It Girl | GISELLE WILLIAM-THOMAS
Giselle is equal parts sweet and talented. One look at her Instagram account and it is very clear! She shares about her love of handwriting, where she gets her gift, and advice for her 25 year old self.
Name: Giselle Williams-Thomas
Job Title/Company: Artist/Designer/ Founder of The Handwriting Artist
Education Background: Film Production & Graphic Design
1. Tell us a little about script art and how you got started.
As a child, I admired and somewhat obsessed over my father’s signature. There was a way that he wrote his letters that, to me, allowed it to look like a series differing vertical lines which leaned slightly to the right. There were times he would write block letters and they were so artistic to me. His letter ‘A’ never had that little apex – he made his where there were two ninety degree angles and to me that was everything. In my mind, I saw it as a way of standing out and being non conformist. Since then, I’ve always wanted my letters to stand out and be different from the other person. My letter “B” will massacre your letter “B” just because I added an extra swirl to it. It was about the flair, presentation, and attention to detail. It’s always been cathartic for me to simply write. My emotions are reflected in my writings.
2. Did your studies in college apply to what you're doing now? If not, when and where did you acquire the necessary skills?
In the beginning, I started out in Film production but eventually changed my major to Graphic Design. I didn’t graduate from college but I’ve recently re-enrolled to complete my BFA. I feel it’s necessary to actually complete it. However, much of what I did in college helped me with along with the technical aspect of design and typography. However, I have learned so much through social media Instagram in particular and YouTube. In retrospect, I never really considered ‘my work’ art until I started posting some of it on my personal Instagram page (@gigiandninidesigns) and other forms of social media. The response I garnered from those posts led me to create the IG handle @thehandwritingartist – a destination for samples of everything I’ve created thus far (#thehandwritingartist). I’m so thankful for social media since info and info sharing has become so readily available. Being exposed to new artists and designers and to see how their work has progressed has been super inspiring. Knowing that, though established, these persons who I admire have had humble starts encourages me to trust my gut more and create from within. If I can look at something that I’ve done and fall in love with it, I’ll be happy.
3. What were your initial goals with your script art? How have they evolved?
In the beginning I didn’t really think much of it. All I wanted to do was write for the fun of it. My mind set really changed when I came across the brilliant works of Illustrators Garance Dore and Bernadette Pascua who have used their handwriting and illustration skills to secure collaborations (via their agency) with major fashion and beauty brands. Also, I’ve been highly obsessed with every art piece created by Retna, a street/graffiti artist with such vision. Recently, I took a Handbag Design course at Parsons NYC. My professor was the esteemed handbag and jewelry designer Bliss Lau and I’ve made a few clutches which came out pretty decent. That’s when it all clicked. I’m the definition of a dreamer and although I would love the opportunity to work with beauty and fashion brands, I could also envision using my prints and designs to create my very own empire. Currently I’m in the process of making a few clutch bags based on one of my designs called “868”, a design which pays homage to my homeland and country of birth, Trinidad and Tobago. As time progresses, I want to add more grittiness and grime to my pieces so it’s not always so ‘pretty’ you know? Living in New York has been such a wonderful learning experience. There is artistic expression everywhere. I’ve been living for graffiti and street art these days. In the meantime, I’m working on building the Gigi + Nini Designs brand. Currently, in addition to having done customized script work for a few, I have a few coffee mugs in production in addition to some t-shirts which eventually be added to the list of items I have offered.
4. What advice would you give your 25 year-old self?
Pursue your passion. There have been so many times that I have done things to please other people instead of simply pleasing myself. I’ve been told on many occasions that I should/should have been a lawyer (I usually like to prove my points of view and sway you weren’t on my page previously). I’ve made decisions to fit into the mold that others have sometimes prescribed for me. At the end of it all, it all comes full circle in that I’m here doing what I love and I’m passionate about. I’m dreaming and working towards turning my passion into my actual profession.
5. What skills have you learned from designing script art?
I’ve been learning how to incorporate texture into my pieces so that it won’t be so one dimensional. To me, there has to be more depth to it. My script has always been more on the cursive side since it’s what I’ve been drawn to.
6. How did you become interested in interior design? Would you say that your passion for script art and love for interior design go hand-in-hand?
Oh my other passion and love of interior design. I’m the kind of person where my entire mood could be altered by my surroundings. Having a pretty awesome spot (which doesn’t necessarily mean having the most expensive spot) means the world to me. It’s where my creativity thrives. I know what I like and try to create my own pieces when the opportunity presents itself. One of my good friends said I should fashion myself to be the female version of “Jonathan Adler”. I can rock with that idea. Recently, I customized an inexpensive IKEA lampshade using my script. It was totally revamped, modern and fresh and all I needed was a Sharpie as a tool.
7. What is a typical day like for you?
I would like to say that I’m happy to wake up pretty early but that would be a huge lie. I’m so not a morning person but tend to get chipper upon my first cup of coffee. I’m up early enough to get my beloved six-year-old daughter Na’ima ready for school then I get ready to get to my 9-5 job. It’s not a creative position by any means but I still enjoy it. I usually create my post for the day for @thehandwritingartist while I’m on the train on my way to work. On my lunch break I usually talk it up with coworkers while I sketch and write on my iPad, then it’s back to the grind. Eventually when I’m done at work I get home to the other job (wife and mom) where I get enjoy them as much as I can. Later on I can be found reading about illustration, business and design, on the computer practicing illustration, or writing for my blog or other blogs for which I contribute.
8. What was the biggest obstacle you faced while pursuing your dreams?
The biggest obstacle would have be the lack confidence in myself when it came to actually believing that my work was ‘good enough’. I questioned myself at times since it was something I was never formally trained in plus I never thought that people would actually appreciate handwriting as a form of art. The idea of me being considered artist or having my writings be considered art is all so very new to me. The mere fact that I’m now answering these questions about myself, my works and my intentions, is a testament to the gift others saw within me when I couldn’t acknowledge it for myself. With continued work comes progress and for all of this, I’m extremely grateful.