Studio Tours: Laura Gee

Studio Tours: Laura Gee

We discovered Nottingham born, London based illustrator Laura Gee when we attended her exhibition at Lik & Neon last winter and have been hooked on her animal illustrations and offensives captions ever since! To celebrate Lazy Oaf being the newest stockist of her range of cushions and prints including our favourite, the 'My Friend' collie dog design, we visited her Hackney Downs studio to check out her latest work and chat about studio life, ceramic love and pissed off animals. Tell us about yourself… I am illustrator and I own Oh My Gee which is my product range. I create lots of funny, weird, rude illustrations. How does Oh My Gee differ from Laura Gee? Oh My Gee is more for consumers and customers so it’s more product focussed whereas Laura Gee is more artworks and one-offs. How long have you been making art for? I went to uni in Manchester and did illustration and then I came down to London about three years ago and had a think of what I wanted to do and making products felt like a really natural thing for me. I have been drawing since I was little, but I guess everyone says that! When did you start selling your work? About two years ago, I started making the beardy men cushions that were based on my dad originally. These were quite popular at pop-up shops and then other shops got involved too like a few stockists out in Japan, they really like it their actually. And then from that I started doing more cards, more cushions and then the rude animal range came out in 2013. What inspires your designs, like the rude animals? I think a lot of it is inspired by how I’m feeling, I guess a little bit passive aggressive! But the rude animals originally started from an exhibition I was involved with called ‘Behind the Scenes of a Circus’ where I was doing some sketches of animals and they were all really cutesy so I thought I would make them really pissed off. So I elaborated on that for my own work by putting a cute drawing of an animal with heavy text inspired by my owns emotions and I liked the outcome. What’s your favourite material to work with? Watercolour or acrylic. I like watercolour for my sketches then acrylic for the more bold work like my cards. I’ve also started to do some stuff in ceramics which is really fun and playful, I want to do more of that. What’s studio life like at Hackney Downs? It’s really good here! It’s an open plan space for lots of artists, designers and small businesses; there are lots of creatives here like photographers, illustrators, jewellery makers etc so I get to meet lots of good people. I much prefer working here, before I was working from home and I wasn’t as productive but when I come here I am so much more efficient. It’s good to get to communicate with other people and learn small things about how other people work. There’s a good community spirit, we all go for drinks and stuff. Will you be decorating the studio for Christmas?! Yes, you’ve got a bit of mistletoe behind you! And I’ll be putting some more holly up and I want to do secret Santa or something. What’s your favourite thing in your space? I do love coming in and seeing my ceramic face just because it makes me happy. It’s just there in the background, so if I’m ever feeling stressed I have this weird little thing smiling at me. What’s the best thing you’ve drawn recently? I’ve really liked doing my sweary floral range, I loved doing the ‘Tosser’ one! Apart from that I like my latest design featuring the quote ‘Life shrinks or equates in proportion to one’s courage’ which is based on a quote from one of my favourite writers Anaïs Nin. What’s been your career highlight so far? Getting into Lazy Oaf! And I think just being able to do my own work and have customers like my stuff and being able to expand on that and feeling supported. I think that is a more general career high. It feels good to be able to make work and know people like it and seeing them respond well to some of my more personal stuff, like when I do markets and see people laugh lots. That face on face interaction is a highlight for me. In a retail world that relies so heavily on the internet, do you think it is important to go out there and sell your products at markets? Yeah I think it is really important because you get to see what works and what’s popular, plus it’s a really good way to see your customers and talk to them. It is a real treat to have that because otherwise you’re just sending out orders online and don’t have that treat of seeing peoples reactions as they unwrap their gift. The market is good because you get to see people’s natural reactions. Have you got anything in the pipeline for 2015? I want to do more products, more ceramics, paintings, scarves – lots and lots! Finally, do you have any words of wisdom for budding artists out there looking to start their creative career? Trust yourself a bit more and trust what you are naturally into and just to keep doing what you love. It sounds a bit cringe but it all comes together in the end that way! ————————————————— A selection of Oh My Gee products are available online now and you can see more of Laura's artwork at www.lauragee.co.uk.