Meet Gabriella Barouch, an award-winning Israeli illustrator based in Tel Aviv. She has been recognized by Communication Arts, American Society Of Illustrators, YCN Professional Awards, 3x3 Pro Show, Hiii Illustration International competition and more. In 2012, Gabriella was also chosen as the Artist of Season during Jerusalem’s Season of Culture and lectured at Pecha Kucha. Her work is internationally recognized and exhibited.
Gabriella Barouch loves to travel, and in the past few years has visited Iceland, Denmark, France, Switzerland, Germany and the United States, where she taught two illustration courses at Lehigh University.
She has worked with different clients on exciting projects such as making stamps and souvenirs for the French post office, has worked on children’s clothes for Soft Gallery Fashion and wine labels for Dalton winery. She has also worked on book covers, cd covers, editorial, theater art and more. Currently, she works from her home studio, living with her husband, their baby and her two cats Finn and Pi.
This is our first time working with Gabriella, and we are thrilled to get to know her and present her work through the interview. You can read more about her practice below and see more of her projects on her website here.
What does your workspace look like? Do you have any collections or items you keep close to your work space for inspiration?
I have a long table, with a lot of working tools such as colored pencils, pens, pencils and more. I also collect vinyl toys, vintage toys, and objects I find pretty. Finally, I have a laptop and computer with Wacom tablet, and a lot of illustration and art books for inspiration.
Are there any artists you look up to? What do they do?
The list is long but here's a few examples: I adore Camilla Engman for her gentle art and the very unique collections she makes. I love Bozena Rydlewska’s cut paper art and tunnel books, Brooks Salzwedel’s magical collages and of course Amy Cutler’s surreal drawings and installations.
A lot of your pieces have a very fantastical feeling, where do you get the inspiration for these? Books, tv-shows, movies, blogs you follow?
I'm inspired mostly by music, poetry, nonsense books, nature and other artists. I love Icelandic music ( a bit obsessed with Iceland you could say) - Mum, Sigur Ros, Samaris, Soley, Asgeir and more! I love Bon Iver, Enya, and Alt J as well.
I adore nonsense poetry, especially Edward Lear's limericks, and Lewis Carroll wrote some wonderful nonsense poetry as well. I think that they deal with hard and serious subjects through humor and surrealism, I find that brilliant.
I also adore Tove Jansson's writing, and of course Hans Christian Andersen and more.
It’s really interesting to see a magical/dream-like narrative in your pieces, is this an important element in your practice? What do you think is special about the difference between visual narrative and literary narrative?
It is important to me because I feel it's where the magic hides. I almost feel in love when I create a magical illustration. I think the difference between visual narrative and literary narrative, at least in my art, is that I give the viewer a glimpse into one scene from a whole story. It's up to the viewer's imagination to figure out the other details of the story.
Could you walk us through the process of how you create one of your illustrations? Ideation, sketch phase and final illustration?
At first, I have a general concept that I received from a client or came up with myself. Then I try to figure out how can I convey that concept with one image. I make sketches (very ugly sketches at that point) and when I have a sketch I’m satisfied with I make a second, more profound one. Then I collect references for the drawing. As for references - I just Google what I need. If I feel I need to buy a picture for copyrights I do so.
I mostly work digitally on the final art using my Wacom tablet and Photoshop. After I finish the line drawing, which is usually very detailed and takes time, I then start the coloring.
I saw that for one of your projects “Her Jerusalem”, you kept a visual journal while traveling through the city and it was then put together into a book. Were there specific things you were looking for while moving around? Could you tell me about what your sketchbook practice is like?
I actually didn't know what I was looking for at first. I was commissioned by Jerusalem Season of Culture to create a special project as artist of the season in 2012. So I walked for days all around the city, trying to figure out what to create and while collecting objects and sketches and taking pictures I realized I was only looking at the visual and magical side of the city.
I thought - well, this is a different point of view on Jerusalem since it's a very controversial city, haunted by wars for centuries. So, I made a naive and magical journey diary of the eight places I love the most.
As for my sketchbook practice - I used to draw in my sketchbook all the time but now since I have no time aside work and family I only sketch ideas for projects, and take notes for sketches and changes I need to make. I really miss my sketchbook sometimes.
Are there any specific places or certain elements from your daily life that you are inspired by? What are they and why are they interesting to you?
Since I'm working from home my inspiration comes mostly from my books, my music and my computer obviously. :) Not so long ago, one of my favorite bands - Sigur Rós made a 24-hour journey around Route 1 in Iceland, streaming live on YouTube the entire time! There I was, sitting at home and traveling around one of my favorite places in the world at the same time. What's more inspiring than that?
Do you have a favorite project you have previously worked on and why?
I don't have only one I love the most but, for example, I have worked recently on a poetry book cover named 'And Now the Journey' by Yehezkel Rahamim and the working process was very unique and interesting. I had artistic freedom and the poems are so inspiring. I enjoyed this project very much and I really love the final art as well.
At first I read the poetry book and I found the poems so inspiring. I always want to deal with journey because I feel it's a romantic issue and I get very inspired when working on this subject. One poem caught my heart; it was a poem about a traveling man who wears his house as part of him in the journey. I immediately visualized it and I start working on sketches. The writer loved my first sketch, we changed some tiny details and I started to illustrate! I feel this project was so unique because the poems spoke right to my heart and from there everything just happened so naturally.
Can you talk about any upcoming or current projects you are really excited about?
I'm currently working on a few projects but I'm most excited about a 3D illustration I'm making as a personal project, It's made with paper-cut layers. I've wanted to try this technique for a long time, I feel it gives the illustration a special feel of life, like the objects are reaching out for you.
I hope I will finish it soon :)
Thinking about duality and the juxtaposition in artwork, could you tell me about what you are planning on creating for the Never Odd or Even exhibition?
I thought a lot about the duality concept and after playing with a few concepts I decided to go with the concept about how a lot of things that surround us are so beautiful yet so fake - generated by humans to look perfect. I feel we live with this duality everyday and we don't even notice it anymore.
As a society, I think we developed intolerance to the imperfect, for example - people won't buy an ugly apple although it may taste amazing. We fix beautiful models in Photoshop so they’ll have no human flaws and we color our food so it would look more tempting and we make ourselves believe this is nature. We even generate animals to look the way we want, It's crazy. My point is that it's beautiful but it's not real.