It is my pleasure to feature artist Signe Gabriel on the blog this month! Signe is a Danish illustrator from Lund, Sweden. You can check out her Etsy shop, follower her on Instagram, and peruse her beautiful artist website to see some of her outstanding collaborations and projects. You can contact Signe for commissions by sending her an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can you tell me a little bit about your journey with art? What inspires you, and what is life like in Sweden?
Like many other illustrators I was always drawing and painting as a child and just didn’t stop doing it as I grew older. However, no-one in my family are artists or even have their own business, so it took me some time to realize that the thing I wanted to do – which was, basically, drawing and painting all day – could actually be my job. I am from Denmark and started working from Copenhagen, but one year ago I moved across the bridge to Lund in southern Sweden where I live now. I live with my partner and a few friends in a really old house – all of Lund is really old, and I feel very inspired just living in a place like this. My imagination is always going, and I make up stories around the things I see, and this is really where most of my inspiration comes from, as well as old fairy tales and Scandinavian folklore. Before I moved here, I was already painting Swedish-ish nature and houses, so I think I was just meant to move here.
Lately I have started writing a little as well, putting words to all these stories I make up all the time. Really I think the picture book is an amazing medium. First of all, as an illustrator it is fun to have to make a whole bunch of drawings that have to work together to tell a story, and second I think it has so many possibilities and directions to go in. Picture books can be both fun, poetic, or educational. I think this is the direction most of my work will be going in the future.
What have been some of your favorite children’s books and magazine projects?
I have been lucky enough to work with Taproot Magazine a few times, and I always really enjoy illustrating articles for them. They focus on craft, sustainable living and homesteading. I love working with them, I feel like their themes are a natural fit for me and the articles are always interesting.
For some reason, I have been doing quite a lot of food illustration, which is also always a fun challenge. We see pictures of food all the time, so imagining food in new ways is a fun challenge. I like making tiny chefs running around arranging huge plates of food.
For the last few months, me and my partner have been working together on a children’s book about depression. It has been a heavy subject to dive into, but also a really rewarding process, and it just feels so important, which is really motivating to me. We are almost done now, and hopefully we will find a publisher for it.
What have been some of your other favorite projects or commissions?
A really fun commission I had last summer was creating a map for a conference center in Malmö. They own a whole block of historic buildings in the city center, and needed a map for their clients to be able to find their way. All these houses are different, but they are all painted bright yellow, and in the summer there is pink flowers growing everywhere. I got to sit in the sun and drink coffee and sketch and look at people for a few weeks. It is commissions like that that make me feel like I have the most awesome job in the whole world.
After spending time on commissions it is always nice to be able to spend some time with my personal projects. Here I can really pour myself into it and express myself just the way I want. Often, these are the projects that turn into posters for my Etsy shop.
Do you have any advice for artists pursuing their work as a business? Has your artist website and Etsy shop had a positive impact on your business?
My main advice for artists that would like to turn their work into a business is to make a good website. This is your window to the world and your chance to tell your story, so put a lot of work into it. Also, something I force myself to consider every once in a while, is whether or not the content on my website really shows only my best work. As artists we keep developing our skills, so sometimes we have to take down old favourites. It is better to show only a few, really great projects. As soon as you have a website running, send emails to all the people you can imagine working with!
Etsy has definitely had a positive impact on my business. It feels great sending a poster to the other side of the world to someone who for sure would never have heard about my work if they hadn’t found it on Etsy. In Scandinavia, not a lot of people now about it, but I have been able to direct people here to Etsy via my website.
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