We caught up with the talented Wellington based illustrator Gina Kiel and found out all about just how much she loves her job, what she is currently collating on and how she got her start in the industry!
When did you fall in love with illustration and how did you get started?
Thanks to my father’s tendency to hoard things, I have stacks of drawings I did from when I could first hold a pen. I can’t remember what it was that drove me to sit for hours in a corner and draw strange character faces and castles in almost perfect perspective but I do remember copying the drawings of mermaids and fairies that my Mother or Nana had done. I also remember my grandparent’s Asterix and Tintin collections, and characters from Disney films being the first of many drawing obsessions.
Where did you study and what were some of your first jobs?
After drawing my way all through high school, including in maths, english, science, and history classes, I got a job at a small animation company where I created simple frame-by-frame animation sequences with a pencil and a light box. I weighed up wether or not to go to art/design school to get a degree but I realised that I already had my foot in the creative industry door. Why quit my job to go and study to get a job? So I continued working instead and gradually moved into freelance illustration.
Tell us about where you are today and what you love about your job!
Today I am sitting in my home ‘studio’ which consists of a desk in the dining room of our little two bedroom villa, with its high ceilings, white walls, wood floors and a very healthy vege garden in the back yard, in Wellington, one of the most lovely creative little cities in the world. Creating illustration and art is the thing I love doing the most and the thing I would be doing no matter where or when so I often think how lucky I am to be doing it as a job. I read a quote somewhere today “Doing what you love is freedom, loving what you do is happiness”. If I’m not creating pictures life just doesn’t feel right.
What advice would you give students starting out?
I think the main thing is be true to who you are. Let your work come from your own authenticity and no one will be able to replicate it because no one can be you. Create as much as you can for your own enjoyment and your own personal projects among doing client work. Be kind, positive, reliable and communicate well. A good professional attitude will get you a long way. Learn how to charge appropriately for your work so we can collectively ensure that the industry continues to value what we do. The world is headed in the direction where artificial intelligence will takeover more and more but the thing we have that can never be replaced is creativity.
Tell us about any collaborations you have been doing: past, present or future?
Being a freelance illustrator working from home sometimes makes me feel like a bit of a lone wolf so I love a good collab! I really enjoy working on photography and illustration collaborations and I also work with Inject Design on a daily basis. The Inject studios are my home away from home and co-owned by my fiancé Harry A’Court. We are currently creating work for a mythology-themed, Affectors exhibition in Sydney with a whole bunch of other creatives all collaborating with each other on different interpretations of the theme. Watch this space!