Blending her love of art, editorial and high fashion, Gemma Hewson, the London-based mixed-media artist behind VIS-UEL, creates work with the intent to evoke curiosity and emotion.
Having studied visual communication design, and worked in both the creative and fashion industries, Gemma relies on her experiences and impressions to influence her work where minimalist design aesthetics and high fashion photography meet in a digital collage medium. Gemma explains “Through a layered collage style, VIS-UEL explores the contrast between the simple beauty of the natural world, and the complexity of humanity, femininity and diversity”. Read on to get to know the up-and-coming visual artist.
Tell us about the concept behind VIS-UEL.
VIS-UEL started because I was looking for a creative outlet outside of my job (in the creative industry), where there were no rules or guidelines to follow. I also have a love for editorial and portrait photography, and at the time of starting my career, I wanted to develop my skills in photoshop.
The concept behind VIS-UEL is re-imagining something beautiful to create something new with it. I play with color and use a lot of floral and natural textures in my work – my hope is that the various layers will evoke different emotions in each individual, and connect with each person differently.
How would you define your style?
I would define the style of VIS-UEL as mixed media. I use various techniques to create my images, depending on the theme. My process is mostly digital, but I also often use cut and paste before taking the work into photoshop. Sometimes I’ll photograph a texture I see and that ends up becoming a layer. I just love the endless opportunities that digital provides, but there’s also something satisfying about making a cut and paste collage; placing everything together in a new form is cathartic, and the final product somehow feels more permanent.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I have a collection of favorite blogs that I frequent, and I have a moodboard on are.na under VIS-UEL that I constantly add to and visit every day to find inspiration. I look on the runways and the Instagrams of my favorite photographers, labels, galleries and people. The world is now full of beautiful content in all mediums. It’s almost an overload of information, but it makes inspiration easier to come by. Having said all that, sometimes I’ll see some flowers growing in the street that I like the look of – I’ll take a photograph and that becomes the basis of a work.
Are there certain colours, textures or other visual forms that influence your work?
I am a sucker for anything pink, neon, pastel and silver (metals). Which is so different to the way I dress. I am usually head-to-toe in black. But when it comes to artwork I love to play with colours and textures. I use a lot of imagery from nature like flowers and mountains, contrasted against industrial materials like metals.
What do your works represent?
My work represents an idea that colour and florals are not bound to one gender. That beauty is not just feminine. I love to construct a new meaning within a preexisting image.
How has working as an agency art director changed the way you create your own works?
As an art director within an agency, you hope to develop a style, but you’re also consistently working with brands that already have their own style. It’s always great when there is synergy between your ideas and the brand the ideas are for, but it’s not always the case. So VIS-UEL is a way for me to develop a style and for people to come directly to me for the way I create an image or would develop a campaign. For example, I recently worked with Fendi through my Instagram page. I created a series of artworks for their Nicki Minaj bag collection. This allowed me to work in the style I have created for VIS-UEL for a brand that I love, which is pretty cool!
What makes a great image?
For me, a great image is balanced. This doesn’t mean that it’s neat, symmetrical and perfect. Balance, when talking about art, is subjective. As is a great image. For me it just makes me feel a certain way. That’s how I know I appreciate what I’m looking at.
Have you got any new projects coming up?
I recently just finished art direction for a new Australian sustainable swimwear brand. I also have a couple of collaborations with some London and international photographers, which is exciting. Hopefully, there will be an exhibition at some stage this year (fingers crossed).