If you're a regular reader of my blog you probably know by now that I have a soft spot for illustration. Proof no. 1, proof no. 2. I still can't draw anything myself though, but I love getting lost among bazillions of carefully drawn illustrations on the interwebs, praying to holy mother of Art that such skills would magically pass over into my system. We're gonna talk about an Israeli illustrator today who completely blew my mind with her perfect techniques and frame of mind. Geffen Refaeli is a freelance illustrator from Tel Aviv, who is currently taking over the Instagram with her Daily Doodlegram project, where she posts little mischievous drawings every day. The whimsical illustrations have attracted over 58.000 fans already and the counter is still rolling. She graduated from the Bezalel academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem and has been working as a freelance illustrator ever since. I love the versatility of her style - from soft and dreamy to impudent, harsh, and modernistic. I also love the fact that she's all about furry animals and genuinely nice people. I am too. Basically we could be besties. Geffen, we should hang out and talk about our cats forever.
What was the first thing you thought about this morning?
This morning… Mmm… This morning I actually thought about how great it is that it's finally starting to get cold and I could wear a big sweater!
When did you decide to pursue art as a profession? What were you doing before?
I never did! I was just doing what I always did, drawing and complaining and daydreaming - and somehow found myself doing it for a living more or less.
What might you be doing if you weren’t making art?
I would love to work with animals. I volunteered at a birds rescue centre this summer and it was amazing. If I wasn't so lazy when I was younger and had more of a plan, maybe I would try and study veterinary medicine. I would still draw and paint though.
What is your workspace like, what tools and materials are you using?
For the past 2 years I've been in a small studio which I built in a room on the building's roof. It's pretty great because it's in the city, it's pretty quiet, it's private and high above the roofs, and it's all mine. Before that I worked from home, and it was always very hard and suffocating to work in the same space where you live, sleep and eat. It's a very unproductive feeling. I really need to get out of the house and move a bit and enter into a different space to work - otherwise I end up spending all day looking at stupid things online. Since I have this little studio I can look at stupid shit on the internet only 80% of the time :)! As far as the tools and material goes… In the past 2 years I used mostly black Indian ink and some other ink colours. Usually I draw with pens, nibs and thin brushers. Before that I used to work a lot with water colours. I also have a ton of old encyclopedias lying around that I collect from the street and cut photos from to work with them later.
Where do you get inspiration?
Stories, other people's stories, my stories, dreams, words, old photographs, strange moments, new encounters, people on the streets, people concentrated on their work, crafts, old people, memories, sidewalks, leafs, lights and shades, small objects.
Do you sometimes get stuck when illustrating a particular scene or character? How do you move past such obstacles?
I usually give up quickly, watch the Kardashians and then hate myself for it. But sometimes I take some time off from it, go outside and look at things for a while and think about it, and then try again.
Do you carefully predefine your pieces, or do you make changes to the designs as you work?
I never plan a lot beforehand - I usually think about things or write down ideas in words, and then try and make a few pencil sketches. Then I move forward to ink. Things either start to work out and make sense along the way and transform into something good, or I throw it away and try something different! I was never able to have enough patience to work on the same scene or idea more than a couple of times if it's not coming together and working out organically. I always prefer to try something new than to work on a particular illustration over and over again.
Where did you get the idea for your Dailydoodlegram project?
Where most ideas come from - nowhere.
What is your relationship with the web?
How would you describe the life of an artist living and working in Tel Aviv?
That's such a big question I don't know how to even start answering it. I can only speak for myself and I never really considered myself an artist. Life in Israel is complicated and ambivalent in general - living in the very modern and lively Tel Aviv can be a bit of a surreal existence in that aspect. But in general I would say that it can be nice for most of the time, also hard, with a rather rough aesthetic. It's friendly, small, familiar, moving, but never changing.
If your home was on fire, which three things would you save?
A cat under each arm and my drawings. The fourth would be shoes.
Thanks so much for your time and answers, I really appreciate it!
You can follow Geffen for your daily dose of inspiration over on her Instagram Daily Doodlegram project or check out her Etsy shop where you'll find tons of illustrated goodies that will surely sooth your soul.