Gemma Correll: Illustrating a World of Her Own

August 9 - On The Dot
It’s a great day to be a woman! Melinda Garvey here as your voice, with the mission to give women everywhere a place to be heard and tell their stories. We’d love to hear from you!

FIRST THOUGHT: Banking on Creativity

A few months ago, I was 30,000 feet above North Carolina and noticed the middle-aged woman across the airplane aisle was diligently filling in a coloring book. It brought flashbacks of being a kid, when life was simple and fun.

When the plane landed, I sought out an adult coloring book of my own. During a flight a few weeks later, I colored my heart out. The woman beside me remarked, “What a great idea!” That’s the thing about creativity: it’s contagious.

We’re often so stuck in the monotony of our lives that we forget to explore the right side of our brains. Today, give yourself permission to color inside or outside the lines.


Did you know 51 percent of visual artists are, in fact, women? Pretty neat, right? But here’s the thing: If you walked into any number of art museums, you probably wouldn’t have guessed there are so many women in the field.

Gallery Tally, a crowdsourced project that highlights art inequality, found that only 32.3 percent of 4,000 artists represented in Los Angeles and New York City are women. Even worse, women account for less than 4 percent of the artists in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Oh yeah, but 76 percent of the nudes there feature women. Go figure.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Gemma Correll, Illustrator

Today, we’re talking about a talented pug-loving illustrator, cartoonist and writer. With pens, colored pencils and ink washes, Gemma Correll creates wildly popular tongue-in-cheek pieces that comment on the world around her.

After specializing in illustration in college, Gemma struggled to find full-time work as an artist, but while working on her own illustration projects and selling products at craft fairs in the evenings and on weekends, she landed her first gig: designing a brochure of vacation packages for an airline.

As any artist can attest, getting your work out there is tough stuff, so Gemma started working with an illustration agency that brought in international clients like Real Simple magazine. She also did a lot of the grunt work herself, sending promotional postcards to art directors and contacting clients she wanted to work with. These days, her work is featured everywhere from Hallmark cards to The New York Times.

This imaginative lady has released approximately a bazillion whimsical books, like Doodling for Cat People and The Worrier’s Guide to Life. In May, Seal Press published her super fun coloring book, The Feminist Activity Book, which claims you can “smash the patriarchy and get your crafty fix.”

Gemma has also depicted the struggles of mental illness, using her pen and a little humor to destroy the stigma and encourage others that they’re not alone. As part of Mental Health America’s #MentalIllnessFeelsLike campaign, Gemma created a series of illustrations depicting how it feels to be burdened by anxiety and depression.

Like many artistic women, Gemma is full of ideas and has several creative outlets. She often comments on the silly idea of the so-called perfect woman. BBC’s BodyPositive campaign displays her illustrations about spreading self-love instead of the self-doubt us ladies are used to. One of my favorites is of a woman in a yoga pose trying to meditate whose thought bubbles show what she’s really thinking about: “Am I in the moment? Is this the moment? How will I know if I’m in the moment? I’m hungry. I want chips.”

From her Instagram sketches to her doodle notebooks and hilarious takes on real life, Gemma has found a way to illustrate a new way of thinking. Color us tickled pink!


Are you feeling artistic but unsure whether your art is worthy? Here’s a lesson on women and art from feminist icon Gloria Steinem, who said:

“The state of female artists is very good. But the very definition of art has been biased in that ‘art’ was what men did in a European tradition and ‘crafts’ were what women and natives did. But it’s actually all the same.”

That’s all for now. Be sure to share this so more women can have a voice! Thanks for getting ready with us.

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