This week we are interviewing the talented Amelia Giller for our illustrator feature! We love her empowering illustrations and her focus on women. If you haven’t, make sure you check out the free print and book art she illustrated for this month’s book club! As I was browsing Amelia’s portfolio, I came across her illustrated honeymoon photos and immediately fell in love! She explains, “On my honeymoon with my husband in Europe, I realized that our photos together were either taken by strangers or awkward selfies. I wanted to capture our fun in Paris and Amsterdam from our point of view, so I took photos and illustrated our favorite places.” How genius is that?!
We took a peek inside her creative process and got a behind the scenes look at her workspace. We hope you enjoy this month’s illustrator feature!
Illustrator Feature: Amelia Giller
A little bit about Amelia’s workspace:
My husband and I recently moved to a 1.5 bedroom so I could have a studio! It feels like such a luxury to have a space that is completely dedicated to my art. That being said, we’ve been so slow to set it up. I have wanted the space to be super clean and organized, and I feel like I’m finally getting to that point. I do most of my work digitally and so my desk-space isn’t that exciting. It displays things that make me smile – a bust of a woman I found at a flea market, a Peter Shire mug full of my favorite pens, some ceramics I made. The best part is that right outside my studio is the door to our patio. I love to take breaks and sit out there with my little pup who is growing so fast. He’s not quite a lap-dog anymore.
1. How did your illustrative style develop? How has it developed and changed over the course of your career?
I have always drawn a certain way though it’s morphed and evolved over time. I remember feeling very frustrated at my “line” in school because I couldn’t get my art to look super realistic like some of my classmates. It wasn’t until I was at grad school at USC that the way I draw became something I felt proud of. My “line” that I used to be embarrassed about is now something that I treasure. It’s my signature and I wouldn’t trade it for any other ability. My work is always changing and it’s a good feeling.
2. What do you doodle when you aren’t making anything fora specific project or client?
Oh man, I only draw women. It’s becoming a problem. I need an excuse to draw children, men, trees or something else because I’m distracted by only drawing ladies.
3. How do you stay original, and what tips on the subject do you have for other creatives?
I know it’s really hard to stay original in today’s Pinterest and Instagram world and I would be lying if I don’t find myself online looking for inspiration. But that’s also why it’s so obvious when artists copy each other!
The way I stay creative and original is pretty simple. I draw what I like to look at and what interests me in a personal way. I think staying true to the subjects, stories, and colors you personally find interesting is how all artists can contribute to illustration. Instead of looking to what others may like or what is trending, I find it best to just look within myself. Not many people are from Texas, living in Los Angeles, have a fuzzy black dog and a college sweetheart, have an obsession with tuna fish casserole and feminism. All of that adds up to my own outlook on the world.
4. Along those lines, how do you react when you sense that other people are copying your work?
A few of my fellow illustrators and I talk about it a lot, and it’s become almost a rite of passage to be ripped off. We’ve been copied by bigger illustrators and by people starting out. We’ve been copied by our friends! I have a friend who copied an idea and color scheme from me and it was published on a big site and their Instagram. I’ve gotten to the point where I find it funny – was I not supposed to notice? My friends and I always catch the copies and send them to each other and shake our heads with laughter.
5. Where and how do you get inspiration?
I go through ups and downs with inspiration, and for that matter, creativity. Recently I finished an animated piece for the New York Times about a woman – Cassandra – and her decision to have children. I found her story to be incredibly inspiring. She had so much to say and said it so eloquently. It was a joy to just take her story and bring it to life.
For personal work, my inspiration is rockier. I use the internet as a crutch. I love to find photographs and try to evoke the same feeling in an illustrated image. It’s not about using the photograph as a basis for composition or color, but really about the emotion I feel when looking at that image.
6. If you weren’t an illustrator, say, in an alternate universe, what would be your creative outlet?
I love sculpting. I have been making little clay figures for a few years and I’d like to do it more. Since I spend like 1000000 hours a day on the computer, anything physical is really appealing. Someday (hopefully sooner rather than later), I want to make more wearables of my art. I used to sell a lot lot lot of pins, but it ended up being too much to keep track of with my day job at Buck and my freelance at night. But my plan is to make more art that you can wear in the future.
7. What does your studio or workspace mean to you?
This is such a tough question because I’m in such limbo right now with my workspace. At my day job, I’m often moving around and so my desk is not always “my” desk. And at home, my office is by the back door and I have a new puppy who is learning to ask to go outside. Sigh. Sometimes my workspace is my iPad Pro at the kitchen table. I think I have been kind of a nomad when it comes to desk space.
8. Do you feel that attending art or design school is crucial for an artist to “make it” in 2018?
It totally depends on what “making it” means to you and what you want to do. I didn’t go to art school. For undergrad, I went to the University of Texas and I majored in Plan II Honors (a liberal arts program) and Radio, Television and Film. When I graduated, I had a hard time finding the jobs that I wanted. I had never really given myself the time to find my artistic style. I made the decision to go to grad school at USC for animation and that really changed my art. It wasn’t the school necessarily (although learning more about frame by frame animation and getting the opportunity to tell my own stories through animated films was amazing), but more the chance to spend time on my own work. For any artist, learning about yourself and your own creative drive is the most important thing you can do.