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Gemma O’Brien interview: Law student to renowned commercial artist

March 1, 2022

Gemma O’Brien is an Australian artist, known for her bold super-graphics, illustrative lettering and hand-painted murals. Gemma spoke to us about her artistic process and how she ditched her law degree for the paint brush and never looked back.

We have summarised our interview below…

What Type Of Work Do You Create?

I have been an artist for 10-12 years and became inspired by letterpress printing and have gone on to build a well established career in drawing, illustration, digital design and more specifically, I specialise in typography, lettering and hand painting murals.

My earlier work focused on a lot of black, white and grey scales and slowly I started to explore colour, repeating dot lines and shifting between really slow and detailed work and more loose, free calligraphic styles as well.

I actually studied law and quickly realised it wasn’t for me. When I have a paintbrush in hand, I feel most at home.

What Are Some Of The Tools You Use To Create Your Work?

I often shift between analog and digital, it really just depends on the process. When creating murals in particular, I like to see how they will look digitally, before I start getting to work.

For this, I use the Wacom Cintiq Pro. It’s a really brilliant tool to scan my sketches in, position them and do a mockup of how my work will look at scale. It gives me the power to really zoom right in and it’s almost like this beautiful, physical object that I am working on at the same time. I then feel confident to move into the room and actually paint my work.

When creating art for the commercial world, turn around times are fast and demand is high. people want to see things as of tomorrow. With the Wacom Cintiq Pro I am able to be fast and agile and keep up with the pace. The tablet allows me to hone in on my skills and deliver to commercial deadlines.

What Inspires You?

When I think about what inspires me, the Yayoi Kusama exhibition I saw, 10 years ago now, quickly comes to mind. It was at the MCA and it was this really immersive, beautiful installation. And that was the first time I felt really inspired and really moved by the artwork of somebody else. That’s when I really started to feel excited and energised to create something myself.

To explore more of the Wacom range, and which product can help your own design process, visit us at

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