In the Studio: Rebecca Mock

Brooklyn, New York

Rebecca Mock is a narrative driven illustrator with a twist. Her fantastic environment and spaces are only enhanced with beautifully sculpted animated GIFs.

How would you convey your illustration in five words?

Quiet, details, light, space, secrets.

What are the first three initial steps that you take when a commissioner approaches you for an illustration project?

1) I ask for as much detail as I can get.

2) I look at my calendar and imagine how the project would fit in.

3) I take a moment to come up with a couple initial ideas for the project, to see whether the idea is something that jumpstarts my imagination.

How did you get into illustration and when did you starting creating GIF animations?

I studied painting in school, but switched to illustration pretty quickly when I realized that the conversations being had in the illustration classes were much closer to the thoughts that I had about painting. I felt that my work better suited illustration and I never looked back. The GIFs started as a fun experiment, and when my peers were impressed I started showing them to art directors, and jobs started sprouting from that.

You’re based in New York – in terms of influencing your work, what would you say is the most inspiring aspect of the city?

The potential for interaction and conversation is so great here, and the artists I have met here have helped inspire and motivate me. This city has so much history, and there’s always something new to learn.

Your GIF illustrations are very detailed – what was the most complex GIF you have had to illustrate and how long did it take you to complete?

So far, the most complex piece was the ‘Aftershocks’ GIF, in terms of animated detail. It took me a long weekend to animate.

Tell us a little about the process you go through to make your style apparent in your work.

Most of my work consists of a lot of straight lines and sharp shapes. At the beginning, what I often have is a ‘skeleton’ drawn using straight lines only. Then I will start adding the different objects, walls, sections in layers, and finally on top adding the small details. It’s a bit like building the space in three dimensions. The final step is adding lighting – which I’ll have planned out from the beginning, considering the shapes made by cast light and shadow.

Pick three things that are most valuable to you in your studio and explain to us why you have chosen them and what story there is behind them.

1) Of course my Cintiq will come first, as it’s were I do all my work. It’s an extremely efficient tool for drawing digitally and has allowed me to work much faster. I saved up to buy one for a while and finally made the purchase a couple years ago.

2) Garlands – I love craft projects, and I’ve made several different kinds of paper garlands. I hang them around my desks to create the effect of working in a garden or a colorful fantasy world rather than the drab corner of my room.

3) My desk lamp, a little Ikea light – it is the same one that I bought in my freshman year of college, and has seen me through nearly nine years of tireless work.

If you could pick any artist or illustrator to make a collaborative piece with, who would it be?

I’ve mentioned to a lot of people that I would love to work with Kevin Dart! Other than that, I have already achieved collaborating with a favourite artist of mine: the cartoonist Hope Larson is the writer of the two graphic novels I have drawn.

How do you spend your free time when you aren’t working on illustration?

I have so little free time, so I usually stick close to home on my nights off. I like to cook myself a nice big feast, settle in with a book, or play video games. I also like dabbling in my hobbies, namely filmmaking and craft projects.

What has been your most enjoyable commission to date?

I have so many favourites! I think one of the pieces I’m proudest of is the poster I made for JStor last year. I was handpicked for the project by a team that really loved my work, and they asked me to take my time and make a piece that I could have a lot of fun with. I chose to create a very lush and detailed, sunny still-life, full of secrets.