RAPID FIRE: IBOU GUEYE
We spoke with illustrator, Ibou Gueye about his freelance creative practice. He shares his sources of inspiration and reveals his plans for the next year. Read on to find out more about Ibou and his work!
You can enjoy more of Ibou Gueye’s work in Pictoria Volume.1, The Best Contemporary Illustrators Worldwide.
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Ibou and I (also) do illustration.
How would you describe your work?
I have yet to come up with an answer that is neither (too) pretentious nor terribly boring. I guess … there is often an ironic or humours element. And things can be a bit tacky. I mainly work with(in) abstract spaces and morphed proportions. They riff off the perspective and anatomical techniques you get taught at school, but rarely make realistic sceneries. I do not care much for naturalism in my work – even though I can appreciate it. I like clear, simple lines; patterns; organic shapes; old paintings and classic sculptures; vintage photos and expressive gazes. I like distinct colour palettes and hues that are a bit odd; working monochrome and weird matching of elements. I am interested in relationships, meaning and messaging.
How do you go about creating your artwork? Do you prefer to work digitally or with traditional media?
Most of my (paid) work is bits and pieces for magazines. Usually, time and budget limitations, as well as a need for spontaneous changes, make digital the preferred technique – and drawing on paper or analogue collaging the welcomed changes. When I was a kid, almost all my »work« was monochrome drawings with pens and pencils. This kind of style, I circle back to quite regularly – may that be on a scrappy paper or with a graphic-tablet. I like to experiment; mixing analogue drawing with digital elements; collaging with sketching; pens, pencils and markers … And I enjoy, but rarely, paint. People say I have a certain style, I don’t really see it. I feel I am still poking around in a lot of different corners.
What are you working on at the moment?
I wrapped up a lot of work right with the ending of 2018. So, I am going into the new year pretty much without a plan. There is a graphic design job for a tiny music festival. (Which also will include some bold illustrative elements.) I am just starting to get into graphic design again, so I am quite happy about this job. I never thought I would make most of my money with illustration work — my education was fairly broad — but then I just slid into it. Illustration is nice, but it can not be the only thing I do, longterm. … Presumably, there will be a couple of commissions from regular clients too. Other than that, I have the exciting task of working out some interesting new projects.
Who or what are the top five inspirations for your work?
Really nothing in particular. If anything, I am issue-driven – in the sense of topic as much as problem. Is the topic interesting, I will come up with something good. Is it a little less interest, or boring even, you just have to work a bit harder — expand on the topic, experiment, question … Inspirational blogs, design platforms and all that oversaturate me quite easily. Of course, sometimes you stumble over a nice piece of work and you think: Oh, I could try to push a little bit into this direction with my next work or dabble with that new style and see what that does for me. But I think what influences my body of work more are all the different things I pick up in my everyday life — un/concisely: How your friends work, things in a museum, a movie, public discourse. I believe, being fed up with a stream of glossy, perfect images; being unhappy with how my last job turned out; or wondering how I could represent a certain section of society better in my work has a more profound impact on my practice than sitting down on a Sunday and research the biggest trends in illustration for 2019. Inevitably, I will just come to the conclusion that there are 5000 people out there who are better than me, plus they already created everything we ever needed and more. In addition to that, I am a terrible fanboy. There is a bunch of people I appreciate, but it is not a distinct and/or consistent group.
What's one resource every artist, illustrator or designer should know about?
Yourself. No, honestly.
What is the most valuable lesson you've learned during your time working in the creative industries?
The fear that everybody would be so much more professional and well organised than yourself was fairly unwarranted.
What is the hardest challenge you have faced in your career, and how did you overcome it?
It feels like I just took a couple of baby steps so far. I think, the big dramas are still ahead. No rushing into those though.
What are your professional goals for the next year?
Not losing sight of a certain collaboration project with a good friend. Continue raising my hourly rate. Saying »no« to some commissions.