Hi Gabriele, tell us a little bit about yourself!
I graduated from Illustration at DJCAD in 2016. I love observing people and the way they act in different situations, therefore I like travelling, reading about different places and cultures, watching movies about them, etc. The world and its absurdity fascinate me.
I am an illustrator who pours pints for a living for now. I work in a bar to pay my rent and I am also a resident in DJCAD at the moment, where I do some personal work/small commissions in the studio whenever there is time and help out in printmaking department when they need me.
What’s your main source of inspiration when approaching a new project? Do you do a lot of research before a final design? Who is your favourite artist/designer, who inspires you, and why?
My ideas tend to come from literature, movies, or every day observation. It’s usually a silly story from a newspaper or an annoying customer, or something I misheard on a bus somewhere that inspire me the most, and then my mind can develop it further when I’m in the studio. I started writing in my notebook quite a lot recently and finding the notes after a while is great if I need inspiration. I also recently discovered podcasts – that’s what I listen to now when I’m in the studio working, it doesn’t distract you the way your favourite songs might and sometimes you might hear something that will help with a new project.
I try not to look up other artists when I’m starting a project. I find it distractive and not that helpful, as it always seems like others do it way better than me. The amount of research I do depends on the project – if it’s something about a very specific subject, I will read and sketch loads. If it’s a personal project about an every day situation, I will probably start with a final piece quite quickly.
I admire lots of artists and designers, so I couldn’t really choose one. I find myself looking into various studios, collectives and independent publishing houses’ websites loads lately. One of my favourites now would be Palefroi, a Berlin based screen printing studio, where a couple of artists make books and prints and seem to work in a perfect harmony – I would love to open up something like that myself someday.
How quickly after uni did you manage to find work?
I am still looking and I don’t know if I’ll ever stop. I got very lucky to get a free studio space and the access to the workshops here in DJCAD right after my graduation, but I do constantly feel like I am not doing enough art related work. It is very hard to manage both full time job in a bar and being creative – most of the time I feel too tired to think of any ideas or even find motivation to make something. Open calls for submissions to various zines/other collaborative projects help, they give you a start for something and you have a deadline. However, I am not getting paid for art just now, and all my income comes from the bar job.
How much creative freedom do you feel you get in your current job/internships/projects?
I am completely free to do what I want during the residency, which is a blessing and a curse. It is good to be able to do everything whenever you have time, but I find myself struggling to find motivation sometimes, especially if I had a tough week at work. I find it easier to work with deadlines and some sort of brief.
Do you actively seek work (how?), and what is most important – CV, portfolio, social media, blogs?
I am constantly looking for work/internships/submission opportunities now. In my personal experience, CV is really not that important, but it’s good to have it in addition with everything else. Your website is the most important thing – people want to see your work, they don’t want to read about it. I am not a fan of social media when it comes to promoting your work, but I know that some people get a lot out of it, if they dedicate loads of time for it and do that well.
What resources and infrastructure do you miss now that you are away from uni? Do you feel connected to the people or networks that were available in uni? How do you manage to make new contacts?
I am doing my residency in DJCAD, so I don’t miss it just now. But I know how hard it will be to find such great facilities and support afterwards. I think it is very important to appreciate the help you get from the tutors and technical staff and show it. That way you can try and keep the connections and it definitely helps you make new ones. One thing that I’ve learnt is that the art community is a small one where everyone knows each other and news travel fast. Be nice to others and others will be nice to you. Also, it is good to start getting in different collectives outside of uni before you graduate.
What one thing do you know now that you wish you had known when you were leaving uni?
That the stress you expose yourself to at the end of your degree and right before the degree show is quite unnecessary.
How do you overcome difficulties during projects such as lack of ideas, motivation etc?
Going out of the studio – going for a walk, having a day trip somewhere, seeing a movie or even a crap tv show, reading a book, tabloid or whatever I find on my way, sleeping more and not less, getting into a routine and taking care of myself.
How do you manage your time and adjust to going from having the uni schedule to not having a set schedule as such? Do you plan projects up front?
That is the most difficult thing for me just now – not having deadlines might be liberating at first, but I do write to do lists every day and they seem to get longer and longer. I wish I knew how to deal with it easier, but for now I just keep on pushing myself and kicking myself out of bed to go in to the studio. Sometimes I fail miserably, other times something good comes out of it.
How do you deal with clients and putting value in to your projects, cost per hour of your work, do you generally get a lot of negotiation in regards to hourly rate/selling rate?
I don’t really deal with clients, however pricing your work is something me and my friends struggle with quite a lot. I attended a very good talk about the AOI and I would recommend being a member of it if you’re already dealing with clients. When it comes to my personal experience, I think it’s very important to know who you’re selling to: if it’s a student craft fair – think about how much you would pay for certain things (it also depends on if you want your work to be seen by more people, therefore you want to sell more of it, or if you are there purely for the money). If it’s something you want to sell during the degree show – talk to your tutors, read some books about it, articles online. When I sold a piece for the university collection, they told me their budget and I could decide if it was enough for me. Don’t undervalue your work though, however difficult that might be.
Have you experienced any form of internship, and if so, is it something you would recommend? How did you go about getting one? Are there any websites?
I guess you could see the residency as an internship, as we are supposed to help the staff out. You usually apply for it online. I recommend doing something similar right after graduation to have a nice transition from being a student into the real life. In a way, it helped me understand what I don’t want to do rather than what I want to do, but that is a start. I would suggest getting in touch with other people that have done an internship/residency in the same place you’re applying to. The things that are advertised are often very different from what you actually get.
Would you consider going back to education, do you have any plans for the future?
Yes! I hope I will never stop learning. I am very happy to have a break from education now though – it has been a rough 4 years of growing not only as an artist, but also as a person. I would love to do a specific design course in Finland. It is very difficult to get into, but I feel like right now I’m ready to specialise and do something that leads me to my dream career.
See more of Gabriele’s work by following the link below!