Alongside my co-editor Emma Vince, I interviewed artist and illustrator Gemma Correll for the Winter issue of Razz My Berries Magazine.
When did you first start drawing? “I have been drawing for my whole life, really. At school, I was the go-to girl for making posters, flyers for fêtes, etc. and I even made my own comic called “The Chatterbox” when I was 10.”
We love the quirkiness of your illustrations! Where do you get your inspiration from? “I find inspiration everywhere. Often an overheard conversation, or a book that I’m reading, or simply someone that I see in the street. Sometimes I’m not even really conscious of these observations, but they’ll crop up later in a drawing.”
Our favourites have to be your “kitties”. Are they based on real-life cats, or real-life people? “I always have my old cat, Olli, in mind when drawing cats. He was my pet from age 11-22 and I adored him. So the actual drawings are often based on him, but the interactions are more likely to be based on people.”
Some of your work feels really personal. How much of your work is based on your actual experiences and how much of it is fictional? “Quite a lot of my work is based on real experiences, but sometimes I’ll embellish those experiences to make them funnier. Although, often I don’t need to- there’s so much humour in the simple exchanges and conversations that I witness every day.”
We enjoy your daily dairies. Is it easier to draw about your real life? “Yes, drawing about my life doesn’t require much thought, so I like writing/drawing my diaries at the end of the day- it helps me to gather my thoughts and really process what happened to me that day. Otherwise, I’ll go through a day working madly in my own little world and not really taking in the things that happen.”
Marmite. Love or hate? “Actually, I’m on the fence about Marmite. I do like it, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say “love”. My spread-related love is reserved for peanut butter.”
We couldn’t help but notice the recurring theme of pugs in your illustrations. Do you own one… two?… three? “I have one. His name is Mr. Norman Pickles and he is my favourite.”
The photos of your studio look really cool. Do you need to be in a certain environment to be inspired? “The most important things for me is that the environment I work in is quiet and warm, with internet access. It’s nice to be surrounded by pretty and inspiring things but I could work in a cupboard as long as it was comfy… well, it would have to be fairly spacious too.”
What advice would you give to budding illustrators? “There are a lot of would-be illustrators out there these days. The ones that succeed are those that work really, really hard and know how to market their work. It isn’t easy to begin with, but it does get better as the years go by, so don’t give up too quickly.”
Would you rather… never be able to draw again or only be able to communicate through drawing? “To only be able to communicate through drawing… that’s pretty much all I can do, anyway.”
What is the last thing you ate? “Tandoori prawns with rice and naan bread, cooked by my boyfriend, Anthony. It was delicious.”
If a stranger asked you to razz their berries, what would you reply? “Not today, but thank you for asking.” ▪
To see more of Gemma’s work visit www.gemmacorrell.com
Published in the Winter issue (issue five) of Razz My Berries Magazine.