One To Watch: Gemma Milly

3rd November 2010
I am always on the lookout and love discovering new talent, I find it inspiring and admire the work of these young dedicated individuals. It is for this reason that I am starting  my new series ‘One To Watch’ where I will interview and showcase works from my favourite up and coming designers/artists. 

To kick start the series is the lovely Gemma Milly, a freelance artist and illustrator based in London. She likes to take a traditional approach to her work, creating her images by hand usually with pen, pencil, ink and watercolour amongst other things, and digitally enhancing them on the computer. Her images are wonderfully vibrant and very stylish too!

Here are a few questions that Gemma kindly took the time to answer.
When did you realise you had a passion for art?
My mum always jokes that as a little girl, the first thing I asked for when I could speak was some paper and crayons. One of my earliest and happiest memories was spending hours sitting with my dad making pictures out of squiggles. Ever since then I’ve always be passionate about art, there’s nothing like a trip to the V&A or snuggling up on a cold day with a mug of tea, some good music and my trusty old sketchbook.  
Where do your inspirations come from?
I’m a bit of a dreamer so often my inspiration comes from seeing the beauty in things that other people don’t notice. For example, recently my brother was decorating his kitchen and behind the layers of old tiles and paper, we found some original 1970s wallpaper in gorgeous lilacs and teals. It would look stunning as wrapping paper or as a print on a cute little tea set, so that’s one of my next projects. Also, as I specialise in fashion illustration, I adore things like vintage buttons, sensuous fabrics and textiles, fashion photography and the female form itself. The body is an amazing thing; it’s like a blank canvas for whatever an artist can dream up. 
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I’ve only been focusing solely on Illustration for the last couple of years, having left a career in Advertising behind me to pursue my dream. In that time, I think one of the most exciting and positive things to happen to me was getting involved with Amelia’s Magazine and becoming a regular contributing illustrator. Over the past year I’ve illustrated two London Fashion Weeks, which was hard work but I loved every second, as well as illustrating articles on anything from ‘yarnbombing’ to the Elephant Parade in London. I love working with Amelia – I did a Skype interview for her last week and can honestly say she’s one the nicest people I’ve met – and it’s definitely got my work out there.  
What do you hope to achieve in 5 years time?
I’m quite an ambitious person and also have a significant addiction to pretty shoes, so I intend to work my socks off over the next few years to make sure I can feed this addiction! One of my plans is to start up a collective with two fellow artist friends. By combining our graphic design and illustration expertise I think we could have a much wider reach than working separately. We all have a similar vision in terms of style and the type of projects we’d like to work on, so I think it’s something that could work really well.

What famous artist do you admire/inspires you the most?
That’s a difficult question, there are so many! Can I have a few? I would say Elsa Schiaparelli for bringing a sense of humour and touch of surrealism to the world of fashion, Degas for the ethereal quality of his paintings that so beautifully capture the moment and Rene Gruau for his amazing use of colour and composition – looking at one of his illustrations is like biting into the most perfect pistachio macaron from Ladurée. 
What words would you use to describe yourself?
Imaginative, creative, impulsive, style-obsessed! 
What 5 things couldn’t you live with out?
Firstly, all my friends, family & boyfriend, I’m a real social butterfly and family girl. Secondly, my vast collection of Benefit make-up (heaven forbid I parted from it!). Then I think my silly sense of humour, good music, and Lavazza coffee. 

A big thank you to the lovely Gemma Milly who answered these questions in such detail and really provided an insight into her beautiful world. I totally agree with her in regards to feeding that shoe addiction 🙂 Best of luck!


  1. Carole

    3rd November 2010 at 1:18 pm

    Nice work Ari. Gemma's work is lovely and will be on my radar from now on. x

  2. Marina

    4th November 2010 at 12:53 pm

    Great illustrations … thanks for sharing Arianna.
    I just discovered your blog from the KLC website (as I am a student) and saw you won the 'best newcomer' blogger … congratulations!!

    I've been blogging for just over a year now and it can be very time consuming (especially when you should be focusing on a project) … but totally addictive!
    I have become a follower and love your blog.

  3. Arianna

    4th November 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Thanks Carole and lovley to meet you Marina! So happy you like my blog and yes it is rather addictive! Hope your enjoying KLC have some very fond memories from there 🙂

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