I'm Grace Ann Ekström, from Stockholm, Sweden.
How long have you been drawing or illustrating?
I started a daily drawing practice in the summer of 2017 to improve my skills in drawing icons and logos for my graphic design work. But then something magic happened; I completely fell in love with illustrating and sketching.
When did you feel like you discovered your style? How did it happen?
It's challenging to pinpoint when that happened as I started out drawing only with ink & paper. Then in 2018, I received an iPad Pro for Christmas, which was a game-changer for me. Oh my gosh! I love my iPad Pro 🤩. At that point, I moved entirely away from my ink drawings and focused primarily on digital art, though I still use a sketchbook for sketching out initial ideas. I think finding my style happened through my daily practice of drawing every day. I've also participated in some drawing challenges that forced me to narrow down both a color palette and topic. Honestly, though, I feel like I'm still discovering my style 😅
How can you describe your style?
I would describe my style as bold, colorful & whimsical with a clean aesthetic and a sense of playfulness and humor.
Who or what inspires you to illustrate? Music? Books? Please list.
I am inspired by the world around me - nature, architecture, art, etc.; anything I see. I'm always on the lookout for inspiration. I studied art history at university, so I have a keen eye for detail, and I often notice small details that other people might miss. For instance, I might see a shelf in an antique shop and become inspired by the worn metal boxes and variety of colors all jumbled together, or the flowers at our summer cottage might give me an idea for a pattern. I also keep a "creative ideas" list on my phone's notes app, so if I'm out somewhere, I'll jot down an idea that comes to me for exploration later when I have my sketchbook or iPad.
Describe your creative process in several steps.
Hmmm, I may have partially answered this already, but I often begin with a simple sketch or several simple sketches in my sketchbook. Then I take a photo and import it to my iPad. I usually already have a color palette in mind, but I'll start playing with some color combinations if I don't. I have several palettes saved in my iPad and one in particular that I usually stick to because I love the bold, vibrant pops of color. Then I start to redraw the sketch in color, and I am careful to use different layers so that I can change and play around with the colors more easily later.
Which tools do you use to illustrate? Which one do you use the most?
I use a sketchbook called "Sot," made in Sweden and sold at Pen Store. My favorite pen is the Pilot V5 Hi-Tecpoint 0.5 in black. I never draw in pencil. I know that's weird, but my thought process is that with ink, you really have to be deliberate with each line, and it also forces me to be more creative if I make a mistake. Sometimes a drawing can be saved, but sometimes I have to start over. Haha. My other tool is my iPad Pro and Apple Pencil. I use this as my primary drawing tool these days. It streamlines your work and workflow.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Listen to your intuition always. It always guides you in the right direction. I had a roundabout path to illustration. I began with a professional dance career and then hung up my dance shoes to join the professional world. I worked as an administrative assistant in both creative and non-creative fields until I decided to spend most of my time doing something creative. That started with even classes for graphic design fun and then returned to school to study digital content design. And I honestly wouldn't change anything from that path. The different roles and jobs I've had through the years have added to my attitude on life and my style as an illustrator & designer.
How do you see yourself in the future?
I hope to work primarily as an illustrator and brand designer, and I would love to have my work contribute to a social cause. I'm still working on why this would be, but I am very interested in women's health and Women's rights.
How can others find your work or connect with you?
You can find my work and connect with me in my IG gaekstrom