Tag Archives: Illustration

PAL-entine’s Day!

AKA. When Egos Run Wild.

I got it into my head that I invented the concept of Palentine’s Day.  Granted, it was an intentional play on Parks and Recreation’s “Galentine’s Day,” so I knew I wasn’t reinventing the wheel, however…  For a recent event I pitched the idea of PALentine’s: a celebration of friendship.  Turns out Urban Dictionary has listed this title as in-use since 2013, so I am not an originator. But I did make Palentine’s cards.  Here they are:

CandyHearts_solo Friendship_purp
I’ve been doing brush lettering ever since I took an excellent workshop with Ligatures YYZ this summer.  “Friendship” and “Love” are hand-lettered, and then hand-traced in Illustrator; the other words are typography.

I hope everyone celebrates their friendships this month as well as their romances. Happy Pal/Gal/Valentine’s day!

Process Work: Linda Mayer: Real Estate Agent

I personally like seeing process work from artists so hopefully I’m not the only one. About a year ago I made this logo Linda_Final.Transparent.WEB for (you guessed it) Linda Mayer, who was just finishing her Real Estate agent training (or whatever it’s called. A course? Boot camp? Transformation?).  I used to work exclusively with real estate agents so you’d think I’d know, and yet… Last month she emailed me for a full sized vector image of herself to use in her marketing materials. Here are the images from roughs, to linears (fancier roughs), to finals.
THE ROUGHS:  Linda wanted a standing pose, with a waving hand, and her adorable shih tzu Chili in the picture, but on a layer she could turn off and on.

Linda_Roughs4 Linda_Roughs3 Linda_Roughs2 Linda_Roughs1

I made them different colours so it would be easier for her to say things like “Give me the blue legs with the brown dog and the hand from the pink one,” rather than confusing language like “the first one vs the third one.”  Which is almost exactly what she asked for. The differences are pretty subtle, since we went in knowing pretty specifically what was wanted.


LindaCaricature_linear_2LindaCaricature_linear After the roughs, Linda requested a different arm option, also on another layer, with her holding the house from the original logo, as well as a smaller fluffier tail on Chili (who is starting to look a lot cuter and more shih tzu-y than in the roughs).  Linda didn’t mention the leash (I had it hanging down or wrapped around the arm in the green version above), so I made an executive choice to stick with the straight leash, especially if the house was going to be included periodically.
FINALS: Linda_Final_House_WEB-01Linda_Final_WaveDog_WEB-01 These were sent in and approved without changes!  I made Chili’s leash orange to tie the room together (and to give some definition between head and body – being all black, I didn’t want Chili to look like a silhouette.) I know I had a hand in picking them, but I love these colours. Redheads always look great in teal. See these images in action (the logo is there, and I imagine the figure will be coming soon) on her website LindaMayer.com.

Skinny Walrus Logo Redesign

I recently updated a logo for a friend’s theatre production company. The old logo, in my opinion, was due for a change.  I can say this because I made it. Like 15 years ago. It’s an especially humbling thing having to look back at your past work. My friend Brian (director of said company) still liked it (which is great), but for me, it was a lot like looking at your old haircuts or fashion choices; it’s hard not to be too critical, much more critical than you’d be of a friend.  We can all stand to be better friends to ourselves, you know?  So in the interests of not bashing my past self (she tried her best!), I’m going to post the before and after without a lot of critique of the past.

The before:


Boy, did I ever think this typeface was IT. Personality! Attitude! Quirkiness! These were the halcyon days of Homestar Runner, Ringer tees, Myspace. The wrist cuff was on it’s way out, but still lingering. We were basically living Book One of Scott Pilgrim. Quirkiness had yet to be dragged around the block by Zach Braff and Kiki D. (a.k.a. Kristen Dunst). It was still fresh. Was this even trendy, then? I have no idea. I have a keen eye for trends after they are firmly entrenched; a.k.a. I can see things when they are obvious. And sometimes before. Get your blanket statements here! 

Unrelated: The playlists Rookiemag.com puts out are PRISTINE. Unpredictable. Perfect. They keep me going. This one is playing my heartsong right now. Remember when I made a painting of Tavi Gevinson (teen editor of Rookiemag.com), blogged about it and she commented on this very blog?  IT HAPPENED.  An internet connection away from Stardom. RoyalTavi

So Brian (again, Skinny Walrus’s Big Cheese… or big Tusk if you prefer) had just asked me to update the existing logo to accommodate his podcast (listen to it!), but I took the chance to move away from the old typeface, which I felt had aged a bit, and to update the drawing…


which by all accounts is a lazy representation of a walrus, fun though it may have been at the time.  Skinny Walrus has grown up and Brian was down to let me make the update.

Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 7.07.52 PM

I wanted a little more gravitas without sacrificing fun, and this drawing I did of a walrus pleased me – Walrusy, with cute rolls, a little classic ridiculousness (a walrus has this inherently), mixed with the respect that is any large mammal’s birthright.  For the podcast: just add headphones.

Walrus_Square_WEB Typeface: Any first year design class will tell you not to throw out the baby with the bathwater in a rebrand. Brand capital! Don’t lose it!  Plus I didn’t want to sell out my old design for a few reasons: 1. I made it. (see the memorable “be a friend to yourself” diatribe above), and 2) Brian still liked it, so I didn’t want to toss whatever he had liked in the first place. Maintain the spirit, but refresh its hot bod.  I also wanted to bring a more professional vibe, and I needed it to go with the walrus drawing, so it still required personality. Walrus_Horiz2_WEBGILLIAN EXPOUNDS ON TYPE: Talking about type is inherently difficult – poetic descriptions are necessary to communicate the subtle variances, unless you happen to be a human computer that could speak in curves and angles and geometricities (coined it!). And even then, you always wind up asking, “How does the type FEEL?” Heavy, light, playful, meticulous, authoritative, flighty? Does it have baggage? (A. Yes) What era is it associated with?  Did some logo or usage make it famous? How would it be judged by laypeople? People of different genders? Businesses? Other designers? These poor little letters, dragging all of this around with them. NOW BACK TO THE REDESIGN

I tried a few things, decided on san serif to narrow it down, and finally landed on this (Intro Condensed Light). It’s clean, bold enough to be readable, light enough to land the “skinny,” and that detail on the “K” and the lone serifed “I” had a little of the old logo’s flavour.

Walrus_Horizontal_WEBI made this variant to have some other option than ICON over WORDMARK or ICON beside WORDMARK.  Plopping horizontal logos into spots made for square or round logos (and vice versa) is such a pain, I like to have a few variations for different uses.  Plus how cute is that walrus, just holding court in front of the words like he’s always been there?

To review:

We went from this:


Walrus_Horiz2_WEB…to this.

If you are in Vancouver, or Saskatoon sometimes, check out anything directed by Brian Cochrane of Skinny Walrus. He wins awards, directs and acts, and also has a podcast and a brand new logo.  You’re gonna be so into all of it.

ELCAF & Beyond

The thing about working on great projects is that it leaves little room to talk about the great projects you’re working on.  Same goes for great trips, and I have been privy to both, remedied in one blog post, right here, right now.  (I will TRY to keep it interesting, but lord knows you will be skimming it anyway. HIDE NOTHING FROM THE LORD. Anyway, let’s get on with it) IMG_9913-2 I recently contributed a comic to a BEAUTIFUL (yes, caps are necessary) private press anthology called Pack Mentality. It’s printed in the most stunning risograph you will ever see (by Toronto’s peerless press, Colour Code).  I have it on international authority that riso has never looked this good. International authority? Who thinks they are hot stuff? ME. I DO. I whisked Pack Mentality away to rainy, moderately weathered London, England for the East London Comic Arts Festival (ELCAF), where it was summarily praised.  Just look at it! Wouldn’t you? 11012517_10155633272705577_3899087376958630850_n 11351278_10155633272040577_638209227342712607_n 11227923_10155633271545577_4674968222645264913_n   ELCAF was dreamy, by the by. I sat next to Joe Sparrow, and was flanked by some amazing Italians.


Left: The lovely Joe Sparrow. Right: Lovely Italians! Centre: My table, full to the brim. Blow: the ELCAF tote I never saw again. RIP, tote. We had a good one day together.

IMG_9889Hot Tip: The new trend is artist created Tarot decks. I saw at least 3 gorgeous decks from different creators.  Stunning, and legitimately great idea. The whole show is hosted by NOBROW, and honestly, the people who put it all together were a DELIGHT.  They took a lone Canadian under their wing, and we all drank pints and ate amazing thai food like only the British (and people who now live in Britain) can. Nicest, funniest, most relaxed people. IMG_9951 Look at these beauties!  Magic. Every one of them.


Marseille. A little blurry, but you get the idea.

After that I went to Marseille! Beautiful everything! (Sky! Buildings! Sea! Vistas!) Terrible people! (Homophobes! Dickheads! Catcallers! Public Urinators!)   The difference was insane. How can such rude, leering, mean frat boys exist in this exquisite place?  It boggles the mind.  Fortunately, I was there with a like minded friend and we foraged our own little way amidst street harassment, heat, and scooters speeding from the sidewalk through red lights into oncoming traffic. Insane.


Not pictured: The smell of urine


Calm now, but in mere moments 5 scooters will rush out and plough you while swearing in french.

The buskers weren’t even good. One dude hitting some drum thing with a stick. All day!  Who is paying for this? Where is the showmanship?  One juggler, standing next to two of his stoned bros, looking terrifying.  Mothers were ushering their children away.  Who would ever approach you with money?!  Baffling.  Poor Marseille. Poor Marseille that also has this, IMG_0016 and this IMG_0064 and this and this, IMG_0152 IMG_0148all just lying around for you to behold. SO PRETTY. The plus side of this loose approach to regulation and law, is being able to go on board a tourist boat to the Chateau D’if: IMG_0107(Real location of the fictional Count of Monte Christo – one of my favourite books!), with your own wine ($4 for an excellent bottle), cheese ($3 for a sublime round), and glasses, and just enjoy them openly.  It’s inconceivable that you could do such a thing even on the Toronto Island ferry. The big downside is the garbage and omnipresent smell of urine. OMNIPRESENT.  Everyone is peeing in the street and it rarely rains.  So you get a sort of piss-seasoned patina on EVERYTHING. And it’s hot everyday. So the whole city becomes an aromatherapy stone soaked with the piss of the ages, released by the heat. Welcome to sunny Marseille! But who can complain when you can swim in THIS water? IMG_0169 (Everyone, is the answer.) London and Marseille were the big legs of my trip, but on the homebound portion, I stopped in Barcelona and Lisbon.  Quick notes on each: Barcelona IMG_0266 IMG_0296 IMG_0219 IMG_0194 Impossible to walk even one block without seeing something amazing. SO BLOODY HOT. I am so intolerant of heat. This was a real problem and impediment to my enjoyment of its obvious beauty. Also the omnipresent message that Barcelona is VERY SAFE… but watch your belongings at all times. Don’t carry your passport or valuables with you. Just keep a wide berth around you and don’t let people brush up against you.  Keep your credit cards in your butt crack and then wear a heavy coat to cover your butt. But, really. It’s very safe. I managed to not be robbed or pick pocketed in anyway, so I guess they were right. But my credit cards will never be the same… Lisbon IMG_0357 I fell in love. The air is fresh, the colours are so… SO. IMG_0349 IMG_0343 Old buildings mixed with surprisingly clear and modern graphic design.  The metro was so easy to navigate, a child could do it – No – The better acid test: a car-spoiled aging boomer could do it.  The airport metro station had some of the most pleasing caricatures I have ever seen. IMG_0325And these are not vinyl transfers, they are TILED INTO THE WALLS. Each one is a notable Portugese figure – writers, economists, play-wrights, artists, scientists, etc.  THIS is what well done tourism should look like: a classy, integrated, beautiful immersion into the culture that is interesting for its own sake, not for the social obligation a tourist must feel to stand and read some historical placard. It’s the perfect addition to their clean and amazing subway system – a sublime use of the line up every metro using tourist is forced to stand in to buy their (affordable!) ticket to get into the city. Look at these funny, expressive figures!  Notice the subtle names below them! Figure out for yourself that these are famous figures!  Ignite your curiosity about a city that asks you in with so bold and yet so quaint an invitation.  I fell in love.IMG_0328 IMG_0329 IMG_0326 IMG_0327

IMG_0335This was my room. It was 24 euro a night. I went to a market and ate the nicest lentil daal I’ve ever had, and drank a little cervesa for 1.50.  There was a notable police presence, but I’d say the same for everywhere I was, except London. In Lisbon, from what my non-Portuguese speaking ears could tell, the people felt really comfortable giving the police what for. I saw two instances of people ragging out the cops in annoyed tones and receiving measured responses. So that’s something. Then home! IMG_9883I have to thank Jerkface readers for being so cool about the suspended break- as a web comic reader myself, I know it can be annoying to wait but I assure you I am grateful, and used my time to the utmost. Up next for me: I’m helping wunder-curator Mia Neilsen (of the Drake hotel) install her curatorial genius at the WAYHOME festival’s VIP tent.  There’s an illustration for real estate agent Linda Mayer to go with the logo I made for her last year.  There’s an update of an existing logo for Vancouver theatre company Skinny Walrus. Now, with a podcast!   Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 5.27.09 PMOh and did I mention the anthology I’ll be doing with MARGARET ATWOOD?  Not just her and I, of course.  Hope Nicholson of Bedside Press has put together an amazing group of women writers and artists for the anthology The Secret Loves of Geek Girls, and I am delighted to be contributing a comic alongside amazing contributors like… well, have a look at the 200+% funded kickstarter (which ends this week, so get in on it while you can!), and be wowed.  I am also going to be drawing another ending for Ryan North’s upcoming choosable path adventure. He did it with Hamlet. He did it with Adventure Time… now it’s Romeo AND/OR Juliet’s turn.  Look for that in the foreseeable future.

Drake Hotel Holiday Decor 2014: Sky Yard

For the second year running, I’ve worked on the holiday decor at one of Toronto’s cultural institutions, the Drake Hotel. Despite a sometimes… rowdy weekend crowd, the Drake has consistently excellent programming from exhibitions to performances to nebulous happenings.  Enough about the Drake! Where’s MY STUFF? Here it is Ego, so chill out:1412-Drake-SkyYard-8700_WEB 1412-Drake-SkyYard-8731_WEB 1412-Drake-SkyYard-8797_WEBYou can see my contribution in the mural of the skinny dipping polar bear jumpers, and the various snow covered trees, both 3D and 2D.

I also did a paint-by-number themed window for the lounge, which I will post photos of as soon as I have some good ones, but you can see all of this in person with a warm (or cold) drink in hand at the Drake Hotel right now and until Dec.30th (ish).

Thanks to the Drake’s Mia Nielsen (curator) and Rea McNamara (assistant curator) for generally being very awesome.

Super Computer

I did a sample piece for Normative, one of Toronto’s loveliest design agencies (firms? gangs? What’s the word here for a group of designers in a big office with a glass conference room that I once, without thinking, flipped the double bird through to two OCAD pals who were inside in a professional meeting. That’s the type of classy behaviour you can expect from Gillian Effing Gee). ANYWAY my sample piece (click to enlarge a bit):


It’s a bit rough, since it was (as mentioned) a sample. The client (who remains unspecified) didn’t use it, and I like parts of it, so here it lays. It’s meant to explain the use of a new computer, and if you can’t glean that perhaps we already know why it wasn’t chosen.

Girl Gang

What’s better than a powerhouse gang of awesome girlfriends? I don’t know if anything is. Sync those cycles (bicycles or… other cycles) and ride out, girls. I did this illustration for a Simpsons themed art show (Fun Fact: it did not get in.) but I like it so much I want it to see the light of day.


I wrote a very vomit-inducing statement to accompany it, and no, you don’t get to see that. My hatred of sincere, existential, culturally nuanced, jargon-filled artist statements is perhaps what keeps me from achieving success.  YES. THAT MUST BE IT.

The Other Toronto Drake

I’ve been doing some decor work for the Drake Hotel  – Toronto’s landmark art hotel. Their Sky Yard is off the hook, yo.  Seriously, it is.

Drake SkyYard 2

Decor in this case, means collaborating with Drake curator/genius/queen Mia Nielsen on the upcoming event and brain-storming ideas. Mia settles on the best one, adds her experience and brilliance, orders stuff (does all the work) and then I come in and install it with some other people. In some cases the ideas involve me also making drawings. Drake Skyyard 3This past winter (you know, the one that never ended), I did some Looney-Tune-esque stuff  to compliment Mia’s Mod Twin Peaks ski chalet vibe (as seen  above and below).

Drake Winter SkyyardI made a cartoon panorama, and then we cut cute sections out of them and put windows and doors on them (as if you are inside looking out at the cartoon landscape), and those sections were printed and mounted.  Below are sections of the panorama, uncut… as it were.

Print GillianG.Mural2-01 GillianG.Mural3-01-01 GillianG.Mural4-01 GillianG.Mural5-01



I also made a repeating background tile – the kind that cycles behind any running cartoon character – that was printed in vinyl and run along the base of the space (you can see it in the very first picture):GillianG.Mural6_Tile
Photos of the Sky Yard are compliments of the Drake Hotel Flickr.


Dress Code Cracker: The Podcast

The hilarious (seriously- so funny), smart and sparkling Sarah Innis has a thoughtful, funny and interesting PODCAST! Not only have I been interviewed for it (ahem) but I made her some print materials.


It’s about style and clothing – but in a SMART way, you guys: “far outside the confines of mainstream consumer fashion culture, we consider pop culture, politics, modern art, and feminism in discussing style as a means of personal expression.”

See photos of interviewees and pictures of their inspiration, as well as sound files HERE:  dresscodecracker.com

Here’s the square version that you’ll find on itunes (and libsyn), where you’ll no doubt subscribe and share with all of your fashionable friends:




A Reddish Dress

Shaunna_Cropped.LRez Shaunna.Rough.LrezMy pal Shaunna is my latest unknowing inspiration/model. Thanks Shaunzie!