Meet illustrator and pom-pom enthusiast, Taryn Gee. Born and raised in Canada, Taryn uses bold, flat colors accented with phenomenal line-work to create captivating portraits and places. A Light Grey veteran, you can find her work in several of our shows: GIRLS: Fact + Fiction, Beautiful Forever, Macro + Micro, and of course our current You Can Do It, Put Your Back Into It.
The lovely Taryn Gee
Where did you grow up, and where do you currently reside?
I am Canadian and have never left the country! I currently live in Oakville, Ontario but grew up in Ajax, Ontario. I basically have always lived around Toronto, but never in it.
What is your current job?
I'm currently working part-time as a framing assistant and part-time as a freelance illustrator.
When and how did you decide to be an illustrator?
I have always loved drawing and it just made sense to pursue a creative career. When applying to schools, I decided to go into illustration because it would teach me more of a business aspect as well.
A wall of inspiration
How do you stay active with your art making?
I always keep a sketchbook on me to draw in when I find myself unoccupied. I try to sign up for as many projects as possible to keep me active. Unfortunately when it comes to self directed pieces things don't get done as fast, so I try to work with others as much as possible.
When I get the chance, I love do draw with Kelly Bastow and Ashley Mackenzie! We usually visit independent/quieter coffee shops because there's less people in them. They live in Toronto and it isn't the easiest for me to travel out there often. When I was in school cafe sketching with other illustrators was very common, but now it's been a while I feel sad that I don't do it as frequently.
I wish I had a studio away from home! My studio is totally half of my bedroom. I love to go out to have a change of environment and brainstorm/sketch/paint in the mall, the lake or a cafe. Actually it's really hard to tie me down to one spot when I draw in my sketchbook, I'm all over the place determined to find inspiration.
What materials do you typically work with, and what is your favorite medium?
My favourite medium changes between graphite to ballpoint pen (I definitely go through phases) and colouring my line work in photoshop is a really important part of my process. Though I have been experimenting with acrylic and pencil crayon and have been really enjoying it. I'm always trying to find something new that can add to my technique!
A peek into her sketchbook
Can you talk briefly about your sketchbook? Is your sketchbook a place for ideas and experimentation, or do you spend more time finessing the drawings inside, like an artist's book?
I have different sketchbooks for different things! One is always on me that I invest more time in, it's more like an artist's book. There was a point where everything was done in my sketchbook, including finals. I think it was more of a comfort thing that I thankfully grew out of - lugging giant sketchbooks across campus was tiring! When I'm not feeling happy with a spread, I draw and paint over the previous pages until I am satisfied with it. It's this place where there's no external expectations and I have the power to show others only if I want to, which I think is really important. I have another book for concepts and rough work and it's definitely not as pretty, haha. Actually... I throw them out after they've served their purpose, which is probably not a good thing.
Who is your biggest influence as an artist?
The people around me are my biggest influence, I draw a lot of observational studies of them! As for artists I love, Kent Williams is my hero (I recently helped frame one of his original pieces and nearly cried). I also enjoy Klimt, Yoji Shinkawa and life style illustrations from the 50s and 60s! I find textiles super inspiring, I really enjoy knitting and cross stitch.
Do you have any big projects in the making?
Nothing big other than trying to really promote my work and get more illustration jobs. I'm working on some little zines for conventions and craft shows.
Can you tell us about some of your zines?
I only have sketchbook zines for now. I do a lot of personal comics of my experiences and I was hoping to make it into a zine in the future! There's a Goosebumps fanzine coming out in the fall that I will be taking a part of, it's run by Jennifer Ilett + Sabrina Parolin. I'm actually really excited to read the book I was assigned, it'll be so nostalgic! I'm still in the process of applying to several craft fairs and Art in the Parks, but I will definitely be at Fan Expo this year with the wonderful Kailey Lang!
Thank you, Taryn!
To see more of her work, check out her website, and be sure to take a gander at her piece for You Can Do It, Put Your Back Into It.