Spotlight: Gerti Saaler

My first interview here is with one truly talented designer – Gerti Saaler. I had the pleasure of working with her for few years and I have to tell you, she has A LOT of great ideas. I mean it! Whenever we had to do some brainstorming, she came to the meeting prepared with so many awesome ideas. And she is the type of designer who really pushes herself during the projects, she is honest when she feels like something is still not right or finished and she pushes herself so much to deliver the very best. All of the examples of her works here are notebook covers for popular Estonian Formula Notebook.

I haven’t seen Gerti in a while, but have been in contact with her and as my previous post already showed you, have asked her to do some personal projects for myself (fingerprint poster, my wedding invitations etc). So let’s see what she has been up to lately.

Gerti, how old are you and where are you from?

I’m 27 years old and I’m from Estonia.

When was the first time you thought about art like “Hey, this is cool. I should keep doing this”?

Probably when I was 13 and started practicing seriously, drawing from reference and trying to get things to look right. There’s something very cool about realising you want to make things from your brain.

What can you tell us about your studying of Media and Advertisement Design in Tartu Art College and how has it inspired your current body of work?

I don’t know if “inspired” is the right word here since I think of my education as mostly technical. It was more about being given tools and taught how to use them. It’s been very useful for my day-to-day job. As for illustration, I had general painting and drawing classes for three years that helped me with anatomy, color and light. I quite miss painting with actual paint sometimes.

You have a very versatile style, tell me what mediums do you usually use and what are your favorites?

Nowadays I work 95% digitally. My favorite way to draw is on my iPad using an app called Procreate. On the computer, I use Photoshop and my trusty Intuos4. I do still keep a sketchbook in my drawer for whenever I want to work out an idea or composition on paper, but I don’t really draw for the sake of drawing.

Tell us a bit about your creative process?

I get an idea in my head and try to sketch it out first. If it doesn’t look like what I’m thinking of, I try again. Rinse, repeat. If it seems like I can’t make it work from imagination, I look for reference and work from there. When I’m given a brief by someone else, for a commission or editorial illustration, it’s firstly about solving the problem, setting up the composition, and then choosing a style and so on.

What’s the most difficult aspect of creating art?

Finishing things.

What are your biggest inspirations – whatever they may be?

Even though it probably doesn’t come across in my work, I love dark, horror-esque surrealism; my favorite painters are Francis Bacon and Edvard Munch. Lately I’m really into comic book artists like Tula Lotay, Kevin Wada, Phil Noto and Jock.
I think the great thing about inspiration is that it can come from anywhere. I look at nature photos a lot for color palettes, or movies to think about composition and lighting.

How do you feel social websites such as Instagram are influencing art?

I think there’s a bigger onus on the artists to promote themselves than before, since social media is accessible to everyone, so there’s really no excuse not to do it. But there are so many platforms, and the upkeep can take a toll on the time and energy you have left to work on your actual art. The downside of everyone being on social media is that everyone is on social media, and it’s hard to stand out. Cultivating an audience is important, but also difficult.
As for instagram specifically, I think it’s one of the less useful places to post since the only user interaction is to “like” it, compared to Tumblr or Twitter or Facebook where you can actually share the post. Models like Patreon are pretty interesting, though. I think that system made a lot of creators happy when it started out.

Do you have any book suggestions from art or simply inspirational field?

To be honest, I’ve neglected books and reading, since they require so much unfocused attention that I don’t think I’m even capable of anymore (unfortunate side-effect of the internet). My favorite educational/inspirational medium is actually the video essay, especially on the subject of filmmaking. Even though I draw static images, I think there’s a lot to learn from filmmakers, as they are storytellers above all. My favorite channels that I heartily recommend are:

What are some words of wisdom for aspiring artists?

Talent is utterly overrated, it’s the hard work that counts and actually gets you to places. Practice is paramount!

Instagram: grrti


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