Since her first post back in April 2020, Slime Artist Gabriella Anouk has swiftly become a TikTok sensation, amassing 400K+ followers and millions of views on the video-based social media platform.
At 27 years old, she is one of the first and most influential young British artists to have rocketed to fame on the app after sharing her artistic journey and unique behind-the-scenes process.
From slime drenched peaches to artichokes and avocados, Gabriella adds a sensual new twist to some of life’s most ordinary objects, creating fascinating and meticulously hand-drawn art, some of which take her over 100 hours to complete.
Gabriella has since consolidated a career as a self-made artist and businesswoman, demonstrating how bringing fine art to a platform such as TikTok can help engage young audiences with fine art techniques and showcase a new empowered model of producing, sharing and owning artwork.
Having recently launched her first hyperrealism ‘Slime Series’ – a seven-piece collection of her hand-drawn works, we caught up with her to find out more about the fascinating world of slime. You simply won’t believe it’s not paint.
On a scale of HB to Prisma, how is 2022 treating you so far, ha!?
Love the way you worded this! 2022 has been Caran D’ache level so far! It has been incredible. I’m still buzzing from the launch party of The Slime Series last month, and have just released these on my website too, so it’s been a very busy and exciting start to the year!
A slime artist sounds like the coolest job title in the world. The idea first came to you in lockdown, tell us about how you got into it and why TikTok felt like the perfect platform to share your work with the world?
It was around this time last year when I started to feel dissatisfied with my art practice and felt like I needed a change. So I started to experiment with dipping my household objects in paint and dripping them in slime, photographing them hundreds of times and then drawing them. I shared it all on TikTok. TikTok to me is an exciting ‘candid’ style video based platform in which I can openly share my artworks without overcomplicating things. Because of lockdown, it was my only real connection to the outside world. So I started to share my entire process, from start to finish and people seemed to really engage with it, more than I had ever experienced on platforms like Instagram and Facebook before. It opened up a whole new world for me.
What is it about working with slime specifically that inspires you?
The texture – I love how shiny and synthetic it is! I also like slime because of the way it can entirely change, manipulate and turn an average, everyday object into something unique and sculpture-like. It’s different every time you use it and that uncertainty is so appealing to me. I started off using paint, dripping and submerging objects in it. However, I found paint to be quite limiting because once you dip something in paint you can’t reverse it. Slime was appealing to me because of how versatile it is. You can drip it onto an object, peel it off, and repeat as many times as you like. Another reason I use slime is because it is so unnatural. It has been such a unique material to work with.
Congratulations on your Slime Series exhibition! You’ve achieved so much in such a short space of time. What’s been your biggest learning so far both on a personal and professional /business level?
Thank you! My biggest learning so far would probably be to not be so afraid of trying something new. Before The Slime Series I was mainly working on commission based pieces and lost my own ‘artistic voice’. The Slime Series was so different and scary to me but I’m so glad I went for it. From a business level my main learning so far is to surround yourself with people you 100% trust and together you can make great things happen.
How instrumental has TikTok been for giving you a platform to showcase your work and reach new audiences?
Hugely. TikTok in particular has a very high engagement rate. Some of my videos have upwards of 30,000 comments with one video reaching over 17 million views. This kind of engagement is incredible and the feedback is hugely encouraging for me and has become a driving force in my practice sparking my creativity in unusual ways. Quid pro quo!
Disruption, chaos, attraction, revulsion and physicality are important themes throughout your work, can you tell us more about that and the essence of your hyperrealism works?
As my drawings are so controlled and take a really long time, it’s important to me that the actual subject I’m drawing is disrupted in some sort of way. The juxtaposition of a beautiful, natural piece of fruit against synthetic, almost vulgar, shiny slime is so attractive and interesting. I take a lot of inspiration from Dali’s work and his absurdism. I find it fascinating. I’ve always loved his absurd and surreal style, creating bizarre images of the mundane and everyday naturally gives these paradoxes. I also love to explore the role of light and reflection on the subject, to capture that subtle interaction of light on the surface is so vital in creating a piece which looks hyperrealistic.
Tough question but out of the seven-piece work in progress Slime Series, do you have a favourite child…
Actually, that’s a super easy one for me! It’s the first piece in the series Avocado Dali. It kind of saved me from a bit of a dark place and was the catalyst to The Slime Series. I owe that piece so much and I don’t think I’ll ever let it go.
Some of your projects take 100+ hours, how do your hands handle it? I think I got a blister from writing in pencil for an hour once.
Haha, I do get blisters but my fingers have sort of morphed and hardened in certain places so blisters don’t happen too often but I do get this weird cramp all up my forearm and my leaning elbow is in a bad way at the moment!
What’s the longest you’ve ever spent on anyone drawing?
200 hours. Pomegranate Amour, the last drawing in the Slime Series.. I also had COVID half way through it so decided to quarantine for the ten days in my studio and draw. Which worked out quite well! That’s a pretty special piece to me.
Emojis are often a point of reference for your drawing. If you could create an emoji, what would it be?
A pomegranate!! Why there isn’t one already I don’t know. It’s such a cool fruit and has so much symbolism about love.
You often ask your followers what they’d like to see you dipping in slime next, what’s your most popular request?
Ooh tough one!! Bananas were a very popular request so I did that but some of my favourite ones have been carrot, beetroot and cherries. I think if I ever were to revisit the Slime Series I’d draw one of those three.
Talk us through your creative process and technique – you create art that looks like slime using pencils and only pencils? Make it make sense haha, I’m mind blown!
I like working three dimensional to start with, really getting to know my subject from all angles, photographing and filming the process as I go. And then I use colouring pencils, no solvent or blending tools to draw it. I use a technique in which I layer pencil colour on top of pencil colour very gently until it builds up a rich colour. It’s very time consuming but a very satisfying process. I think I like the challenge of creating something using one tool – or I just like to make life difficult for myself.. who knows!
Pink crops up in your work a fair amount. Do you have a favourite colour to work with and why?
Good eye, yes pink is my favourite colour. It just speaks to me and I’m so drawn to it (pardon the pun!). It’s a very sexy yet sensual and sweet colour. Be prepared for more pink in the next series, that’s all I’m saying!
What’s on your vision board for 2022, what’s next for you?
Showcase the Slime Series in different parts of the world. Work on a couple of exciting commissions, NFTs and of course start my next series!
What’s your best advice for any aspiring artists out there?
Go for it and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Mistakes are the best way you will ever learn to master a new craft. I wish I had learnt that sooner.
If you were to guess, just how many pencil shavings are in your office at the end of a working day?
Ooooh.. this is tough!! My pencil sharpener turns the shavings into dust so I would say maybe a glass full of pencil shaving dust?!
One thing everyone assumes about you is…
I really have no idea! But one thing people usually assume of my pieces is that they were created using paint.
Who inspires you?
This changes all the time but for The Slime Series, Dali was a huge inspiration.
Is artist’s block a thing? What do you do on those days when you’re just not feeling creatively inspired to pick up your pencils?
Artist block is definitely a thing, yes! I struggled with it quite badly just before starting The Slime Series.. My best advice for this is 1. to go ahead and create some really ugly art. Set out to make the ugliest drawing you’ve ever drawn. It helps get rid of the negative energy and frees up space for fresh new art.. I hope that makes sense. 2. Another way to get rid of artist’s block is to do something out of your comfort zone. For example, if you’re a colouring pencil artist, try using paint or charcoal and just go crazy with it. That usually helps me! 3. And lastly, take yourself out of ‘your space’, go for a walk, go to the kitchen and bake or see your friends. Just do something entirely different and ‘non-art-related’.
Describe your work in 3 words. Go!
Colourful, sensual, risky!
Which celebrity home would you most like to see your artwork hanging in and why?
I love Anthony Hopkins. I think I would just die if he even saw my work. Although, I think Peachy should probably belong to Kim Kardashian…
And finally, what’s been the proudest moment of your career so far?
Probably The Slime Series Exhibition that just happened in London… That was epic.