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Tell us a bit about yourself: Did you go to school for art? Are you self taught?
I have been drawing my entire life, starting when I was old enough to hold a crayon. As a toddler, I was absorbed with color, especially combinations and patterns. Although my first unofficial wall mural was drawn on our freshly painted staircase wall before my 3rd birthday, my formal art training began at 10 years old when I was awarded a scholarship to the Junior School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I attended classes there for many years followed by University of Illinois (School of Fine & Applied Arts) and the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
My grandmother was also one of my "influencers" ...and a big part of my life. She was such a master with skilled pattern making, genius design and sewing skills, all the Chicagoland dressmakers would come to her for advice and help. Her clientele included the wealthiest of patrons from the NorthShore. My grandmother could look at a garment draped on a mannequin and with just a few notes and a primitive sketch, she'd create a pattern and improve the designs to come up with her own original creations and patterns. I absorbed a lot from her growing up but the rest of my creative skills as an artist and maker have been self taught.
Do you work in just one medium? Several?
I have always loved watercolor and ink and have paired medium and substrate in a unique combination to develop my signature look. I began in publishing (my first and forever love) but later fell head-over-heels in love with stamping and the craft/hobby industry. It is there that I landed and feel most at home. Although my original plan was to be a book illustrator, I wound up instead developing a passion for product illustration.
I begin my creative process using traditional methods but it is in Photoshop that I do my magic. I think like an animator and a stamper, so I create all my art components in pieces and assemble them digitally. Once I bring everything into the computer space, I can move elements around endlessly, create surface design patterns and multiple color ways at lightening speed and transform objects, such as turning flamingos into swans or leaves into abstract backgrounds. That is my "happy place" because digitally the possibilities are truly endless.
And...I can literally work on everything all at once in my starburst thinking working style. I usually work on multiple files ( and often multiple collections ) simultaneously. It's the only way I can manage all the ideas.
What inspires you / where do you get inspiration from?
LOL! I recommend reading the article in Scientific American on "cognitive disinhibition" (click here). It explains how the advanced creative mind works and how it absorbs what non-creatives refer to as "inspiration". Since I basically have no filters in what I take in visually, inspiration is literally everywhere. I can walk down a crowded Chicago street and see a color story in a building's patina or instantly envision an entire art collection by spotting children playing under an umbrella on a quiet suburban front yard. I'm always jotting ideas and observations down in my phone Notes app, although that is sometimes challenging with my two Border Collies on the other end of the leash!
I create art in a wide variety of themes and styles. This is partly due to client and product variances but also affected by many other influencers. For example, if I am working on a specific crafting technique involving specific materials and a very appealing outcome, I may be inspired to bring those textures or color combinations into a new art collection based something I experienced on a walk the day before that was relevant to a specific theme or request. My thought process is like a salad bowl...lots of ingredient combinations being tossed around at all times!
I am mostly known and recognized, however, for my animal art and my signature brand Sweet PETatoes. I've always loved animals and have been drawing and painting them my entire life. Birds and dogs have especially been a huge part of my life and I currently live with 3 border collies, a cockatiel and an Eclectus parrot. You can even follow their adventures in one of my blogs, listed below.
What are you working on now?
I have been prepping for weeks for both the Atlanta Gift Show AND for the annual Craft & Hobby Trade Show (CHA Show). In fact, depending on when people read this, I may actually be at CHA, being videoed, presenting new inky techniques and art collections and, of course, soaking in ALL the creative energy with my industry peeps! I'll also be previewing the new additions to my rubber stamp line with Impression Obsession (http://iostamps.com ) and setting up my awesome project in the industry Trends display case.
Any great advice for our readers?
The one piece of advice I'd like to share is about purpose. When we create fine art to satisfy our inner creative spirit and express our soul, no one can say what we create is right or wrong or need changes It is purely our artistic expression. The main focus is satisfying our own need to create. Art licensing, however, is a business and the art we create for art licensing needs to be created with that in mind. Of course, create your art to the best of your ability but...do not get too emotionally connected to it.
Creating art collections for licensing is a actually a collaboration. It's purpose is to make money and enhance product. As artists we need to work within the needs of that purpose. If a potential client requests changes, it isn't a negative commentary on your work or your ability. It's business. Our art sells a product. It has to be spot on for the specific market and consumer. Be cognizant of product formats, production needs and specs as well as focusing on current trends and color palettes. For example, I LOVE the color green and will use it instinctively, but just because I love green doesn't mean it is always appropriate. It is all about business and, as such, art for licensing should be created with an end use in mind. Conversely, stay true to your style or unique way of expression. Just remember to temper that vision by listening to what clients and potential vendors request.
Although it seems like a lot of extra work, I encourage taking the time to place art in progress into product templates or shapes. This exercise not only gives the the potential client a clear vision of how your art will enhance their product line, but will also help you develop your collections so proportions, color palettes and various elements work on a variety of products.
And don't take rejection personally. These are business decisions being made by business people. It isn't commentary on your artistic soul.
Any other special interests or skills?
I am also a skilled writer with 5 published books and hundreds of magazine articles. Writing comes very naturally to me…especially for information articles or step-by-step instructions. Little know fact about me: I spoke in complete sentences before I was a year old. This unusual ability was further reinforced by conversing daily with another child the same age who was also gifted with early speech.
Anything else you would like to share with us?
Working as a solo creative can be very isolating and at times, overwhelming. I'm very grateful to be part of a creative community. Between the craft/hobby industry and the art licensing communities, I never feel alone. There is always some one to answer a question, bounce ideas off of, etc. There is always someone who understands what this creative life is all about.
Are you an early riser? or night owl?
I'm an early riser…a little too early some days! I've been an early wakening insomniac my entire life. I drove my parents crazy wandering around the house as a child and lost college roommates because of my dawn rising habits.. However, I was perfectly suited for attending to my babies when they were sick or having nightmares!
Seriously, I don't have the problem consistently but I often do a lot of creative problem solving at 4 am! I am a true lark in that I am fully awake the second I wake in the morning and my brain goes instantly into high creative mode. I'm at my very best creatively from early morning through mid afternoon. I will usually save less creative work for later in the day when the right side of my brain takes a break and allows the other side to take over.
What is your favorite food?
Lettuce. Actually, pretty much all vegetables…and fruit. I was born a rabbit, surprising everyone who watched a 2 year old devouring veggies instead of wanting cookies. I'm still not into sweets although I do love rhubarb pie and super dark (86-92%) chocolate. I'm also a tea drinker and LOVE anything Chai. My family thinks it's funny that I will procrastinate going to the grocery as long as possible if I can still make a salad. Once I run out of lettuce, however, it turns into a high priority emergency run!
Gail Green Licensing & Design
For a glimpse inside the artist behind the Sweet PETatoes brand, visit my blogs:
For licensing queries and a preview of my art, please contact my licensing agent Julie Ager (Artistic Designs Group) at www.artsdg.com or www.artlicensingshow.com
Thanks Gail for all of your insights!
Do you want to be spotlighted? Send me an email: info@AnnGraphics.com
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