meet the illustrator: gemma driessen

writer: emma ranne
picture: emma ranne

Gemma Driessen -

I'm super excited to introduce you to my lovely childhood friend Gemma. We go way way back and used to race on our bicycles around the Dutch medows while referring to ourselves as Gem'n'Em (yes, that was our team name).

These days Gemma is a super talented illustrator, who studies industrial design in Holland and who's always ready for a little adventure.  Without further talking, let's get you more familiar with this girl behind June's calendar illustration.

Hi Gemma, can you please shortly introduce yourself to our readers?

Alright! I am a 21-year-old integrated product design student. I love making things, especially cute things: I draw, paint and make ceramics. I am passionate about sustainability, and I want to work in that field after graduating. I am a vegan and live with my boyfriend in the Netherlands. I love bouldering (climbing) and I am super proud of my arm muscles  haha, as a person who always hated sports being strong is very new to me. 


We know you draw a lot. Can you tell us the story of how you got into drawing?

As a kid, I always drew a lot, but I got more serious about it during my first year at uni. I started a daily drawing project, I had a sketchbook and my goal was to fill one page every day until it was full. The goal was to fill the page and it did not matter if it was pretty, or if I spent a lot of time on it, as long as there was something on the page. I loved the process and my progress during this book so much that I started another one after that, and another one, and another one. That was the start of me drawing (almost) every day for the last 3 years.


Usually, one of the hardest things when it comes to anything creative is to find time and inspiration. What would your tips be for overcoming this?

We can't change how much time we have in a day, so if you want to spend more time drawing you should do less of something else, this could be watching less Netflix or scrolling social media less. But maybe you don't have any time you can easily make free in that case you could try to combine it with another activity, like drawing during lunch break or train commute. But sometimes it is also okay to accept that it is just not a priority for you, so you should not feel too bad about it. 

If you really want to do it regularly I suggest picking a time or couple it to another activity you do every day. For example, you always draw after dinner, during lunch, when you get home etc.  I used to do it before going to bed as a nice way to unwind. Maybe it works best for you to find accountability, by post every day on Instagram for example. Also make it as easy as possible to start, have your materials accessible, have them at a place you often are so you don't have to put more effort than necessary in getting started. 

when it comes to inspiration, I'd say just draw something, don't go scrolling on your phone for inspiration that is a waste of precious drawing time. As Andy J Pizza says: "Creativity is like Breastfeeding: the More Your Pump, the More it Flows!" haha. I often get inspired by things I drew before. Combine some things you like drawing or enjoy in real life. Draw about things that make you feel good whether that is cats, tea, yoga or feminism. And don't be too harsh on yourself, if you don't like the drawing you made, just make a better one tomorrow. And never compare your work to others.


What important lessons have you learned during the past 12 months?

I thought hard about it and these two came to mind:

  1. You can make/do almost anything you want, just google or find a video explaining how it is done. I learned to cut my own hair, make a puppet for stop-motion animation, replace a part of my shower that was broken and so much more just by watching 10-minute videos. 
  2. You have time, I listened to an interview with Lisa Congdon recently about her new book about older women starting new careers and becoming successful. We still have so much time ahead of us, the path you choose now does not have to be the path you will be on for the rest of your life, so don't worry too much about whether you are making the right decisions.


And what is inspiring you lately?

Lately, I have been super into pottery, I make planters, cups and vases with happy faces on them and I love it so much! I have been putting them for sale in my Etsy shop and I actually sold one!,  to someone in the UK and I am really happy about it!


What would your theme song be?

I have been enjoying old songs lately, it's really hard to choose but if I have to pick something maybe Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys?


And my favourite question to ask people: what are 3 of those little random things that give you joy?

  • Sunshine
  • the smell of cinnamon
  • the leaves on the trees (I missed them so much in winter)


Check out Gemma's Instagram and website to see her work. Her drawings are the cutest! Also there are still a few ceramic pots left in her Etsy shop, shop one while you can.