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Idealog's Most Creative: Artist Gina Kiel talks creativity

Gina Kiel was one of the People's Choice winners for Most Creative in art/photography for Idealog and Accenture's Most Creative People. Kiel’s bright, bold and beautiful abstract illustrative art has struck a chord, with her work featuring on everything from the new Mac’s Sweet Disposition beer to the garage doors of trendy production houses to a Fat Freddy’s Drop album cover to a bespoke Audi. Here, she talks where her best ideas come from, the secret to success and what gets her up in the morning. 

What does creativity mean to you?

Anything and everything, a reason to get up in the morning or not to sleep at night.

What do you think it is about your nature/habits/interests that makes you creative?

I’m not sure, it just is, I don’t know any different way of being. My mind is in a world of multiple visuals at any given moment…and some make their way out through the vortex onto a wall, onto paper, or into pixels.

What first drew you to your chosen field?

To be honest, I resisted it as a career at first, but it was inevitable, it’s what I spent most of my time doing, and so I think that drew it to me.

What was your upbringing like, and how do you think that led you to where you are today?

I grew up in a very creative family. My home was a band room and everyone was singing in harmony and playing instruments all the time. My parents let me draw on the walls, my Dad collected every single drawing I ever did. I have them in boxes and I have no idea what to do with them…

Where do your best ideas come from?

Thin air…or like blood from a stone…I never know which it’s going to be.

What does inspiration look like for you?

Like a giant hand reaching out from me to grab something and pull it back in for processing, or like I’m just walking along and get struck by sudden lightning.

Is there an ethos/motto you abide by in your work?

Do my absolute best, be patient, accepting, be mindful of the planet and kind to others and stand my ground when needed.

If there were a secret to success, what would it be?

Refined prolificness…

[Creativity is] anything and everything, a reason to get up in the morning or not to sleep at night.

What were some of the challenges that you faced early on? What went wrong? Any regrets?

Staying within a visual ‘style’ was always a challenging area for me. I am learning to channel my style to the most authentic expression but I’m restless for creative adventure so I often try new things within reach of my style. If something different pulls me strongly enough, though, I’ll just have to take a sharp turn or a gradual evolution into it, art is expression of experience and as we change our expression through art changes too. No regrets, everything happens for a reason and for learning, especially mistakes. I have learnt over time that I only want to to work on projects that align with what is best for the planet, once you know something you can’t un-know it.

What’s the secret to resilience?

You are the strong central pillar of your own universe.

What have been some of the highlights of your career?

They happen daily, I love working with and meeting people, and most recently having my toe in the door to the world of murals is a major highlight. But honestly just being able to do what I do as a career is a highlight on top of a highlight…and things like this People’s Choice vote is super cool!

What do you think New Zealand is like for creativity? Is there something about ‘Kiwiness’ that helps or hinders?

Not necessarily, I think creativity is universal and people are inspired by their culture and environment wherever they are.

What would be the advice you’d give someone who wants to turn their creative passion into a full-time gig?

Practice, experimentation, aspiration, have a vision for where you’d like to be and be prolific, discover your individual voice, be reliable, share your best work, and you will get noticed.

What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned?

To trust myself.

Where to next? Do you have a goal you’re working towards?

Yes! To paint bigger walls, to do more tattoos, to channel my creativity towards helping sustainable businesses, and educate and mentor younger artists so they can do this too.

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