- October 6th 2017
In celebration of our AW17 Coastal competition we chat to animal portraiture artist Jina Gelder, to find out what inspires her artwork.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an artist living and working in the North East, and I specialise predominantly in wildlife and pet portraiture. Alongside the artwork I produce a range of giftware and attend a range of fairs as well as working in my little rural studio.
Jina wears our Barbour Beachley Top.
How did your relationship with illustration begin?
Initially I wanted to be a fine artist, but after doing a college degree I switched to wanting to illustrate childrens’ books. After a disappointing time at university, I then inadvertently became a hybrid between an illustrator and a fine artist. I mostly work on my art, but I also take commissions for logo designs, magazine illustrations etc.
Can you tell us a little bit about your style of painting and the different media you use?
I work mainly in ink and watercolours with a smattering of acrylic, coloured pencils or whatever takes my fancy on the day. I work quickly to achieve a loose and lively finish for my animals. I use the ink first to look like fur, and then add the colour over the top.
Your visual subjects are always animals, ranging from wildlife to our favourite family pets, how did this come about?
After university I felt quite despondent, there’d been a big focus on digital artwork during the course which I hadn’t enjoyed. When I graduated I wanted to get back into making a mess and painting again. Animals seemed like a natural subject for me as I enjoy observing them in their natural habitats. In my head I see them as a series of circles and triangles which makes them simple to draw. I also really enjoy trying to capture a sense of character in my animals to celebrate their natures. I paint pets simply because I am a huge dog person.
How do you find the inspiration for each of your illustrations?
To begin with, I worked predominantly from photos and I still take a lot of reference photos myself. Sometimes you can capture some amazing shots of an animal doing something daft or cute which makes my job easy. Other times I have ideas in my head that I sketch out in my sketchbook first to get the proportions of the pose right.
You’ve illustrated some amazing images of wildlife and botanics, is there anywhere in particular that you gain inspiration from?
I visit zoo’s and love going out for a walk with the dog anywhere in the Northumberland countryside. Quite often I’ll find some inspiration there from ducks and birds to agricultural animals. National Trust properties are quite nice to visit for any floral inspiration, but having an iPhone means you can take good photos whilst out and about anywhere.
Alongside your original artwork, your range includes homeware and giftware, how did this come about?
Quite early on, I discovered that a lot of people liked my work, but not everyone can afford a print or an original. I wanted my work to be accessible to anyone so I started doing products as a way of making it easy to take home one of my animals. I like making people smile with my work, and it still makes me happy to think that people might have a lampshade sat next to their bed, or a chicken mug that they use in the office.
You live in the North East which is very near the coast, does this have an influence on your work?
I do occasionally draw coastal wildlife and it’s amazing how many people getting dog portraits send me pictures of their pooches at the beach. The coast is always my favourite place to unwind when I’ve been working too hard. I love the smell, the air and of course the scenery up here is amazing. I go for walks there regularly and normally indulge in some chips and ice cream. I always find I’m more creative when I take the time to have a wander outdoors.
Jina wears our Barbour Hive Knitted Jumper.
Do you have any particular animals which are your favourite to draw?
It depends on my mood. Dogs always make me smile with their different characters, but if I’m having a stressful time, I always like painting bigger birds, such as puffins or ducks, as you can get lost in the faffy detail of the feathers. I also think foxes are beautiful, and I love to paint animals getting a hard time such as foxes, hedgehogs or badgers. I think it’s important to remind people that animals have personalities too and, we share the countryside with them.
You’re often asked to illustrate images of pets – how do you go about this and what is special to include when creating each piece?
Every dog is unique, I often find it strange when people ask about me putting other people’s dogs onto things like mugs. I like my portraits to belong to the owner of the dogs but also I disagree with the notion that all one breed look the same. Each dog has its own personality, sometimes this is shown in the way they tilt their head, move their ears or the way they lie. Clients always send me photos to work from and sometimes I get to meet the dogs in person. I start with a sketch, and it is really important at the finish to capture the expression in their eyes.
We know you have your own dog, Tara. Has she ever made an appearance in your artwork?
I’ve painted her several times for family. She made a good present for my brother who had a tendency of giving my gifts to the charity shop! She’s also really good reference for working out how my made up poses of hares, foxes etc. should look. You can make animals do things in a painting you’d never get photos of in real life.
What does Barbour mean to you?
I’ve always liked Barbour as a brand for being both local and British. I think sometimes we get isolated in the North East but it’s amazing how many fantastic businesses we have based up here, both larger like Barbour and other smaller creatives. I also adore my Barbour jacket, boots and jumper from this year’s Coastal collection. I like the functionality of them, but they work well for me as they’re stylish, in a simple no-nonsense way that I’m comfortable with. I wear my boots when out exploring, and the jumper doubles up as my cosy chill clothing when I get a bit nippy in the studio.
Find out how you can win an original illustration of your pooch by Jina Gelder in our latest Coastal competition.