blog - 'The Girl in the Wild' by Gwen Vanderstraeten
Yugen collaborates with local illustrators to capture and visualize the Yugen essence. Their creations conceptualize how they interpret this Ancient Japanese concept. It's their personal homage to the beauty of the natural world and the limitless creativity of the mind to capture the subtle details of life.
In this ongoing series, we ask every illustrator the same questions, who are they, what is the story behind the design, and what holds the future. Let's dive deep into their minds and join them in their imaginary world of wonders.
Who is Gwen Vanderstraeten?
Gwen Vanderstraeten, aka Mellon, is an illustrator living and working in Antwerp. She works for clients in the editorial, cultural and commercial sector. For Yugen, she illustrated the Cherry-Thyme flavour.
Mellons illustrations always include a lot of detail, colour and little elements. Tropical jungle plants, music and human portraits are recurring elements. She starts off with pencil on paper, but most of the work is coloured digitally. She finds it liberating to try new ways of drawing and to experiment with techniques, nonetheless striving to keep a recognizable Mellon feel to it all.
In her personal work, she pushes this experimental desire even further, trying to break free from known techniques.
Which artists and which subcultures have influenced her drawing style?
“As an artist you are influenced by so much consciously and subconsciously. I follow many other artists on Instagram who certainly inspire me. However, I try to stay away from those outside influences as much as possible, just to maintain individuality. ”
If one name stands out for her, it's David Hockney. Although his influence is stronger in her personal work than in her commissioned work.
In addition, she has always enjoyed to read and watch graphic novels. This has undoubtedly left its mark on her own work.
“Graphic work is of course very closely interwoven and inspiring. I can also spend a lot of time looking for beautiful record covers. I really enjoy that. ”
Which atmosphere and emotions characterize her drawings?
Mellon mainly does illustrative commission work, which is why it's more difficult to stick one typical atmosphere and emotion to her professional work. After all, the subjects are very diverse.
In her personal drawing work she loves making portraits. She often finds something elusive in the eyes of the people she draws.
“I don't strive to create a perfect representation of a person, but try to create something interesting and new by illustrating what stands out for me. Beauty in imperfection.
What is the story behind the design?
She wanted to incorporate a lot of fine details in this illustration, emphasizing the delicate beauty of nature. The woman submerges herself fully in the abundance of detailed plants. Becoming one with nature. As it should be. Especially in these times, where nature is suffering, it's essential to remind people about the beauty of nature and the respect for mother earth we all should have.
What does the future hold?
At the moment she is working towards an exhibition with a series of charcoal drawings, and really enjoys spending her time painting.