Art is a gift to be received and shared and comes in many many forms. Paint, Cook, Travel, Poetry... you name it, if you're sharing creative energy, that's an Art. ~Steph

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Living Doll! Gina Gabriell

I’d like to introduce you to Gina Gabriell, Artist, Entrepreneur, Writer, Doll creator, and so much more. Gina owns a beautiful colorful Artful spot in Dublin, CA. She majored in Sculpture at The California College of Art and wrote a children’s book called Pink Sky. You can find her art in her shop ‘Tangerine’ and recently her dolls were featured in Art Doll Quarterly.

  Hi Gina, How are you today? What have you been up to lately?

I am actually terrific, the weather is absolutely beautiful! The Big Trees in front of Tangerine are full of little white blossoms and the petals are falling everywhere, it looks like snow on a sunny day, I love spring.

So let’s talk about your shop. Your shop is full of Art much of it created by you. What motivated you to open a shop?

My daughter Stevie and I always talked about opening a cute little shop full of odd, cute and yummy things. She had an eye for things that made you want to squeal… We talked and talked about it and after she died in April of 2007 I decided it was up to me to make it happen. A friend of mine had a little bit of space to sublet and after a few nights sleeping on it I signed on the dotted line. I have no retail experience and I didn’t have a business plan I just borrowed my daughters ideas, my husband’s credit card and crossed my fingers. This store has a life of its own, it attracts the people who are meant to be here and it fills me up, my daughter would have loved it.
What was the experience like when you could sit back and realize that you had accomplished opening your own shop?

I am not sure it has sunk in yet. People will ask what I do and I usually say “I’m an artist, and a mom, and I when I grow up I might be a rock star” Now I say “Oh I own a little shop in town” and it feels like I am talking about someone else (I still wanna be a Rock Star).

Were you as creative as a young child? What kinds of creative things do you remember doing?

I think some people are just born this way…I ate crayons (just the red ones) drew little pictures on everything including the wall under my bed, I made dolls out of yarn, I drew cartoons of the kids in my class in the margins of my school work, decorated everyone’s PeeChee folder in fifth grade, made my own punk rock t-shirts, and made horrible costumes for my little brother.

You wrote a children’s book, ‘Pink Sky’. What is it about? Will there be more of them?

After my daughter died I felt like the best parts of me did too. Art was something I just didn’t think I could or would ever do again. My brother (also an artist) came over one day to help me clean my studio out, we went down to the bare bones, I threw everything away or donated it. He told me I would make art again and this would be a fresh start when I was ready. Several weeks later I woke up with a book in my head. I locked myself in my studio for five days to write and illustrate it, just for me.

The book is about a little girl who begins as an idea and who begins again as idea realized. The book has been donated to families who need help opening a dialog about what it means to have cancer and not get better. The truth is that too many children will die from this disease and they have to know that death is not an ending and it isn’t failure, it is a process. There is more than one way to survive, sometimes that means without a body.

It’s serious and sad but it’s real. People who need the book find me and the first 500 copies were donated by a local group of artists (ZNE) who had an art auction to raise money for a Memorial, the book became the memorial. The books have been donated to oncology clinics, Hospice, and hospital/organizations that treat children with cancer.

That’s beautiful Gina. What is your favorite ‘Act of Art’?

Pink Sky.

What are some of the different creative things you do?

There isn’t much left I haven’t done. At the moment I am working on a graphic novel that has been following me around for a while. I run the store, make some happies now and then to share with my shoppers, teach classes, and enjoy meeting all kinds of artists.

You also teach. What types of workshops do you hold? Are you having a lot of fun with them?

Oh there are too many to list, you will just have to go to the Tangerine website and see for yourself! I am working on a few video workshops that I hope to have completed by fall.

I love working with other creative souls…it always feels like having family over.

Where do you get inspiration?

Just being who I am and living fully in my experiences. It is never dull, not always pretty, but there is always beauty to be found in between all the everyday stuff. My daughter to this day inspires me every day, not sure how she manages it from where ever she is now but I wake up smelling fruit and flowers and thinking about playing in the studio.

My mother always told me I should never leave the house without clean underwear I tell my kids you should never leave home without a sketchbook. You are more likely to be hit by inspiration than a bus.

LOL I love that!

You recently had your Dolls published. It must be so exciting being published. Where can they be seen?

I was published in Art Doll Quarterly, and yes it was fun. It didn’t seem real until I was in a bookstore and picked up a copy and there I was!

What is the motivation behind these unique handmade creations? They are very detailed, whimsical and dressed!

I think doll making is left over kid energy. I like to create little worlds that I fit in to, working without a plan or an agenda is real freedom. I make these little girls and they remind me of cousins, my daughters and myself, they are sweet but in an honest way.

Any fun thoughts, news you would like to share?

Make Art = Be Happy

Thank you for a wonderfully candid and fun interview Gina. Your Artful spirit is a treasure and an inspiration.

You can find out more about Gina and her shop by visiting Tangerine

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Stephanie Jordan, Diviacity

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