Hi Gabriella, thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak to us today. Firstly, can I ask was there a specific moment in your life growing up that you just knew you wanted to be an artist?
Hey, thank you for taking the time to interview me! There was a moment yes, it was when I was around 10 years old and my teacher held me back in class. He called my parents in and showed them a bear I had drawn that had impressed him. Looking back, it was a pivotal moment in my life! I struggled so much with reading and writing because of my dyslexia so it filled me with confidence to finally have something I was ‘good at’. I think it’s so important to influence kids when they’re young and nurture their confidence and passions because it can have a momentous ripple effect on their lives.
If there are anyone out there unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe it for anyone who hasn’t seen it?
I would describe it as hyperrealism, particularly playing around with scale and reflections. I’m attracted to disruption and damage, turning mundane objects into sculpture like objects which I then draw as realistically as I possibly can. I was recently told I fall into the category as an ‘OCD artist’. Which made total sense to me because when I start a new piece I become obsessed with finishing it, which is great because they can take up to 200 hours of work!
Your work has such a distinctive look to, in being so incredibly hyperrealistic and your use of such bold, vibrant colours with lushes’ depictions of detail and layers of texture. Could you tell us how you developed this unique aesthetic?
Wow thank you! So, I started drawing pets and portrait commissions full time four years ago. Then last year when COVID hit and we went into lockdown I was forced to reflect on my practise and ultimately, I didn’t like what I was doing. I guess I wanted to do something so opposite to my pet portraits that I ended up with large scale drawings of slime covered fruits and I totally fell in love with it, so there’s no turning back!
You soared to prominence on through TikTok in which you now have over 400k followers! Can you tell us how this amazing surge in followers happened and how it has this impacted your practice?
Again, this was a product of the COVID lockdown. Usually I’m fine drawing in my studio on my own, day after day, and I get my social dose at the weekends but during lockdown that of course wasn’t possible. The loneliness was pretty extreme so I turned to TikTok and started doing livestreams, it was a game changer. Not only was I able to share my work and receive instant feedback, the loneliness was gone! As silly as it sounds, I feel like I have a lot to owe to TikTok.
On this note, with social media now becoming an incredibly important and pretty much essential tool for artists in the modern age. Is there any advice you can offer artists to help them with their social media profiles?
Be authentic to yourself and your talent!! Don’t follow trends for the sake of following trends. There’s no rhyme or reason behind going ‘viral’ and if I’m being honest, when you eventually do go viral, the magic wears off pretty quick. That’s why it’s so important that you love what you do and you post because it makes you happy - not because you want views and likes. I like to treat social media as a diary, documenting my journey and being able to share it with the world is just an added bonus and an incredible opportunity!
One thing we’re always intrigues by is going beyond the studio doors to see what happens behind the scenes. Do you have any studio habits to get those creative juices flowing?
Ooh love this question and I wish I could give you a really cool and mysterious answer but there’s nothing crazy happening behind my studio doors. Most of my ideas come to me when I’m driving or dreaming. I guess I do have one rule or ‘ritual’ before I start a new piece which is that I need a clean workspace. Then I wont clean the space until I finish a drawing..
And if we were to wander into your studio what materials would we find and why are these integral to your practice?
After the huge success of your incredible Slime Series show in London earlier this year could you tell us what the rest of 2022 has in store for you?
Thank you! I’ve got a couple shows, commissions and a new series to work on so it’s looking like a busy year!
For information on Gabreilla and The Slime Series, visit https://www.gabriellaanouk.com/