Inspiration: You Are What You Keep

Gail Anderson

Former Rolling Stone art director, Gail Anderson explains how projects she did for herself influenced her work later on as a creative. Five things inspire her: Illustration, Obsession, Nostalgia, Magazines, and Celebrities.

Illustration. Gail has many illustrations of herself and others that all bring out different qualities. She often uses these to inform her later work. Illustrated books she read as a child made her want to illustrate, to do what these other people were doing.

Obsession. One of the most interesting things she collects are various obsessions. For example, she began filling her school notebook covers with tiny, very complex images and words. As a designer, she used this idea and what she learned about form to make very complex covers and story designs at Rolling Stone.

She also goes through phases of collecting things like salt and pepper shakers and bottle caps. Often, she will use these as literal points of inspiration for her work. Her Type Designers Club annual featured many bottle caps from her collection and a magazine cover she did utilized a large letter she had in her collection.

Nostalgia. As stated before, she gains inspiration from many of her childhood books and records, especially the ones with illustrations on them.

Celebrities, especially Michael Jackson. She made scrapbooks as a child of the Jackson Five and of course Michael Jackson. She would lay out cut out photos and write her own captions and headlines. This scrapbooking helped teach her about layout and the relationships between objects on the page.

My Reaction

Although entertaining and containing interesting slides, Gail Anderson’s presentation did not seem to connect as well to the audience. Was she stating that we should all start collections of stuff? How specifically can we gain inspiration from our collections or other items? The others may have other opinions, but I left feeling like I’d seen something neat, what drives one particular accomplished person, but found little in terms of practical application to my job.

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