I’ve always been a fan of Gillian’s art and while putting this story together I became even more enthusiastic about her work. While scrolling through her Instagram account (art_by_gillian) I caught myself saying - “Oooooh! This is my favorite,” - only to scroll down to the next photo and say, “Never mind. THIS is my favorite.
Gillian’s style is impossible to pin down. Sometimes her art is intricate and layered, while other times a few precise lines say it all. She uses bold in-your-face colors, and she also embraces a black-and-white palette. Some of her work is whimsical, with an almost comic book quality to it, but much of her art is firmly rooted in reality. And perhaps this diversity is why I am so drawn to Gillian’s work.
She is expressing all the varied and beautiful sides of herself, allowing only her creativity to dictate what her next piece should be.
16-year-old Gillian is no doubt a talented and driven artist. She’s also a committed dancer who takes multiple classes a week and is in the pre-professional company at the studio where she studies. Gillian benefits from expressing herself through dance and her artwork in different ways.
“When I draw or paint, I get to see my work as a finished product. I am able to directly see my effect on my creation with every brushstroke,” said Gillian. “In dance, I have the ability to be a part of the work myself, but not to step away and see what I have created. In both, however, I have the ability to work through whatever I need to and let the world melt away as the only focus becomes the piece I am creating."
She continues: “In art, I love being able to bring a blank canvas to life. I enjoy the freedom of looking at an empty page and knowing that anything could grow from it. Being able to work with my hands to create something that is unique to everyone else's work is a wonderful way to lose myself and forget the world."
“Similarly, I love being able to create something beautiful with my body to entertain and inspire others. When I dance with other people there are moments when we are so in sync that the feeling of being a singular person melts away.”
“I love pushing my body to its limits and exploring what I can achieve when I do. This is partially why aerial silks and acrobatics are some of my favorite styles of dance. Dancing off of the ground is an indescribable feeling. Whether being held up by another person, or by the fabrics of the silks, it feels like the limitations of the earth and gravity fall away and I am completely free.”
Gillian dreams of weaving her love for dance and art into her future.
“I would love to design fashion or work in visual arts as well as be part of a modern dance or circus arts company -
Being involved in dance and art has shaped my identity. If someone asks me who I am, dancer and artist are the first two things I say. More than impacting my life, dance and art have shaped almost everything about my life.
But Gillian doesn’t have to wait to have a career in the arts. She is already sharing her art with the world both on stage as well as online.
“I actually started putting my art on Instagram as a way to keep progress of my works for myself. I never thought that I would end up with as many people following me and my work! The support that I have received from everyone there was unexpected, but wonderful and very encouraging."
“I started out drawing whoever asked to be drawn. I never expected so many people to actually want me to draw them. But as more and more people asked, I realized that I couldn’t keep up with all of the requests. So I decided to start charging for commissions. I just recently opened a store on Etsy. Currently, I have only commissions listed because that was what was most asked for, but I would really like to expand my shop to showcase prints of my other pieces, as well as possibly phone cases. I would love to make enough through selling my artwork to travel internationally with my dance studio. It's also my goal to start putting money aside for summer art classes.”
Gillian’s work inspires me, and her work ethic is certainly something to admire, so I was curious about who and what inspires her. Here is her answer:
“In both art and dance, I draw inspiration from my family as well as the people in my life. I don’t believe that people need to be famous or well-known to be someone who should be looked up to. Both my father and grandfather are accomplished visual artists and they inspire me. My family and friends are unconditionally supportive of whatever I do. In dance, many of the teachers I work with are also huge sources of inspiration.”
How you can support Gillian:
Show her some love in the comments section below! Which of her art pieces do you love most?