just moved to Germany (Berlin) a few weeks ago. I’m not sure yet if the move is forever, or just for a while...

But for the first 2 months I’ll be here, I’m pretty much concentrating on a big project! In fact, it’s the biggest project I’ve ever done, which is a bit daunting! It’s a book based on my “What I Wore Today” series and it’s going to be a journal that readers can fill in. I’m looking forward to just focusing on one thing for a while, rather than 20,000. Plus, later in May, I’ll be appearing at the
Apple Store in Munich, so come on out, it’ll be fun!

Still, even while trying to take it a bit easier, I might be a little distracted by the proliferation of coffee shops that Berlin has to offer!


In order not to cause any conflict – or let’s say more conflict than usual – let’s see what Gemma’s agents have to say about her, which we present in this only very slightly abridged and otherwise unmodified form:

Gemma Correll is a freelance illustrator currently based in the UK (well, no, she’s now physically in Berlin ... or is she?). A graduate of the
Norwich School of Art and Design (BA honours Illustration, First Class, 2006), Gemma's work has a strong narrative basis. She specialises in hand-drawn comics, characters, typography and pattern. She has exhibited all over the world, including in China, the US and Europe (which we are led to believe are all parts of the world, though we’re not sure about this whole ‘China’ rumour as we’ve never been there). She was the recipient of a Young Guns award from the Art Directors Club of New York in 2010.

The ‘usage’ of her work (huh?) is seen as being ideal for both magazines and editorials owing to her ‘naive’ and ‘stylised’ style that features such a wide variety of subjects as ‘objects, icons’ and ‘people’ (again, huh?). Furthermore, Gemma is known for her "quirky characters in strange situations". Her work has been featured in magazines, books and in advertising, as well as on products ranging from tee-shirts to umbrellas.

And despite her etsy shop currently being closed (this bit is ours by the way), you only have to type in Gemma Correll in Google to find any number of fantastic ways to enjoy her art for your very own!! You’ll be very glad you did! Oh and if you DO get her stuff tattooed on you, send her a line!

Please check out all her links and more today!

Flickr Gallery

Blog ‘A Chronicle of a (Mostly) Boring Life’

Blog (collaboration with other artists) –


All pictures, videos and other media are used with written permission of Gemma Correll, including all current or previous business affiliations related to same, or are available in the public domain (noting copyright and other restrictions, accordingly). No further reproduction or duplication is permitted without contacting the artist directly.

Some pictures have been modified slightly or combined only for the purpose of space limitations. In all cases, we invite you to visit the artist’s site(s) for more!

1 comment:

Lesley Vamos said...

Your work is fantastic Gemma!! Love the combination of punchy graphic sensibilities, humor and delicate line work! Looking forward to following your work from here on in ^_^