‘Robert Downey Jnr’ from Portraits by Gemma Duffill. ‘I began this painting as a challenge to myself to paint realism, I enjoyed the experience so much it has become an ongoing art challenge for me.’ (Digital Painting in Photoshop) Artwork courtesy of Gemma Duffill.

Artist Watch

The Artist

Gemma Duffill (continued)

‘I’d absolutely love to do more children’s books. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is as long as it’s fun.’


‘By the end of 2011 I had had enough of unsuccessfully looking for work and decided to do a diploma of graphic design (I did not want to do another three years of study). I finished this in June 2013 and landed my first studio job in October 2013. I’m now working part-time as a graphic designer and doing freelance as well.


‘Being a freelancer came about from the lack of steady employment in illustration – it had been something I’d been willing to do if the opportunity arose ever since I started studying at Griffith The work began to trickle in slowly, and then became steadier as time went on.   

‘My first freelance illustration jobs were caricatures for clients who had found me through the yellow pages. My first big job was a children’s book for Pearson Education. Pearson found me on the Illustrators Australia website. They sent me an email asking if I was interested in illustrating one of their children’s books and naturally I jumped at the chance. I’d absolutely love to do more children’s books. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter is as long as it’s fun.

‘As a freelance I’ve done personal illustration commissions, an animated proposal video, a wall mural and logo design, t-shirt illustrations and a children’s colouring book. I get all kinds of commissions. My clients are mostly Australian clients and I’ve had a lot of startup businesses contact me to draw them mascots.

‘One job that gave me great pleasure was designing a set of three large pull-up banners for Easy Mix Cement to use at a trade show – they lined the walls of their booth with them. Through the graphic designer working on the project I was given a brief in which I was asked to emulate a “pop-art” style and to create the artwork in illustrator in a vector format. I drew a sketch, which was approved by the client, after which I went ahead and drew it up in illustrator, sent it back to the client for approval and then finalised the artwork.

‘For those don’t know, Illustrator is a vector-based artwork program by Adobe. The benefit of vector artwork is that the artwork is computed mathematically instead of with pixels, which allows the artwork to be shrunk or blown up indefinitely without losing image quality. I’m not certain how the final product for this job was printed; that was handled by the designer that hired me, but I did enjoy the challenge of working in a pop art style.

‘I was also commissioned by Sub-Zero, a frozen yogurt shop, to create a logo design and a series of wall illustrations in an anime style for their new store in Cabramatta, Sydney. I didn’t create the mural in the shop. The illustrations were drawn initially in Photoshop, following which they were rendered fully in Illustrator. I then sent the artwork to a shop that prints on wallpaper and the people fitting out the store installed the wallpaper. The end result looked fantastic.’

Which artists and illustrators have inspired you most throughout your life?

‘I was and am a fan of Dali. I loved the obvious skill that went into his work but also a level of imagination that I could not hope to accomplish. I find Surrealism fascinating. I also adored the Renaissance through to the Romantic period of art for the sheer beauty and skill. I could, and still can, stare at those paintings for hours. They’re such an inspiration for modern art forms such as photography and film.

‘I admire many artists for different reasons, including a lot of comic book artists such as Adam Hughes for his gorgeous women and art nouveau-like feel and Kevin Mcguire, Emanuela Lupacchino and Amanda Connor for their facial expressions and humour they inject into their work. I adore Pascal Campion for his incredibly beautiful use of colour and lighting to create scenes and stories. There are also hundreds of lesser known artists on the internet that I admire – there is an incredibly talented community of artists online.

Where do you see your career going in the future? Do you have anything that you would particularly like to accomplish?

‘I’m still living on the Gold Coast. At the moment it’s still just somewhere for me to sleep, but I do have a little corner set aside for my desk, computer and my cintiq (a screen you can draw on) that is my refuge within the house. It’s also a little bit of a mess. Unfortunately, it’s more fun making the mess than cleaning it up.

‘I promote myself mostly online, with my personal web pages and with listings on other sites. I find my internet traffic comes from google searches and redirected traffic from some of my listings.

‘In terms of work, I take it as it comes and find enjoyment in whatever I can. Personally I enjoy playing as well as exploring with my art, whether it’s with a new medium or with a different style or subject. I don’t get bored with one kind of artwork but I do get excited about new kinds and I just have to try them. You can see this in my portfolio – I just love trying out new styles.

‘I started watching anime in the mid 2000’s. It took me a while to get used to the unique visual cues that anime and manga use but eventually it won me over. I started drawing chibi characters after being exposed to them on the internet. Chibi is related to anime/manga. It’s sort of slang for “short person” or “small child” in Japanese. The cartoon and fan communities online have a particular joy for them. Although I wouldn't call my style anime/manga I do enjoy drawing cute versions of characters.

‘A style that fascinates me a lot at the moment and which I’m playing with, is the naive style of cartooning and illustration. This is a style similar to that of Quentin Blake who illustrated the Roald Dahl books. It’s a style that isn’t as restricted as much as others and it has a beautiful looseness and childlike quality. It’s currently a challenge for me – but I’m enjoying working on it.’


More Gemma...P.3 




‘Cutiepus’ from Digital Art by Gemma Duffill. ‘Cutiepus looking for children to play with.’ (Hand drawn digitally and coloured in Corel Painter) Artwork courtesy of Gemma Duffill.