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ginger taylor makes retro illustrations her business

Going full-time freelance is super-scary for any creative, but it’s a decision that’s paid off for Melbourne-based illustrator Ginger Taylor. Having started off as a signwriter for a retail chain, Ginger now spends her days painting murals and designing kickass merch. If you love Dolly Parton and nice typography, you’ll definitely dig Ginger’s style.
Hi Ginger! Tell us a bit about yourself.  I’m 30 years old and I live in Melbourne with my chihuahua Toast. I grew up all over the shop: in Sydney, San Francisco, Dublin and Adelaide. I love to skate (roller skating usually, but these days it’s more skateboarding) and could live in a diner. Diners and weird motels are my favourite things. That about sums me up.

How did you become a professional illustrator and mural artist? I began my art path about five years ago when I worked at JB Hi-Fi as a signwriter (my job was to paint and draw all the signs and tickets for a few stores in Sydney’s CBD). I loved it because I could draw cartoons and practice my typography at the same time, and I eventually knew I wanted to be creative 24/7. So, I started selling art on the side and made an Instagram page, which kind of blew up over the next few years. I started doing small sign-writing jobs in pubs and later got hired for murals when people began recognising my work. Then I branched out and bought an ipad to do digital work, and fell in love with that, too.What’s a regular day in the studio like for you? It usually consists of me rolling around on the floor, playing with my dog Toast for half an hour before I get stuck into it. I have a coffee and go over any emails or jobs I need to finish up. Then I work on whatever is a priority, whether that’s painting a jacket, doing digital commissions, ordering merch, designing new merch, running around getting prints printed or picking up stock. It’s different every day, which is why I’m certain I could never do another job, ‘cause this one fits perfectly with my ADHD and attention span.

What’s your illustration process like? I’ve always liked the feeling of 2B on paper, so it starts like that every time. I have a lot of sketchbooks and journals – they’re what my brain would look like on a page. After that, I take it to the easel or go digital and basically just fill in the blanks and refine the illustration. It usually ends up looking completely different to the initial sketch because I just go with whatever my brain comes up with along the way.What inspires your illustrations and designs?  I feel like I’m constantly inspired. I used to think travelling and seeing new things played the biggest part, but since being in lockdown for all of 2020, I’ve learnt that I can find inspiration almost anywhere, which is a relief. My inspiration usually starts with Dolly Parton, something funny I saw (or something that annoyed me), or it could be as simple as reading a Playboy magazine and wanting to paint all the girls. I’ve always been inspired by women. I just think they’re so beautiful and smart.

How did you go about finding your aesthetic? It was a long process. Even to this day I have moments of “What is my style?!” but then I talk to my friends and they remind me I’m being paranoid. So I just trust they're telling the truth.

What have been your favourite projects to work on? I got to do an animation for Lily Allen once – my inner 15-year-old loved that. I’ve also worked for some pretty cool brands like VANS, Young Henrys and Harley-Davidson, which is always fun. But as far as the most fun I’ve had working on a project, it’s got to be my favourite mural, which I did on the rooftop of a recording studio in Mexico City. I get a real kick out of the fact that my work is in Mexico! It’s wild!

There are quite a few knick-knacks in your studio. Do you collect anything? I collect tiny things – I love everyday objects in miniature form. I just died over this Instagram account called MCM Revival, which sells tiny handmade mid-century objects. I also collect matchbooks from diners, but I try to keep all my collecting under control, otherwise I become a bit of a hoarder. 

What’s your favourite part of your studio? I love my glitter station ‘cause you know, glitter. But honestly I just really love my desk. My happy place is sitting at my desk with a cup of black coffee and Toast asleep on his desk-bed (which is a fluffy white cushion), while it’s raining outside and Billie Holiday is playing. That is actual heaven to me.
How did you find working on the MSI laptop? I loved it! I noticed it was-super fast and easy to use. I actually was working on it as a laptop for a day or so before I realised I could fold it over like a notebook and use it as a drawing pad! I wish I filmed my reaction because I was so impressed, I squealed a bit. I also like how lightweight the pen is and that there are buttons on the pen that do different things while you’re drawing so you don’t have to select tools manually – that was damn neat. 

Do you have any advice for people who want to make art and illustration their business? I always tell people to quit their jobs and go full-time freelance. It was the best thing I ever did. If you’re even a little bit good and you work hard, it can only get better – your art can only get better. I hate the way my art looked when I first started. I see pictures and think, “How did I ever make this business happen with that art!” but people loved it even if I didn’t. So do it, take a risk and jump in the deep end! If it doesn’t work out, you can always get another job. At least you'll have tried!

See more from Ginger on Instagram or her website.

MSI's new Summit E13 Flip is designed for creative types like you. Its touch screen can be folded and turned into a drawing pad, and it even comes with a nifty smart pen. Pretty cool, eh? For more, head to au.msi.com.