In the 13th of the series of Sofa Chats, top artist Gabriella Anouk, in conversation with Anke Summerhill about how she become an artist, NFTs and which is her favourite Minotti piece.
Gabriella’s interest in drawing started at a young age but became her passion in her late teens. She attended Loughborough University and completed a Graphic Communications and Illustration degree. After graduating from university Gabriella built a successful commission-based art practice.
In 2021 she was inspired to change direction in her art practice and express herself more fully, exploring different techniques and subjects.
Hit the play button below to watch the full conversation, or read the full transcript below:
Anke Summerhill: Hi, I’m Anke Summerhill from Minotti London, and for today’s sofa chat I have the lovely Gabriella Anouk with me. Gabriella, thank you for coming.
Gabriella Anouk: Thank you for having me.
Anke: Lovely to have you here.
Anke: Gabriella, you are a budding artist, or maybe an established artist, depends how long you’ve known you are an artist, which brings me to my first question, when did you realise you were actually good at art?
Gabriella: Well, I’ve been drawing all my life, really, but it was probably, well at that school I’ve always drawn, but then I went to university and did graphic design, and the whole time I was there I never actually got to draw too much because it was all CAD and website things.
And then it was after university when I started to take commissions and started drawing commissions, and I did that for about three years, and throughout that time I just really fell in love with drawing.
Anke: Yeah, but did it never occur to you when you went to university to go to art school?
Gabriella: So I was advised to go down the graphic design route because there’s more careers in that field, at the time there was, but now I think with social media you can do anything you want to do if you just put your mind to it.
Anke: Set your mind to it.
Anke: And have a passion, a real passion for what you do.
Gabriella: Definitely, yeah.
Anke: Okay. So you have your first exhibition coming up tomorrow.
Anke: So I know you’re both excited and a little bit nervous because you’re going to show work that you’ve worked long and hard on to the harsh public, and your art is, this series is called the Slime Series.
Anke: Tell me, how did this come about?
Gabriella: So it was about just under a year ago where I started to become a little bit unsatisfied with what I was doing. So I was taking on a lot of commissions, you know because-
Anke: I commissioned you.
Gabriella: Yes, you did twice.
Anke: Did I?
Gabriella: Yes, twice.
Anke: Oh, nice of me, yes.
Gabriella: And so after I found myself just feeling a bit unsatisfied, and it was during lockdown so I felt the need to change direction in my practice. And because of lockdown, I had to choose things that were in my house, so avocados was the first one that I went to.
Anke: You have a lot of avocados in your house.
Gabriella: Yeah. And I was experimenting with lots of different things, dipping things in paint and then drawing these household objects, like a house plant that I did, but I found that if you dip something in paint, once it’s dipped in paint you can’t change it again.
Gabriella: So then I still added to experiment with slime, and the great thing about slime is you can drip it on something and then peel it off and then drip it on again, take lots of pictures, and then draw the perfect shot that you get.
Gabriella: So that’s how the Slime Series came about.
Anke: So you just sat down and, what can I use? And you have a little slime in your house.
Gabriella: No, so the slime is actually you can make with household things. I have a younger sister who’s 14 and she was playing with slime, so I thought that’s really cool, I want to try out slime. And it worked, it worked really. It’s the unnatural side of slime that I like with the natural fruit, that contrast is really interesting to me.
Anke: So you said this started during lockdown.
Anke: So obviously you want to get reactions from people, but in lockdown. So did you use social media lot to test the work you’re experimenting with?
Gabriella: Yeah, so TikTok was the platform that really helped me throughout lockdown, because I could share my process with them, not just by videos, but by also going live. So I did a lot of live streaming, and people would then engage with me while I was alone in my studio, and that was really amazing for me.
Anke: Yeah. So do you find it easy to engage with people on social media?
Anke: To do little surveys, or ask questions.
Gabriella: To start off with the lives were so scary, I didn’t say a word, I would literally just have the video filming my desk. But then after a while I started to talk and engage with them, and it is amazing, the amount of people you can reach, and it’s all across the world.
Anke: So your art’s pretty cool and usual, I haven’t seen anything like it before, and the colours are really, really vivid. So did you do, I mean, did you do any opinion polls, or what people really like to see, or you just asked more for reactions on what you had done?
Gabriella: Yeah, so I started to share my drawings, snippets of them so they didn’t know what the drawing would be and I’d ask them, “What do you think the drawing is?” Or, “What do you think I’ve dipped in slime or dipped in slime,” and I’d get all these people guessing.
Once I did the dragon fruit, the dragon fruit heart. People thought it was cherries, because they were thinking all about pink things, strawberries, and that’s how they engage with the practice.
Anke: Yeah, yeah. So which artists would you say, or people, don’t have to be artists, have inspired you as an artist? I mean did you visit, as a child on school trips to museums, and think, I love this work, or did you on holiday visit anywhere that really struck you?
Gabriella: So I did recently go to the Dali Museum in Spain, and it was incredible. He’s always been an inspiration to me, Dali has, but to actually see his work up close and personal was amazing because his pieces are quite absurd and different and surreal, and that’s what I’m attracted to.
Anke: Yeah, because I’ve been to that museum a few times, I have a hate/love relationship because one, the location’s really beautiful, some of his art I love, and some of it is unsettling and uncomfortable.
Anke: Is that something you’re also maybe trying to do, and so people see your food piece is used, or seen in a completely different way.
Gabriella: Yes, that’s exactly, that’s perfectly explained because-
Anke: Okay, no answer.
Gabriella: No, no answer. No, I love his absurdism, and the fact that I’m dripping something slimy on something so natural, I’m just attracted to the texture and changing-
Anke: The contrast of the pieces.
Gabriella: Yeah, changing shapes as well.
Anke: Now about the exhibition tomorrow, that is your very first exhibition. Have you ever… So the first time that it’s physically seen?
Anke: By people. So have you sold any of your pieces yet? Are there any people collecting your work?
Gabriella: So the actual originals, I’ve sold one of those, although they aren’t for sale, but I did sell one of those. And then we’ve also got NFTs for sale on the night, and prints, or additions, and yeah, it should be just a really fun event. But it’s more of an event to show my work physically for the first time.
Anke: Yeah, and speaking to people face to face.
Gabriella: Speaking to people face to face, and also I will be revealing my last piece in the series.
Anke: Oh, I saw that on social media, we had to guess what it was.
Gabriella: It’s behind a screen.
Anke: What did I guess?
Gabriella: A strawberry.
Anke: Probably not a strawberry.
Gabriella: Well, you don’t know, could be.
Anke: You just mentioned NFTs.
Anke: I’ve only just heard of this a couple of months ago for the first time. Can you please explain to those of us who don’t know what NFT is, what it is?
Gabriella: NFTs are, well it stands for non-fungible token, and it’s essentially something that’s unique to you. So if you purchase an NFT, it’s yours, you keep it in your, wherever you want to keep it.
Anke: In your cloud.
Gabriella: I won’t go into all the details. Yeah, exactly, wherever.
Gabriella: But what I’m doing is the NFTs will be attached to a physical artwork, so you can actually hang the original, well not original, it’s a print, but you can hang that on your wall, and then you also have an NFT attached to it, so you get the best of both worlds.
Anke: Perfect, because I don’t see the point of having a piece that you don’t… A piece that obviously you buy because you love it, and then not get to see it on a regular basis.
Gabriella: No, a lot of people don’t understand why, so that’s why we’re doing the double.
Anke: Yeah. Okay. See, I’m learning something all the time. Now, Gabby, about your, I have to come to your style, because obviously we work in the interior design industry, and I now know a little bit about your artistic work. What about your home? How would you describe your style at home?
Gabriella: I’d say quite minimalist, a bit Scandinavian, a couple pops of colour.
Gabriella: A lot of house plants.
Anke: Bring nature in.
Gabriella: Yeah, bring nature in, definitely.
Anke: Have you always loved house plants, or just because of COVID and bringing nature in?
Gabriella: I think it was a little bit, before COVID I had a few, but then during lockdown I started to propagate all my little plants and make lots of plants. I have a jungle now.
Anke: Okay. So is there any piece of furniture, I mean not you, but in general, any furniture style or manufacturer that you really like?
Gabriella: Tough question, but I could answer what my favourite Minotti piece is.
Anke: Okay, oh, you’ve already had a little look around and chosen a nice piece?
Gabriella: Yeah, yeah. Well, I like the Brasilia armchair.
Anke: Ah, yeah.
Gabriella: Am I saying that correct?
Anke: You said it very correctly.
Gabriella: Because of the, again, it’s the contrast of the wood with the texture of the fabric, I love that.
Gabriella: I hope hopefully will own one of those one day, they’re very nice-
Anke: You might if you sell enough pieces next Tuesday.
Gabriella: Yes, studio edition, lovely little chair.
Anke: Maybe cover one in slime maybe.
Gabriella: I could do that, I could.
Anke: So do you think, talking again about the slime, do you think you could take, you’ve used fruit and vegetables, would you use slime on anything, have you tried it on people?
Gabriella: So I haven’t tried it on people yet, but I am in the conceptual stages of my next series.
Anke: Oh, maybe slimy people.
Anke: Oh my gosh, you’re going to have to find some victims.
Gabriella: Well maybe, maybe, it could be people, but it could be anything else.
Anke: I’m going to visit your exhibition, obviously.
Gabriella: Yes, can’t wait to see you.
Anke: I’m really looking forward to it, I’m very excited to see the pieces in the flesh.
Anke: And so you have the original pieces there?
Gabriella: Original pieces.
Anke: And then you do limited prints?
Gabriella: Yeah, so additions and NFTs.
Gabriella: But we’ll be revealing the final piece, and your guess is strawberry.
Gabriella: Definitely locked in?
Anke: I don’t know, I’ll have a little think today and see what happens.
Anke: Well thank you very much for coming, I know you’re really busy organising it, so really appreciate your time.
Gabriella: Well thanks so much for having me, this was so nice.
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