Interview with Illustrator, Helena Grimes

How did you get started doing what you do?
I have been drawing on any blank spaces and pages since I can remember. I always imagined I was drawing stories from my imagination. There was a good chance my family thought I was crazy at four years of age at the kitchen table talking to the pen and paper! I think I first became comfortable with calling myself and artist in my third year in college when I started to exhibit and sell some work.

How would you describe your creative style?
My work is focused on drawing and it is very illustrative in nature with fable-like qualities frequently emerging. I prefer the use of animals as subjects or symbols, yet the work is nearly always about people, human nature, or society. It’s a more innocent way of challenging the viewer. I am quite disciplined in my creative practice. I am addicted to mark making and can get completely lost in it. Creating details and lines is very satisfying. Drawing for me is about working out or expressing an idea in the most indulgent way possible.
Interview with Illustrator, Helena Grimes on Jung Katz
What’s your inspiration?
I gain inspiration from society, culture, books, myths, fairy tales, nature and, of course, life itself. An idea for a drawing can come from a chapter of a book or something subtle from a person’s behavior. I am constantly aware of all that is going on around me as well as internally. I like to combine these inspirations with strands of my imagination.

What is art to you?
Art to me is a gift. It has healing powers in creating it and absorbing it. There is something beautiful about knowing you are creating something that wasn’t there before. I love the idea that you can connect with or inspire something in someone consciously or subconsciously. There is also great responsibility with that. I love the idea that art can help a person through something, remind them of a person or a time, give them clarity, inspire them, and just cause them to stop for a moment. A moment of peace from our stressful, fast-paced and hectic lifestyles is a gift.
Interview with Illustrator, Helena Grimes on Jung Katz
What does your typical day look like?
I find it difficult to start. Every day that involves creating art must come with coffee! I often motivate myself through a scroll through Instagram or Pinterest early on. Emails are a great way to start and get bite-sized tasks out of the way. I then make lists. Any chores I try to leave for other days. I like to kind of ‘trap’ myself in-studio when I need to create, especially around deadlines. Going outside the door has too many distractions. I keep my sketchbook close to hand for quick thumbnails or jotting down ideas. Once get the flow of drawing going I get really enthralled in it. Everything melts away and it is a wonderful place to be. I am practicing more in slowing down and learning to walk away. Impatience can ruin a piece. I tend to try and update social media in the evenings frequently. Once the work is finished I feel very detached to it and can’t wait to share it. It is always interesting to see how different people react to my work especially when I have been staring at it for so long. I am definitely a better worker in the evenings and would happily spend hours into the night drawing only often I would have an early start the next day and getting enough sleep is the best food.

How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
I would say 7-10 sittings for a standard size piece of about 30 x 42 cm. A sitting for me can range from an hour to 3 hours at a time. My longest piece took me 3 months to complete. It was an accordion style artist book called Every Soul Has a Dark Forest that had about 5 images in it that flowed into each other. It really depends on size and the level of detail, and if I am brave enough to add in colour. Colour requires a whole extra set of planning but it can be a great way to take me out of my comfort zone.
Interview with Illustrator, Helena Grimes on Jung Katz
How do you keep motivated?
People around me keep me motivated. Encouragement from loved ones is what keeps me strong and working late at night. You go through so many emotions when creating art, it’s important to have a support network to remind you why you are doing what you are doing. You can lose sight of this when things aren’t going your way. Fear of failing and letting myself down is also a great motivator! Insanely talented creatives, open submissions and deadlines. I have an endless desire to tick-off lists.

What do you want others to take away from your work?
A question. Or, perhaps with better luck, maybe an answer.
Interview with Illustrator, Helena Grimes on Jung Katz
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
It’s all going to be okay and it’s going to get better. Keep drawing. Keep being weird. Keep smiling. Be there for others in the moment. It’s okay to make mistakes- in fact, you are not nearly making enough of them.

Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
Start yesterday. Practice is the key as is experimenting. Your style will constantly change so don’t stress about finding your style. Just make what you enjoy not what you think you should be making. Art has a lot of networking and business attached to it so be kind and helpful to anyone you meet along the battle that is building your career. It can be really difficult so you have to be passionate and driven. Or lucky!

What are your thoughts on art school?
Such a wonderful space to create, make mistakes and discover yourself. You may never be surrounded by so many peers who share your passions in the one place – but you might get lucky! It was some of the best and exciting years of my life! However, I don’t think you realize the value of Art College until you leave.  I would like if art college focused a bit more on the business side of things, how to apply for funding/grants, how to network, residencies, how to get your two feet on the ground, etc. It’s focused heavily on building a concept and exploring your practice, which is great, but not enough when graduates become so overwhelmed and lost that they don’t see a future in it. A module would be enough in the final year.
Interview with Illustrator, Helena Grimes on Jung Katz
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I would love to collaborate with a street artist someday. Get one of my animals or hybrids up on the side of a building for everyone to see. Bring it out from the gallery or studio space. That would be really cool. Currently, I am working on a new solo show in the near future. It’s something I don’t consider I have ever done properly. It will it be exciting to see will what I have in my head form on the pages or will it be completely different? That’s kind of the best part of the whole process.

What art supplies do you use?
My weapon of choice is, of course, my micron black archival pen 0.005. It gives delicious lines.

Follow Helena Grimes on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.


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