The Introvert Life with Gemma Correll

gemma correll, cartoonist,When we asked our Conners who they’d most like to see speak at a future con, Gemma Correll’s name came up more than once. We live to serve the craft community, and we made it happen!

Originally from England, Gemma is a writer, artist and cartoonist residing in Oakland, Calif., with her trusty pug sidekicks, Mr. Pickles and Bella. Gemma’s published works include The Worrier’s Guide to Life, The Feminist Activity Book and A Pug’s Guide to Etiquette, as well as her award-winning eponymous series of quirky, humorous greeting cards and gift products that are sold all over the world. Gemma is particularly well known for her comics about mental health in collaboration with charities including Mental Health America.

Gemma will be giving a keynote talk at Midwest Craft Con 2018 in Columbus, Ohio, but until then you can learn more about her below:

How would you describe your work to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

My work is narrative-based illustration with an emphasis on simple linework, humor in the form of wordplay … and pugs.

You are so huge on social media — how do you manage your big following and still get work done?

The things I post on social media are the things that I’d be making anyway. I spend as much time as I can on personal work — it only takes a couple of minutes to post.

Have you ever been to the Midwest before? Any thoughts, questions or concerns?

I have been to Lincoln, Neb., and Milwaukee, Wis. At first, I was very overwhelmed by the amount of space in the Midwest. I grew up in England and now live in the Bay Area in California — neither of which are known for being spacious. But I actually enjoy the feeling of freedom that comes with having more space and the more relaxed pace. I also find people in the Midwest to be very friendly. I’ve been to Louisville, Ky., a few times, and I know that’s technically the South, but it’s one of my favorite US cities.

What would you be if you weren’t an artist?

I’d be a teacher, a social worker or a psychologist, I think.

What will you talk about in your keynote?

I am planning to talk about where ideas come from, how to get through a creative block and then show you some photos of my pugs (because that’s what y’all really want to see!)

What three things would you recommend to makers?

Yoga (to help with posture and general mental health), animal companions and a good coffee maker.

What are your tips for introverts who are going to a conference?

Conferences can be a little overwhelming, especially if you’re an introvert but you feel like you have to be “on” all the time. I take frequent breaks — if I don’t, I get very tired and overstimulated. Just having a short walk outside to grab a coffee really helps.

What are you looking forward to most about Midwest Craft Con?

I find it really inspiring to be around like-minded people. I work at home by myself and it’s easy to get stuck in a rut. I really enjoy learning new crafts, too — especially when it’s just for fun (rather than for “work”). I’m also looking forward to visiting Columbus — I’ve heard good things about it, and there’s a tiki bar there that I’m dying to visit!

You can meet Gemma Correll at Midwest Craft Con in Columbus, Ohio! The event is Feb. 16-18, 2018, and early bird tickets are on sale now!


Featured Speaker: Yao Cheng

yao-chengWe’re excited that watercolor artist and designer Yao Cheng, one of our featured speakers at Midwest Craft Con 2017, doesn’t have to travel very far to speak at our creative business conference. That’s because Yao calls Columbus, Ohio, home!

Located in downtown Columbus, Yao Cheng Design is an online retail shop and design studio where Yao’s modern and bright watercolors come to life on products and clientele work. The retail side focuses on a range of products for the home, such as art prints, textiles and paper goods, while the design studio focuses on creating specialty wedding stationery and larger client projects. Let’s meet Yao!

How would you describe your work to someone who isn’t familiar with it?

I love combining my background of fine art with my loves for color, patterns and geometry, and translate them into various products ranging from art prints to home-decor textiles and wedding stationeries. My work is a modern interpretation of watercolor, and they tend to be very fluid and expressive, which is influenced from my experience with Chinese calligraphy.

What inspires you?

I find inspiration in a lot of different things. I’ve always loved geometry and nature, so the two combined is always fascinating to me. Color is also a big part of my inspiration board, I love collecting color palettes that have a sense of balance and complexity. Photography and calligraphy are other inspirations that push me to seek out images that are dramatic and emotional. I use my Pinterest boards pretty consistently for all of these different kinds of visuals.

What one thing in your life could you absolutely get rid of?

Going through airport security. I always find it to be an unnecessary stress for me and really ruins the flying experience!

What is your favorite thing about the Midwest?

How friendly and supportive the community is! Everyone here in Columbus have been really supportive and encouraging of me embarking on this path from the beginning. I really treasure the camaraderie. The mid-size creative community here is also something I value. I love that it is still small enough that everyone knows of everyone’s work, but big enough also that we have a real diversity! Outside of the creative community, I love the nature that we are surrounded by and the tempo of life feels very fitting for me.

What are your pro tips for people going to a creative conference?

It’s a time to enjoy soaking up all of the different types of creatives and ideas that are floating around! Chat, mingle and be curious about what others are doing, even if it’s totally different from what you do. I find that ideas will spark with my own work when I least expect it.

What would you be if you weren’t an artist?

I think a lot of different things, but in the order of realistic possibilities, probably a therapist, a pianist and an astronaut! I think it would be absolutely fascinating to travel out in space and see all of the spectacles of our planets.

What will you talk about in your keynote?

How to strike a balance between making products that are both artistically fulfilling but can also make a profit in terms on running a business.

What three things would you recommend to makers?

I would recommend Design Matters with Debbie Millman for a design podcast, connecting with local creatives in your community and to try something new every year (either in terms of business strategy or an ambitious project). I’ve learned that one of the biggest ways that I’ve grown as an entrepreneur and business owner is to take risks and try projects that I have no idea how to do but still feel really excited about!

You can meet Yao and many other creative entrepreneurs at Midwest Craft Con in February 2017 — tickets are on sale now!