Celebrating Illustration | A Roundtable Hosted by Georgia Keeling and Elaoise Benson

!GWAK Visual Art Correspondents Georgia Keeling and Elaoise Benson speak to illustrators from the !GWAK community about the mindful, political and creative possibilities of the medium.


EVA MALLEY


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

It’s just something I’ve always done and find comfort in. Drawing is such a perfect form of expression and escapism - my life would be very dull without it! I love using fineliner pens or working digitally on Procreate.

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

My 'Housemates' print is probably my favourite currently. I’m really pleased with the overall composition of it, and love working on intricate, detailed pieces. I think it resonates with a lot of my followers as most are very similar to myself and at an age of starting uni, moving out, and finding their own path in the world.


Eva Malley

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration allows me to capture somewhat basic scenarios of everyday life, and give them a moment of appreciation. Almost romanticising daily tasks like reading a book, watering plants or going on a walk. I like to communicate that a simple life is also a beautiful life, and there is a lot of comfort in normality.



EMILY COLLYER


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I enjoy illustration because of how much is possible under that umbrella term - from painting and drawing to animation and clay making! My preferred medium is gouache paint

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT. This is a recent illustration of mine, showing a lady on her bed in leopard print underwear with a glass of wine and sex toys lying out in front of her. I call this 'The Perfect Night In', and I think it shows a woman proudly expressing her sexuality in the way she chooses to, going against gender norms of how women are “supposed to be”. This also shows that there is no one way to be a woman; we are multifaceted human beings, and deserve to be represented as such!


Emily Collyer

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration allows me to communicate my identity as a queer woman, as well as expressing female pleasure and wlw relationships away from the eyes of the patriarchal society we live in.


BELLE KIDD

WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I’ve always loved illustration because I feel like I have so much freedom in what I create and I can find inspiration almost anywhere! I really love working with just pens and pencils because they’re so easy to carry round if I’m going out for a walk and I feel like it’s the fastest way for me to get what I’m thinking out on the page!

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

This is one of my favourite pieces I’ve done. It’s of an old chair in my parents' house that I’ve always been drawn to since I was younger - as if it’s literally inviting me to sit down on it. I think that household furniture has a lot of stories to tell. You just have to look closely to find them.


Belle Kidd

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration allows me to share my thoughts and feelings with anyone who is willing to listen - ranging from deeper emotions to silly and wacky comments. I think it’s all about the story.



IZZY AYRES


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I enjoy illustration because, compared to other outlets/forms of my creativity, it’s quite instantaneous in its gratification of fulfilling that need to create and let out whatever it is that’s buzzing and jangling about up there in my mind. In the sense that I can just sit down and draw without having to necessarily think too much about what I’m doing. I suppose it’s quite a raw expression and pretty much always accessible and easy to do. Whereas if I’m making a physical three-dimensional sculpture or wearable objects to perform in, it's a much longer process. All I need is a black fineliner, maybe some crayons or oil pastels, whatever is lying about, to work in my more illustrative style.

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT. It is so difficult to pick a favourite but I shall try! I don’t know if I would say it’s my favourite but I just did this little piece the other day and I think it sort of sums up most of my work - I mean it’s a bunch of hairy naked ladies, trying to figure themselves and their flesh sacks out. Like a lot of my work, to a degree it has these sexual interactions occurring between the characters, but I don’t view them as overtly sexual or sexualised bodies - more so curious. The tone is more one of wonder/confusion and awe to the flesh they themselves own and of those they're surrounded by.


So despite the fact that, yes, that girl's got her tongue pointing towards that other girl and her genitals, it’s still not a picture defined by lust - more so by exploration. While sexuality and sexual identity is a facet of the conversations taking place between the women in my images, I wouldn’t say it’s at the forefront. It’s a bunch of bodies trying to explore the connections between their physical forms with that of their personal identity.


Izzy Ayres

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

I guess I sort of touched on this in why I enjoy it so much but for me - it just lets me communicate the crazy hazy world in my mind. It’s all those unspoken feelings and curiosities I have. It’s allowed me to represent visually all the confusion around my feelings of identity and my emotions. The frustration and utter joy of existing, and just being a body. It’s a way to communicate in quite a succinct visual form the completely non succinct complexities of being and all that comes with it.



MAIS AHMAD


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

Ever since I was young, I've always been interested in art and animation. Nearing my high school graduation, I started illustrating rather than painting, and developed my genre more throughout university and my freelancing career. My work usually revolves around spirituality, peace, and nature. Illustration helps me pause moments in my life, and frame these feelings or visions that I have throughout. I love to look at a piece of art and feel that it has affected my life or provoked a certain feeling or thought, and I like to believe that my illustrations provide a little slice of serenity to my viewers. I usually work by sketching a drawing or idea out that I later scan and line digitally. 


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

This is a piece called Daydreaming. I like to incorporate different natural elements (water, fire, earth, and so on) and they're symbolized here by different shapes, representing the bond between Human and Earth. During quarantine, I didn't go out much other than cycling every day, and after restrictions were lifted, I went on a hiking trip to a nearby town. This desire I had to leave the city and just engage with nature, was fulfilled; it felt as if I was holding my breath for so long, and I had finally taken a deep breath. Daydreaming represents that desire to just ground yourself, away from all these daily distractions, and connect, to nature, people, and yourself. A way to recharge.


Mais Ahmad


WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration enables me to visualize and translate feelings, goals, visions, and dreams. I experience very vivid dreams, and although I don't always replicate or illustrate the elements of my dreams, the surreal and dream-like state sticks with me when I think of the next artwork.



BEATRIX HATCHER


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I’ve grown up with drawing and it’s always been a part of my identity, which somehow snowballed into a career! I enjoy expressing ideas visually, as well as telling stories through pictures, and hope that other people will enjoy it too. Currently my work is all digital, using Procreate for the iPad Pro and Photoshop to create work, as well as sketching stuff in pencil in sketchbooks.

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

This is a really hard one as I don’t have ‘favourite’ illustrations as such - I am very self-critical! I’d say I like the pieces of work that I have made most recently, that I haven’t had time to pick apart just yet. I think at the moment it’s the map I did of Sydney and its beaches, as it’s the piece of work that I most enjoyed creating recently, and the one that reflects my current work and direction. It was one of those projects that I got really into and stayed up all night finishing! If you asked me this question in a month, I’d probably tell you something totally different – I think to an extent that is healthy though; hopefully it means my work is constantly evolving.


Beatrix Hatcher

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Whatever I need it to for any given illustration. It can be something personal, or something defined by a client. There’s an element of storytelling to a lot of my illustrations as well, as I think it’s really interesting how you can convey the idea of a narrative in a single image. In summary, I believe it allows me to communicate something that words can’t!


TIJANI FAYZAK


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I enjoy illustration because I feel have the freedom and control of drawing very specific things. It allows me to fully realise my imagination onto paper. My preferred medium is fineliner and markers, but I also use digital processes for colouring my work.

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

This is my favourite illustration I've done recently. It's inspired by a scene in A Clockwork Orange and communicates a retro futuristic young adult's room.


Tijani Fayzak

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration is great for communicating narratives and themes that I like to combine with pop culture and change it into my own style of art. I like to explore various ideas and illustration allows me to do so.



GEORGIA BORRETT-LYNCH


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I enjoy illustration because I have to focus on the subtle details of what I’m drawing, so everything else that’s going around me on disappears. I prefer to use ink pens and watercolours which creates a messy, loose feel to my work.

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

A lady selling grapes in Chinatown, New York. She set up her stand on the pavement of an extremely busy road, and yet she was so relaxed and content, just placing bunches of grapes into bags and selling them.


Georgia Borrett-Lynch

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration allows me to capture the small overlooked scenes of day to day life; the way someone is sat or the composition of buildings on a street corner.



DOMINIC MORRIS


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM?

I started drawing every day as a new year's resolution and loved it so much that I never gave it up. Illustration is like meditation for me, and allows me to create weird worlds. It's a form of communication that fascinates me.

SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE ILLUSTRATION AND TELL US ABOUT IT.

I was stuck in a creative block after doing Inktober last year. I drew this in a completely improvised style, not knowing how it would turn out, and it really reignited my creative drive. It took a lot of perseverance but it paid off in the end. It always makes me super happy when I look at it.


Dominic Morris

WHAT DOES ILLUSTRATION ALLOW YOU TO COMMUNICATE?

Illustration allows me to express myself through a constantly evolving style. My main goal with my art is to connect with others; if I can make someone feel something when looking at a piece, it's extremely rewarding.



MEG WATTS


WHY DO YOU ENJOY ILLUSTRATION AND WHAT IS YOUR PREFERRED MEDIUM? 

Illustration is all about call and response for me. I wait for an image from the text that strikes me; this is normally what I end up responding to. I know that I'm ready to illustrate something when the words call out a distinct, visual image, and I can see a way of either bringing it to life or subverting it; then it's just up to me to pop it onto paper.