Gigi Rose Gray
You grew up traveling extensively. Did traveling make you want to draw people and places? Do you think it's affected your style of illustration?
I think traveling has inspired who I am as a person, and consequentially my work. It's affected my perception of the world, which felt like my little oyster. Visiting lands abroad throughout my life, I remember places based on experiences and discoveries rather than cultural differences. In Brittany I have memories of a towering armoire teeming with jars of homemade jams, walking along the ramparts of the medieval city. In Normandy I remember the "moules frites" and fisherman hauling in their catch, witnessing a thief make his escape in Barcelona and galloping on horseback through the wild fields of Provence. My work has been strongly influenced by my childhood, as I remember it to be a time of wonderment and exploration which was no doubt largely thanks to my travels.
What inspired this series of children playing in nature?
An image very spontaneously came to me of larger than life children exploring a populated valley. From there it just grew. I'm forever fascinated with children and how they experience life with pure minds and new eyes. The dichotomy of their innocent playfulness and yet profound perceptions is startling.
"The Meaning of Fort Building" Babiekins Magazine #8
The children in this series are dressed and groomed in an old-fashioned style. Would you say you're drawn to a certain era?
Absolutely, I am. My style really came together a couple years ago when I came across hundreds of old family photographs dating back to the 20's. Coming from all corners of Europe, they found another in a box under my parent's bed. I became intrigued by my relatives stories and used the photos as references for new narratives. Discovering so many new characters was exciting. I have since begun collecting many old photos found in flea markets or old pages of Life Magazine. There is so much possibility and mystery in old pictures.
Gigi's old family photographs
Who are some artists or illustrators you look up to?
I often look to fine artists for inspiration rather than illustrators. I don't ever want to be too influenced by someone else's work and with painters I can take aspects I like and apply them to my own approach of image making. Some of my favorites are: Marlene Dumas, Jockum Nordstrom, Alice Neel, Luc Tuyman, Matisse, Neo Rauch, Marcel Dzama, Michael Borremans, the list goes on…
These pieces are an interesting mix of paint (gouache) and graphite. Why this combination?
I find such satisfaction in putting a pencil to paper, it feels very visceral and true to my hand. Conveying humanity in drawings is vital to me. Contrary to this, I have very little control over paint. It has a life of it's own in my hands. The strictness of pencil plays well with the naive strokes of paint.
Who would be your dream illustration client? Any big goals or dreams for the future?
There is certainly so much to conquer in this world of illustration. The scope of possibilities is endlessly expanding. I recently made a couple patterns for a fashion company andwould love to explore this further. Penguin books would also be a dream client. They produce the most beautiful book jackets and really embrace illustrators. Maira Kalman is an inspiring person as she moves from artist to illustrator seamlessly, exhibiting as well as working commercially is very appealing to me.
The artist's "oasis" where she often draws.