Portrait of Willa Gebbie
Willa's illustrations of the fashion and beauty industry have already made their mark.
Willa is an up-and-coming illustrator who within two years of working in the creative industry has managed to independently build a strong client base and a very personal style. She is drawn by soft textures and fluid colours and envelops the female figure in an air of romanticism.
How did you decide to leave science and become an illustrator?
I wanted to have a career that I was truly passionate about, and I didn’t feel that science was “the one”. When I thought about it, I always came back to art. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by encouraging and supportive people. Without them, maybe I would have always been too scared to make the jump.
Can you outline your creative background?
Most people drew when they were little but, I guess I was lucky enough to be talented at it. My parents weren’t particular artistic, but I had a huge amount of support at school. I was accepted to Edinburgh School of Art, but ended up going to study Chemistry because I didn’t really understand how it was possible to have a career as an artist. I think I regret not going to art school now. I would love to go back one day, maybe to do a masters. Purely for the luxury of being able to submerse myself in nothing but art and experimentation
Where do you find your inspiration? What captures your attention in everyday life, graphics or art?
It’s hard to say where I get inspiration from, because it comes from everywhere. But my favourite things tend to be based around the human body. That be contemporary portraiture, fashion photography, dance or performance art.
What was the first ad or artwork that inspired you?
That’s a hard question! Probably Disney. Probably The Lion King.
How do you describe your style?
Feminine, soft, textured and figurative.
What tools do you use? Digital? Hand?
I work traditionally in pencil, ink and watercolour, but always take things into the computer to finish them. Photoshop gives me a huge amount of control over my work, and also makes meeting deadlines much easier.
What does your studio look like?
I’ve just moved into a new studio in Islington, sharing with three other illustrators. It’s pretty casual, with artwork and drawings on the walls and an old school gym floor. I’m looking forward to adding my own personal touch to it.
Whose portrait would you most like to do?
What artist would you like to collaborate with (from the past or present)?
Most of my favourite artists would be difficult to collaborate with. The best collaborations come out of cross discipline pairings, so probably a fashion designer, or animator, or photographer. I would really love to see my artwork on dresses, so maybe someone like Erdem. He has the most feminine dresses, with great use of print.
What project are you most proud of?
My illustration of the Queen for the Jubilee edition of the Express. My brother even put it on his fridge next to his kid’s drawings!
Which blogs and magazines do you read?
I follow hundreds of blogs on my Google reader. I never have time to read them all. But my favourites are: fashionising.com, LOVE magazine, Lula magazine, Creative Review, Unurth Street Art, Susie Bubble and Solo by Lizzie Stewart
What is the last exhibition you went to?
Anima Inside Out at the Natural History Museum.
If you could own any artwork in the world, which one would it be?
If price and situation was no issue, I would love to own some of James Turrell’s artwork. In fact, no I would get him to design my whole house. It would be incredible!
What do you think about the role of illustration in the artworld?
I think that illustration and graphic art is becoming more and more intertwined with contemporary art. It’d difficult to see the boundaries.
How do you define good graphic art?
It’s a grey area. What makes good design is different from what makes good art. Good design should meet the client’s needs, be clean, attractive and informative. Good art should evoke a response from the viewer, good or bad. A graphic artist can choose to be one or the other.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a series of illustrations based on the women in Grimm’s tales. Ideally I’d like it to form an exhibition next year.
Any plans for the future?
Next year I’ll be concentrating on exhibiting my work, and collaborating with other illustrators.