Illustrator Peony Gent has just graduated from Edinburgh College of Art and already has delivered a clutch of commissions for the likes of The Skinny and Impulse Magazine and has exhibited many times in Scotland. “Illustration always seemed like quite a natural place for me to gravitate to. I like the versatility of illustration: its ability to be as brash or as subtle, or as emotive or as informative, as the illustrator chooses,” she says.
During her time at ECA, Peony found that the studio culture helped her develop ideas and style – developing collaborative skills that will serve her well as she leaves higher education. “We became very close knit as a group and the idea of the next couple years working alone with no people around to constantly annoy and ask for help on illustration pieces is pretty saddening,” she says. “My work would be incredibly different were it not for the dialogue we have in the studio, and it’s something I’ll really miss.”
Peony’s versatile style translates effortlessly whether it’s used for observational sketches, poetic landscapes or irreverent and subversive cartoons. Her portfolio includes some great designs for book covers, simple and evocative publications about beginnings and endings and moody, brooding risograph prints. ““Rather than planning meticulously I much prefer to just doodle and thumbnail until I reach something that feels right, often taking compositions or ideas from previous sketchbook pages,” she says. “Stylistically my work has developed a lot since my first year, becoming looser and more experimental in terms of line and form. It’s actually the content of my personal work that’s really evolved the most. Particularly in my fourth year I’ve found myself becoming a lot more open and honest in terms of what I make, using my own words and narratives more and more.”
With forays into ceramics and experiments with photography, Peony is constantly looking for new ways to tell stories. “Working with clay has also been a really nice side project alongside these more complex narrative pieces. There’s not really much deeper meaning to the ceramics if I’m honest, sometimes it’s just nice to enjoy the act of making objects that are purely aesthetically pleasing, or enjoy writing stupid things on them,” she explains. “Actually one of my favourite experiences from my degree show this year was watching strangers laugh at some plate designs I did with daft sentences written on them.”
Peony plans to remain in Edinburgh for the time being and aims to follow a career as an illustrator. “In terms of my personal practice I’m very keen to expand further into ceramics and develop a proper range of designs, and I’ve also got plans for a fair few more narrative zines,” she says. “In the longer term I’d ideally love to work on producing a full book of collected short comics and illustrated poetry when I get enough time to.”
G . F Smith
It’s Nice That’s Graduates 2016 is kindly supported by G . F Smith, whose gorgeous range of papers and services can be just the thing for new and soon-to-be creative grads. The 130-year-old paper company has a long history of working with designers and artists at all stages of their careers, with its high-quality and innovative paper products offering a huge range of creative possibilities.