“I just want to make funny and pretty pictures”: Gabriel Gabriel Garble on his refined approach to illustration
After making his debut on the site two years ago, the London-based illustrator has returned with a jam-packed, fun-filled portfolio.
- Ayla Angelos
- 26 May 2020
Gabriel Gabriel Garble’s very first memory involves drawing. He was three, in nursery school and all the boys were climbing the rambutan trees in the garden. Meanwhile, Gabriel stayed indoors with his coloured pencils and A4 paper. “When I was five, I was designing posters for my neighbourhood’s bulletin board in PowerPoint,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Two decades later and nothing much has changed; my husband is out playing his flutes in the woods and I’m indoors animating my film.”
Now, the London-based creator has excelled in his medium and works extensively across illustration and animation, fuelled by his decision to study photorealistic 3D VFX – a course that meant he had to do 3D “the proper way” and unlearn the skills he’d developed on his own. We last heard from the illustrator in late 2018, having launched his short film Vacuum – winner of the Best Animated Short Film award at Venice Film Week that year. Returning back to our screens, we’re seeing a whole host of new and exciting projects added to his portfolio, including commissions for Brut and Support magazine, plus a newly launched campaign with Everpress, titled Doggo vs. Telephone.
Delectably digital, each piece comes littered with neon hues and intricate line details. Using an interchangeable process that varies with each project, he tells us that, although the medium “is the message”, it’s a changeable style that resonates more – even if he appears to be adhering to one particular style of late. “I used to only work meticulously with intent and justification,” he adds. “Every project had to be uniquely different in style and substance, as dictated by whatever narrative I was working with.” This is evident in one of his unfinished films, whereby the protagonist’s mouth is “always active in nuance”. Twitching, smacking, chewing gum or biting nails, Gabriel describes this as an attribution to the fact that the character is a 3D trans-human who had no mother and, consequently, “had oral fixation because they were not breastfed (speaking in terms of Freudian psychoanalysis)”. This is just a sheer example of the ways in which he used to work, building on a detailed theme and dismissing projects that were conceptually basic.
“Fast-forward to now,” he continues, “and I just want to make funny and pretty pictures with colourful lines.” A realisation came to fruition after noticing how life can be simple and, “regardless of how underprivileged you are”, you should just live it. As for his particular aesthetic – the flashy line work, specifically – he tells us it spawned from a desire to capture the unseen “vibrations” of the world and how they unknowingly react with one another. Somewhat ambiguous, really, but the main takeaway is that he wants his audience to make up their own mind about what it is that he’s illustrating.
Most recently, he’s been focusing more on the intersection between animation and illustration. Although finding the processes similar, Gabriel explains how there’s always a moment of experimentation that can be reached through the merging of both mediums. In Doggo vs. Telephone, he had to “deep-fry-meme-ify” his own illustration work. As for 3+1 Dogs & A Frisbee, he experimented with fractals to create the grass, animating these fractals in order to simulate grass in the wind. “There seems to be something bigger than what I’m building towards, and every work gets me closer and closer, or further depending on how you want to look at it.”
Circling back to his Doggo vs Telephone piece with Everpress, Gabriel explains how the design is a depiction of an “incautious” dog owner who is engaged in a phone call, accompanied by a dog whose coat is being stepped on. The project originally began as a textile pattern experiment, which later developed into a “fragmented” narrative that’s held together by the shirt. “On the front, a flare-eyed triggered dog is seen running away with the handset in its mouth, cord chewed and broken (this is then duplicated to form the shape of a paw),” he says, continuing to describe the scene. “I think what was fun about it was that I’m telling a story with incomplete bits and dropping hints about the tone – the viewer has to spend some time putting those bits together, and when they do they will be rewarded.”
This narrative-led and interactive approach is imperative to the work that Gabriel now puts out into the world. As a whole, he hopes to involve the audience and to create work with participation at the core, “because it demands you to be present, and what can be more peaceful than that?”
GalleryGabriel Gabriel Garble
About the Author
Ayla is a London-based freelance writer, editor and consultant specialising in art, photography, design and culture. After joining It’s Nice That in 2017 as editorial assistant, she became online editor in 2022 and continues to work with us on a freelance basis. She has written for i-D, Dazed, AnOther, WePresent, Port, Elephant and more, and she is also the managing editor of design magazine Anima.