We had the pleasure of meeting Gill Chantler at The House of Illustration fair earlier this summer and fell in love with her work. It’s bright, bold and features a fantastic use of shape and line, drawing the eye in from every angle. There’s a simplicity to the way that Gill presents her narratives that mirrors folk art’s use of block colour and clearly expressed forms, though her modern work is a far cry from the fairytale illustrations of yore. We caught up with Gill to find out more about what influences her wonderful style and what she has in store for this year…
At what point did you get into illustration; where did it all begin?
Ever since I was small I was constantly drawing and creating things. There’s a fantastic family photo I have of me in an ’80s kitchen in head to toe overalls with a paintbrush in hand looking like I couldn’t be happier. I think it started from there. Years later I went on to study Illustration in my home town of Edinburgh at Edinburgh College of Art. The head of Illustration, Jonathan Gibbs is a passionate printmaker and wood engraver who was a great inspiration to me. He encouraged us to practice line drawing, develop a personal style and experiment with different techniques from silkscreen to collage.
What does your work explore?
It’s hard to summarise because in the illustration business it’s all about responding to a set brief. In saying that, I look to make work that is uplifting and positive for the viewer. In terms of exploration, my work its a real mix of elements that come from my imagination and real life observations that I try to pin to the page.
What are your greatest influences?
This changes all the time. I always return to Scandanavian Designers such Marrimekko, a textile company, for their refreshing patterns and bright blocks of colour. I’m also a great fan of the master, Matisse for his magnificent colourful paper cuts, which I hope to catch in the Tate Modern in their show this year.
How do you like to work? what are your processes?
My tutor at ECA Jonathan Gibbs said that you should always be excited by what you are making. If you’re not then it is impossible for others, the viewers to be. With this in mind I always try to challenge myself by making new work and to be excited by it. I like to draw in sketchbooks initially. These drawings are usually observations from the day, shapes, colours and characters. I then scan all this in and try to work out a strong composition.
What inspires you?
Fresh air. I love to get outside and take a break from the studio; connecting with other people, observing, cycling, listening to new music etc. This all goes into the melting pot back at my drawing desk. I like to get outside and open up my eyes and without this my sketchbooks get a little dry. I’ve also been affected by the travel bug over the last few years. That really helps to fill my sketchbooks up with new inspiration.
Do you have a favourite project that you’ve worked on to date?
I was recently asked to put in a proposal for the V&A. This was to create a number of posters for the Friday Night Late events they have on. I drew the V&A at night, covered in flamingoes and silhouettes of lions having a party. Unfortunately the work wasn’t picked but it was lovely to have been asked to contribute something and to create an original image.
What do you have planned for this year?
My plans are to keep challenging myself to make new work. Self motivation is very important when you’re in this trade. I’d like to work on filling up my portfolio with lots of new projects with new clients and would particularly like to work on a branding/identity project with a new business; designing the branding, packaging the whole caboodle. I’d love to do some more textile work too so watch this space or say hello on Twitter.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth