Thanks again for taking the time in your day to talk to us, can you tell us little bit about who you are and the work that you do?
Of course, thanks for having me! My name is Georgia Hill and I’m an artist and illustrator. I mainly focus on creating black and white artworks with bold phrasing and textures, ranging from exhibition works to large scale murals, installations, community based events and client projects. I really like to create powerful works than connect the viewer to the structures, environments and sense of self that shapes each of us, whether it’s mentally, physically or emotionally.
I’ve always loved letters and words, and how they can be manipulated (whether in writing or visually) to be so emotive and powerful. It’s not just the words on a page which shape a message, but this whole world they exist in, and is something I have really carried past my design degree into working as an artist. It can be a really scary thing to dive into because words and phrasing are so personal, but I think that’s where some of the most bold works come from.When I was finishing up my degree at UTS (Vis Com), it was really the first time I’d ever been shown you could use letters as a base of a career – I’d always thought if I went down the design/illustration path I would eventually get to draw some nice headlines if it just so happened to be a good week. I studied around the time letterers like Stefan Sagmeister, Like Minded Studio/Luca Ionescu, Jessica Hische and Alex Trochut really took off in Australia, which also combined with a tutor suggested I focus on what I had actually always loved to do (which is drawing letters, not making websites, and thankfully) it really took off from there into artworks instead of design.
Who, what or when were the biggest influence and teachers that helped shape the way you think/work now?
I think I really came into my own style after living and working in Berlin. I was part of an incredible small studio there and met a lot of other great artists who were really coming up as far as graffiti and mural works. It got me out of the rut in my brain and really made me question what kind of work I want to make, and what life I want for myself. I really love that I’ve gotten to work with some incredible teams and artists over the past five years, which has really shaped how I see and am influenced by things too. I love to look to type and all it’s applications (graffiti, hand styles, formal type design, illustrative lettering, branding, manipulation and even day to day use) but also really push myself to look into disciplines or themes I’m interested in but aren’t obviously type related.
Definitely – it also means I get to more pizza places haha. I really thrive on the immediate challenges travel can give you, and I need that feeling of my brain working, but I also love the effects of thing you saw 3, 6 months ago finally sinking in and forming that next idea – I feel like the effects and growth takes a really long time to sink in but it’s so important and unpredictable. I also really feel more myself when I’m ‘away’, and have to focus on the main things, which right now are painting and the people who come with that world. Travelling also leaves me with all these contradictory states – it gives me energy and completes exhausts me, makes me want more for myself and for my work, as well as being this constant stimulant. It makes me feel capable and small at the same time, and I think through all these contradictions you really learn something.
I eventually put these limits on myself because they are tones, themes and an approaches that I’m just really passionate about. I really thrive on contrasts, boldness, detail, and messages that connect with a viewers own context and environment to build an overall meaning, which could change from day to day or person to person. I think this stems from me being worried about preaching or tell people what to do with these words, so instead it’s an invitation to bring their own story or interpretation to what I’ve created and have an open conversation or moment of reflection about it. I also think this lets me deal with more abstract themes, as some people read things so literally, or in new ways I can’t even predict.
It’s always been a goal for me to be versatile – I’m not so sure why, but I think I like knowing I can get any idea I have across. I’m having to change my mindset on this though, as things get bigger and bigger and asking for help is actually *so* helpful haha. There’s mediums I still need to get my head around – oil paint, concrete, leatherwork – which aren’t exactly large scale mural works but need just as much time and attention (which might explain why I’m being very slow at getting to it!). I’d always wanted to make sure my work scales up, and I really forced myself to be happy with my style and output before I got to that stage. But more and more it’s about being able to execute the idea, so whatever the medium is I’m going to try to get my head around it.
I’ve never experienced any deliberate push back, but I think there are plenty of small ingrained things that do add up, which both men and women do. Sometimes even the way females talk about their work puts themselves down a peg, whereas guys often have a blind confidence, and I made an effort to try to stop myself falling into this trap. There’s a lot of small things to be tweaked, but I’ve also been very lucky to work with really supportive people, both male and female, who have pushed me and know I want that challenge too. I think collaborating with people and brands shows this too – it’s not about who you are but it’s what you produce and the attitude you bring to that.
How do you keep things fresh and inspired? A lot of people are usually asked to play out their greatest hits all the time yet you’re still standing out in the crowd.
I really push myself with every job, which can leave you a bit exhausted but in the best possible way! When I feel this slipping away from me I try to take a bit of time out to refresh and see what new ideas are there for myself, that will eventually come around into a job again. I always want to see myself do something better every time, whether it’s trying a new style, a little tweak, being faster than I was 3 months ago, or putting in 3 more times the detail. I have limits I set for myself – a pretty standard font and a black and white palette – which actually gives me so many exciting directions to explore and build on. I also really make a point of offering a client a latest sketch, a new approach, or some variation of what they’re seeing of my work, because often that’s at least a year old and my brain is in this next stage. I make sure to ask for more and try to make someone else’s project work for what I want to see myself do too.
I think it’s so important to look past trends – it’s a tricky thing, because you need to be informed and know what’s happening in your industry at the same time, but you really need to make sure your own style is coming through too. It’s so important to look to what make you excited, not just your client or the latest good thing, and be willing to do the marathon instead of a quick sprint. I know it’s easier said than done but you can work on your own style, at your own pace, and find success with that when the time is right. Being original to me is so, so valuable, comes in so many forms and has limitless applications.
Be original, be brave with your work (advice I should take on too!), and be good people! I love that we have such a creative industry where we all shape our own values, integrity and directions, so if we all bring each other up we’ll keep thriving. I think this is something Australian creatives do really well – with my friends and I, we have really honest conversations about clients, prices, all of it – so when we’re all informed and on the same team we can make this work work for us too.