By Lorraine Ellis
Gigi is a relative newcomer to the local street art scene and this is the first time we’ve had a chance to engage in conversation.
It was a wide-ranging discussion covering the many facets of life: puppetry, print making, art school, miniatures and society.
When Gigi turned 20, she went travelling by herself and spent three years abroad. It was a time spent exploring her European roots and connecting with Austrian relatives. And even though she’s Australian born, she experienced a feeling of coming home. Family aside, Gigi felt an immediate connection with Europe, its culture, aesthetics and cuisine.
Along the way she was to have many life-changing experiences that are only possible for the solo traveler.
“You’re out of your comfort zone and open to whatever comes your way. Forcing you to get out there and embrace life,” she said.
Although her younger years were brimming with creative enthusiasm, societal pressures and practical constraints restricted her in the pursuit of art as a career. For 10 years she dabbled in many things. However, a life-altering experience inspired her to follow her instincts and passion.
“I needed to stop listening to the nay-sayers and do what was right for me,” she said. “So I put a folio together and was accepted into NMIT. The rest is history!”
A Germanic heritage has had a definite influence on Gigi’s subject matter, with more than a slight nod to the darkness of Grimm’s fairytales. European aesthetics and values have come to the fore.
“Being non-judgemental and open to life experiences and cultural differences has helped me with my imagery – understanding, accepting and accommodating people’s idiosyncrasies and individuality. This comes from a feeling of being suppressed and trying to conform to societal norms and constraints.”
“I was never going to be that person society was demanding me to be – living by other people’s rules. So my characters are a mixture of this individualism and the acceptance of others foibles.”
“My art is a way for me to express my individuality, as well as channeling that of others – the pleasures that we have that are kept secret for fear of disapproval. People on the margin of society – these characters that I create – are very much part of me. We should be allowed to enjoy what gives us pleasure, within limitations! To be able to act a certain way and accommodate differences.”
Some people find Gigi’s imagery unsettling yet humorous at the same time. She has the ability to create personalities within her characters that secretly make you smile.
As for street art, Gigi has been pasting up delicately-coloured and detailed one-off drawings featuring unique characters. Her medium of choice is fineliner and watercolour.
“The colour can’t be too intense as there will be a loss of detail. I’m possibly making them way too detailed and difficult to spot and photograph. However, I don’t have a problem with this, as I feel it forces the passer-by to stop and observe the smaller, as opposed to, bigger picture,” she said. “I really enjoy creating art for the street – that chance discovery thing.”
Gigi was exposed to animation during the year that she studied illustration at TAFE. Although the hand drawing of each cell was a time-consuming and laborious process, it was ultimately a pleasurable and magical experience to see her efforts come to life and the characters emerge.
This is a form of expression that Gigi is keen to explore further. And although it’s early days, she is considering branching out into 3D stop-motion animation. This will then become a means to bring her quirky and imperfect, yet endearing characters to life. Such creations will be something uniquely Gigi!