Giving Your Right Brain a Regular Workout

Featured Artist: Redbubble Resident Giovanna Gaetano

Illustrator Giovanna Gaetano, who is known as freshinkstain is one of the three Artists in Residence at our Melbourne office. Giovanna’s designs focus on elegant simplicity combined with complex portraits of women. Giovanna is an incredibly dedicated self-taught artist with an emphasis on authentically communicating her passions and interests in visual language. Be sure to visit her shop to find products featuring her amazing work.

Redbubble Resident Artist Giovanna Gaetano (freshinkstain)

Where do you draw inspiration from?

I just follow the flow of my mind. I try to explain feelings and thoughts with visual language. Inspiration could come into your mind anytime, without permission. I think that for me it comes from something touching, something that could be representative of who I am and what I love most. It’s all about my own sensibility in that specific moment, so I can really realize something important, or just lose the opportunity to do it. Certain books and movies have influenced my vision of life and also my production. Some of the books I loved most are Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, Walden: or, Life in the Woods by Henry David Thoreau, and A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earth-bound Travels in the Far East by Tiziano Terzani. Movies that have influenced me are Cloud Atlas by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud.

What materials do you use?

Pencils, pens, markers, sketches, photos, scanner, printer, the bamboo tablet, and my laptop. As a digital artist I don’t need too much stuff. But I also love to experiment sometimes with brushes and acrylics or with the masking tape and the cutter. I love to choose the right kind of paper for my prints, paper is my second favorite thing after bread.

What’s your creative process like?

Everything always begins from an idea that makes sense. I don’t like to make a new artwork just to do something new to add to my portfolio. It should always have a meaning for me. In the past I’ve done some artwork just for fun (and I’m sure that I’ll do it in the future as well), but I can say that the final result has not the same quality of an artwork with an actual message in it, it can be aesthetically good but not satisfying.

Usually I start from a quick sketch and then redraw and fix it in Illustrator, or I simply use photos, or a collage of different images, and utilize them as a base to draw on. Vector images are very easy to edit, basically you can rearrange every single point of the drawing, I can spend several hours just to shape all the lines in the way that I want. I’m obsessed with linework

But the fun part comes always when I have to choose the colors. I like solid and saturated pastel colors, and most of the time I don’t use shading or special effects because I don’t like them. I apply this policy for the strokes as well. Just clean, plain lines. That’s why I love to have the black-and-white version of my artworks. There you can see the true essence of them. I want everything to be as simple as possible, just the way I am. I think that life is easier than we often think it is, and that’s why my artworks are very simple. This is a concept that you can always find in my works.

freshinkstain's workspace at Redbubble's Melbourne HQ

Where do you draw inspiration from to make emotive portraits of people?

I think that these portraits could be a description of my own emotions, and, in a larger scale, of human feelings as well.
They are based on my own experiences, on what I’ve learned from life, and what I try to do is share through an image, a message. Mainly in these latest works I do like to associate some natural elements that can be a key, a symbol of the emotion that I want to show. I believe that there’s a strong connection between the way how the nature functions and human feelings. Lately I aim attention at human behaviors, they really fascinate me because they tell more about people than what they say.

Do you see any of your artworks as self-portraits, or expressions of self?

I do, but it’s not like a closed self celebration, but a way to comunicate and open up. I’m a shy person, so for me it’s easier to express myself in this way rather than words (it’s also so hard to describe my work in English!). Art is for me like another language, and regardless of the language you speak, it can be understood by anyone who has the right sensibility to read between the lines.

freshinkstain's workspace at Redbubble's Melbourne HQ

You said you’re trying to turn feelings into visual language – what feelings are you trying to express?

I always try to put a positive message in what I do. The feelings that I want to express are the feelings that make people just true, pure and happy. People are always ready to notice defects and complain about that, I want to do the opposite thing and show the best part of human beings. We are beautiful creatures! Self-awareness, ability to enjoy the little things, coherency, genuineness, humility, brotherhood, consciousness, integrity, truth. On these values I would like to build my art and my life.

How does nature or the natural environment play a part in your artwork?

As I said before, I use natural elements as a metaphor. For example in the work called “Pay attention” that is about listening and communication, the ivy is an allegory of the time, of a very deep and intimate connection between two people.

In the work “Serendipity” the daises in the hair of the girl are a symbol of the joy that little and simple things can bring us if we only had the ability to become enthusiastic and overtake the boring routine of everyday life. In the work “Imperturbabile,” the rain that has always been an annoying thing, become a cuddle and a caress for the girl standing in the middle of it.

How do you keep your own artworks authentic? 

Being and believing in myself. Even when this means being not popular or commercial. I just do what I do because I love it and it makes me happy, not because I want to make money from it or compete. I’ve never thought that I would be an artist, I’m very self-critical, but now I know that as long as you have something pure and true to say you can have a voice and stand out.

"imperturbabile" Scarf

What advice would you give to other self-trained artists out there getting started?

Being a self-trained artist is fun, but requires a lot of time and perseverance. You have to practice and learn as much as you can in order to have a satisfying result. Don’t be afraid to have your own voice, to show your point of view. Make a deep search in yourself to find something crucial to work on. Experiment and try again until you find the most natural way for you to express yourself. You’ll never know who you can reach just telling who you really are. In any case you will learn more about yourself and about your art.

What’s a usual day in the studio like for you?

There are some more fertile periods and other less productive. But still I could not understand why it happens. When I’m in the good creative mood I can sit and work for hours and hours, even in the night time. When I’m not inspired I usually search for inspirations by reading a book, watching a movie, or listening to music. My brain needs to switch on different things in order to be constantly stimulated and to not get bored. I also do love to work with a music background, it helps me to concentrate and relax while I’m drawing.

"doodles" Laptop Sleeve

What’s been the highlight of the Redbubble Residency for you?

I think that every good and bad time until now has contributed to bring me at this point where I finally found a theme to work on for the Made in House exhibition. So, yes, the highlight was the moment that made me realize what I really wanted to do for the show. Being here has been for me the start of really focusing on my work. I always did it for fun, without thinking of building a consistent body of works. Now I realized that the way that most satisfy me is when I can tell a story, a little piece of me within an image. So I have to be grateful for this experience because I can say that I’m not afraid anymore to express myself in the way I love to do it.

What’s your favorite thing about Redbubble?

Redbubble is like a big family where everyone is treated equally. That’s why I like it. Working in the office has been very interesting and stimulating. Now I can know better how Redbubble works for artists and how artists can be useful for Redbubble. We have a lot to share and learn about each other.

Redbubble Resident Artist Giovanna Gaetano (freshinkstain)

Visit freshinkstain’s shop to purchase some products featuring her beautiful works.

See more Featured Artists