NL Q and A with illustrator Genevieve Simms
Illustrator Genevieve Simms created our wonderful Spring issue cover (on stands now!) She based her illustration on polaroids of members of Portugese fleets visiting St. John’s.
Genevieve is from St John’s. She headed west to study at the Alberta College of Art and Design, later studying architecture at the University of Toronto. She now lives in Toronto with her husband Josh and her dog Jack. She also works at Lateral Office, an experimental design practice that operates at the intersection of architecture, landscape, and urbanism.
She has illustrated many interesting projects, from a Canada Post stamp series about pets, to a series of cover illustrations for new editions of great Canadian books published by Anansi.
How did you learn to do what you do?
I was always interested in drawing, painting and making things in general. I formalized my education by attending the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Design. After graduating I started taking illustration jobs for magazines and newspapers and eventually those commissions expanded into book covers and even postage stamps.
What are the elements of book cover design?
Engaging with the story coming up with an image that will invite others to do the same is probably key.
What are your professional goals?
I think I’m less goal oriented professionally and I think for me it’s more about finding ways to keep myself excited and challenged about the work that I do. I recently completed my Master’s in Architecture and I feel like that is more part of my continuous desire to learn and express that learning through design and making.
Which artists – not necessarily visual – have influenced you?
At the moment I am pretty interested in the work of Pieter Bruegel the elder. I have been reading an interesting study about his technique (Scientia Artis 8: The Brueg[H]el Phenomenon). I also love to read fiction that has a strong sense of place. I have been reading some of Michael Crummey’s work lately, and of course they (the books) do that sense of time and place thing very well!
Which artists – not necessarily visual – do you feel are underrated?
Probably most of them! I wish artists of all kinds were more supported and appreciated by society in general …
What do you do for fun?
Reading, walking my dog, cooking, pretty basic!
What’s your favourite place?
My family is scattered around the country now. Many of them living in rural or relatively isolated locations (St John’s included). I spent most of my youth trying to get to bigger and bigger cities to pursue education, work etc, but I have come to appreciate the specialness that you get from being somewhere that is more off the beaten track. I feel lucky that I have family to come home to in Newfoundland or northern Alberta or BC because I wouldn’t get to experience those places in the same way if I didn’t have people to come home to.
What’s your favourite place to work?
I think it is more about where my tools are. I have had my studio at home for a while now out of convenience and cost. I don’t need much but have a setup with a computer, cintiq, and a small space to do my painting and drawing.
Do you have a work routine?
Not really. I pretty just work when the work needs to get done! I do insist on eating breakfast and enjoying a coffee before I get to business!
What scares you about your work?
In my early years out of art school I used to be worried that I would stop or give it up because I would have to get a job doing something else or wouldn’t be able to make a living etc. But now I’m not really worried about it and I think I’ll always be working on some project or another to keep me going whether it’s for myself or something else!