Gwendolyn Wood

 My name is Gwendolyn Wood! I'm a full time visual artist based out of Cap Hill, Seattle, Washington. My pronouns are She/her. I was born and raised in Cincinnati Ohio, and got my BFA from Virginia Commonweath University in Richmond, Virginia.

In a sentence, how would you describe your work? 

My work oscillates between silly and cute and quite serious realistic studies of animals in their environments, but I'd say the defining feature of it is that I try to pack a lot of personality into the expressions and environments, and I imagine that must be the part that specifically reflects me.

Do you have any favorite themes you enjoy working with?  

I'm an animal artist right down to my bones. I could never get tired of painting animals, fantasy, real, or cartoon. It's the core of my need for artistic expression. 

What mediums do you like to work in? 

I'm a huge traditional media evangelist! I really specialize in microns, watercolors, and mixed media watercolor with acrylic, but enjoy playing around in lots of ways. When I work digitally I like to do really bold and simple vector shapes.

As an artist, are there any tools that you would perish if you left the house without them? 

 I think micron pens are my ride-or-dies. Are lines real? no! But I love them more than anything. I have a very simple, wobbly linework style so I'm not sure why I'm so obsessed. I think maybe linework is as close to the speed of thought & observation as any medium can get.

If you were an environmental storytelling skeleton, how do you think you'd be found?  

I'm stealing this ideal death scenario from my partner, but I'd love to be found having been gnawed apart by wolves. Or maybe a big cat.

Do you have a dream project you'd like to work on someday?

Ideally one day I'd love to illustrate a children's book! I think I'll know when it's time & and the right opportunity will come. Educational illustration would be huge too. I got the incredible opportunity to do some really beautiful paintings for the Pacific Science Center's Butterfly House signage (I also did the signage) and it was like a dream come true. And yet, I'm still dreaming. I can't wait for my next project like that.

What is the strangest/goofiest (PG) fact about yourself that you're comfortable sharing? 

I have a wicked scar on my left ring toe from kicking the blade of a renaissance fair replica katana when I was in my early teens. Turns out swords are sharp!

What drew you to the imagery of crocodiles for this design? 

Oooh I just love them. I kind of have a rotating rolodex of animals I want to draw in my mind and I like to flip on a per-project basis to what it's been a while since I've drawn. I thought the image of a tiny alligator floating atop a foot was a bit delightful, and explaining an environment using simple shapes in the flat-yet-warped perspective of a sock was so exciting!

Can you talk a little about your design process? Where do you draw your inspiration from, and how do you work shop your design from draft to final? 

This is so specific, but there was a Jean Craighead George short story from the perspective of an alligator I was obsessed with as a kid, it just made it so attainable to -feel- like a real one. I lay awake at night imagining being an alligator for months. I hadn't thought about the story in a long time, but it came back very vividly while designing this sock. For vector artwork I still start on paper, then trace the sketch while making lots of choices to simplify shapes to their essence. It's a really different thought process to painting in some ways... but not in others. I start in greyscale to nail values down. Then, and this is what I hate most about digital art, I spent a disturbing amount of time swapping colors in & out to find what I like. With paint on paper it feels so intuitive and there's less second guessing. But the bright-side is these are the most perfect colors possible for the design. They have to be.

Do you have a favorite feature of the sock design?  

The flattened perspective of the cyprus reaaally delights me. And it will be going up the back of your ankle like a real tree. But it's also still flat. It's a fun mind-bender. 

Ankle or crew socks for preference? 

Crew all the way! Does it make matching your socks to your outfits harder? Yes. But when you get it right you feel like a genius. Or, if you get it wrong you will stun and delight everyone with your devil-may-care attitude. Win Win. I'd recommend ankle socks to those who are shy, or conversely, perhaps have exceptionally beautiful ankles they can't live without showing off. I see you too.


For more of Gwendolyn's art, visit her portfolio or Instagram