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In Conversation: Beau Gervais

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IN OUR WORDS

When it comes to social media, we are the first to shout about how much we are inspired by Instagram. We first came across artist Beau Gervais’ work through her account last year and her distinctive illustrations immediately appealed to us, both with their focus on the female body and the painterly style Beau has made her own. We love how she sees women and her ability to depict relationships, from those had with female friends to the one we have with ourselves. Plus, she has really great style. Part of the fabric of the young creative scene in our hometown of Brighton, we wanted to work with Beau to show off the best of where we live and at the end of last year commissioned her to make a series of festive hand drawn cards.

After graduating from the reputable Illustration course at the University of Brighton, Beau has beaten her own path with her hybrid approach to art and design. Her personal connection to the work is clear, with many illustrations portraying her own friends, beloved female family members and often herself, yet it remains universally appealing. Following the success of our last collaboration, her new collection for the store is a timely Valentine’s themed series, with eight neutral and pink toned bespoke illustrations, individually hand painted as prints and cards. With scenes of lovers, both romantic and platonic, Beau pretty much sums up our own thoughts on Valentine’s, that it is just about sharing a bit more love, no matter who with. 

IN HER WORDS

‘I’ve been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil, there are pictures of me ‘illustrating’ stories that I dictated to my mum who wrote them down for me at my request. I always knew I was artistic, and luckily so did my parents as they enrolled me with the Princes Drawing School (now the Royal Drawing School) where I studied for 6 years. Up until that point my work had been really based on my imagination but the years spent there really broadened my understanding of what it meant to be an artist, I remember the feeling of clarity when I realised that I could make my life out of it. 

I’d describe my work as simple and feminine. I’ve always been inspired by artists who were able to describe form through simplistic lines. I feel that with my work the minimalistic aesthetic leaves more space for interpretation of the subject; the uncomplicated compositions allow the viewer to focus solely on the form and the line, which I think at times gives a small respite in an overcomplicated and over saturated world.

I collect vintage art books which I often refer to when I’m in need of inspiration, some of my favourites include biographies on Barbara Hepworth, Man Ray, Gauguin, Matisse and Picasso. Each of those artists have a completely different take on form through materials and descriptive styles, yet they all have achieved this through a figurative simplicity. A few years ago I came across the work of Paloma Wool and their collaborative photographer Carlota Guerrero. I find that their visual language really explores the crossover between design and conceptual art - with a strong emphasis on the female gaze and experience. Seeing women be so creative and inclusive makes me want to work across more mediums, collaborate with more contemporaries and express my views and opinions through my work.’

GET TO KNOW BEAU

If you could lend one book you have read to us, what would it be?

John Berger’s ‘The Ways of Seeing’. His writing feels like he is articulating ideas and notions you have always been aware of yet never been able to put into words. 

What one thing can you always justify spending money on? 

Fresh flowers are one thing I still see as a luxury, but I often treat myself to, even if it’s a small bunch they brighten my home and make me feel like a semi-adult.

What record always makes you get up and dance?

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons ‘The Night’

Tell us the exhibition or show you’re most looking forward to this year.

The Frida Kahlo exhibition at the V&A. I’ve been excited about this for almost a year since it was announced, she’s a big inspiration and I’m totally in awe of her work and life so am keen to see how this is curated.

What or who do you believe in? 

I like to believe that things happen for a reason, whether or not that allows me to kick back and see what the future holds or to justify when difficult things happen, I like to hope that there’s some kind of plan.   

Words by Rebecca Field. Shop hand painted cards and prints from Beau Gervais in store only.