I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Gina Triplett… and wow, I am so inspired by her work and her answers. She’s done work for some heavy-hitting clients like Target and Converse, but she’s so down to earth… and downright cool. I think you’ll be wowed by her too.
Thanks again for the interview, Gina!
Gina Triplett is an illustrator living in Philadelphia, PA. Besides working on projects for clients that include Target, Converse, Urban Oufitters and Chronicle Books, she enjoys spending time exploring the city, sitting at cafes, playing with her dog and collaborating on paintings with her husband, Matt Curtius.
How did you get started in the illustration field?
I was an illustration major at The Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore. I had some really great teachers there and was able to take part in some internships that helped me learn a lot about the business. My first internship was with Whitney Sherman who is a great female illustrator, and role model to me. My second internship was with Julian Allen. He had just moved to Baltimore from New York with his wife, Victoria Allen, and they showed me the magic of illustration. My third internship turned into and assistantship after I graduated, and was with Dave Plunkert and Joyce Hesselberth at Spur Design. This is where I learned a lot about how day to day life meshes with the managing of a business. They helped me land my first jobs by designing and printing my very first set of promo cards as a graduation gift. I have to give a lot of credit to all of these people for helping me out so much in the early days.
How did you find your style? Has it changed since you started?
I drew a lot in school. My manner of working initially came from my sketchbook drawings. Over the years it’s evolved both consciously and subconsciously.
What is your process when working with clients? Can you run us through a typical job? What is your creative process?
I’ll generally get an e-mail from a client directly, or via my rep. I’ll weigh the factors of schedule, content and budget in deciding if the job is right for me. If I take it, I’ll then review the art direction. This is usually in e-mail format, but sometimes comes via a phone meeting. I’ll come up with a few sketches. I’ll refine these, scan them and e-mail them to the designer. At this point, one of them is approved, approved with a few changes, or sometimes, another round of sketches is needed. Once the final is approved I then transfer the sketch and create my finals with paint and ink on paper. The final is usually scanned and sent in an e-mail, or if it’s big, as an ftp upload.
How do you market/promote your work?
My rep does a few big mailer promotions a year and then a few smaller postcard promotions. Annuals have been a good form of marketing and promotion as well. Also, I feel like my website is super important for visibility and always feel a little guilty for not updating it more.
Do you have a rep? Why/why not?
My rep is Frank Sturges. I enjoy working with him because he handles the work flow and business aspects in a personal way.
What was one of your favorite assignments?
I’ve loved working on so many of the things I’ve done, but one that stands out is a signature Converse shoe I did for Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners. When I took the job I assumed they would send along a template or something flat for me to paint on. What I received in the mail was a white Chuck Taylor. I painted directly on it, which made me feel like I was back in high school. I can’t imagine the production headache it must have been deconstructing the sneaker and somehow making screen separations from my painting. They even faithfully captured the sections I did with a silver paint pen.
What is the best part about what you do?
I enjoy the process of making art and that my career allows me to spend my time doing these things.
Describe your work setting.
I switched studio locations this year from a farmhouse in an outer neighborhood of the city to a town home in the center if the city. In our last place, my husband and I shared a converted carriage house that looked out to our garden. That was great, but we’ve traded it for some more activity and a pair of converted bedrooms across the hall from one another. Mine looks out to the neighborhood, Matt’s looks out to the skyline and city hall. Both have the usual: computers, lots of supplies and books.
Do you have side projects you work on?
Matt and I collaborate on paintings for gallery shows. They actually started off as just for galleries, but we’ve sort of let them morph into another illustration format for us. Now, we’ll have a few canvases around that we’ll work on over the long term, while the illustration work flows through as a series of shorter term deadlines.
How do you maintain balance in your life between work and play? What do you do for fun when you’re not working?
That’s actually why we moved to a more central location. I’ve figured out that my life affords little spaces between work. Our new place lets me fill these spaces with visits to friends, walks and cafes. A lot of times, I’ll work all day, slip out to join friends for food and then get back to the studio to paint some more late at night.
Do you ever have creative slumps? What do you do then?
Matt and I spend a lot of time talking about what we’re doing and where we’d like to take it. By now, I think we’ve learned how to see those slumps coming and head them off before they actually affect the work.
What do you do for fun/when you’re not working?
We’ve enjoyed some traveling lately, but usually it’s just the simple things of sipping coffee, playing with my dog and talking with friends.
What has been inspiring you lately?
Traveling in Italy, Panda Bear, Hendricks and melon, barbecues in the yard, the beach, people on the street, fabric, my neighborhood, and my little garden.
Any advice for others who are pursuing creative goals?
Just the usual, stick with it and be nice.