Studio Stories: Gia Graham

Cover banner showcasing a portrait of designer Gia Graham alongside two of her invitation designs, all beautifully framed by an array of illustrated colorful butterflies.
Cover banner showcasing a portrait of designer Gia Graham alongside two of her invitation designs, all beautifully framed by an array of illustrated colorful butterflies.

Explosions of Colors With Twists and Turns, an Interview With Gia Graham

Gia Graham holds her childhood in Barbados close to her heart, but her artwork is universal. She’s inspired so many people that she was even able to become a top teacher on Skillshare as well. Despite all of the unexpected twists and turns throughout her impressive art career, she’s taken on every challenge with enthusiasm and grace.

Greetings Island is fortunate to share our exclusive invitation collaboration (full collection link) with Gia. To celebrate the launch, we picked her brain with an interview. Continue reading to get excited about this phenomenal artist and the art she shares with the world.

You used a lot of soft, inviting colors in the invitations you designed for Greetings Island. What inspired you to use this type of color palette for the collaboration?

I think you used the perfect word: inviting. I wanted the Gia Graham collection to feel warm, inviting and approachable. I also like how soft shades combined with bright hues strikes a balance between elegance and fun.

If you could go to any of the parties you designed invitations for in this collaboration, which one would you want to attend the most and why?

I would definitely attend the pool party and backyard BBQ. I absolutely love the summer and all things summer fun! It’s probably my favorite season because it reminds me of growing up in the tropics.

You’ve shared online that you grew up in Barbados. Has your home influenced the way you create your beautiful art?

I believe it has. Barbados is bursting with color in so many ways. From the vibrantly painted buildings and houses to the explosion of color during our carnival season – all of it has certainly influenced my innate love of color, which of course bleeds into my work. Island life also means interacting with and being surrounded by nature and that love of lush florals and foliage has also found its way into my work.

You have a great sense of humor online! You claim to be most productive in the morning, but you aren’t happy about it. What would your ideal workday look like? How would you balance your productivity and happiness?

In an ideal world, I would still get an early start, but I’d wake up without an alarm. I’d have a quick workout to get the blood flowing, shower, eat, then settle into a cozy spot with my iPad and a good audiobook and start drawing. On a perfect work day, I wouldn’t have to do any administrative tasks, answer emails or think about marketing. I’d spend the entire day in the zone, creating lots of art. That would be the perfect balance between productivity and happiness.

In your office tour video, your design mantra is “A little modern, a little bold, a little vintage, a little gold.” How long did it take you to design your stunning workspace and what’s your favorite feature? Are there any other design elements that you wish you could add?

My workspace is constantly evolving, but it took about two or three years to arrive at this current state. My favorite feature is my filming setup. Although I never set out to create video content, between filming online classes, YouTube tutorials, and creating drawing videos for social media, it has become a big part of my job.

With lots of brainstorming and advice from a photographer friend of mine, we came up with a great solution to install an overhead rig where my camera can be set up permanently, making it really easy to start filming at a moment’s notice. Aside from the convenience, the setup is also perfect because it doesn’t require any floor space in my very small studio.

The one thing I’d love to add next is an adjustable, electric standing desk. I’m still on the hunt for the right one.

You’ve become a top teacher on Skillshare. Out of all of the brilliant classes you’ve created, which one is your favorite and why? What’s your favorite part about teaching other artists?

It’s hard to choose! My personal favorite is my class called ‘Find Your Style’ because I think it’s a great guide for artists to discover their unique voice. On the other hand, my ‘Hand Lettering in Procreate’ class was a pivotal turning point for me as a teacher. Creating that class really helped me develop my teaching style and I love that it’s been able to reach over 35,000 students!

My favorite part about teaching is being part of another artist’s creative journey. It’s so satisfying to see someone accomplish something they didn’t think they could do or were afraid to try. I really enjoy making creative concepts approachable and fun.

You’ve done other cool collaborations, such as designing phone cases, watches, and more. What would you love to see your art featured on next and why?

I would love to see my art featured on a full collection of home goods – everything from rugs and throw pillows to dishware and upholstery. It would be such a thrill to see my artwork integrated into someone’s living space. Selfishly, I’d also love to have those products in my own home as well.

You have a rich artistic background. You’ve done corporate design and branding, art direction, photo styling, stationery design, and more. What role in your career taught you the most as an artist?

I’m not sure that one role in particular taught me the most. All of my experiences over the years have combined to make me the artist I am today.

My corporate design experience taught me how to work with clients on a professional level. Art directing photo shoots helped me learn how to photograph, style, and present my own work. Starting a stationery line helped me understand the ins and outs of greeting card design.

It all merges together to create an artistic point of view that’s unique to my specific experiences.

Imagine this: Money, long-distance loved ones, and other everyday barriers are no longer an issue. What would your dream party look like?

Oh, that’s easy because I’ve daydreamed about this before. 🙂 I would rent a beachside villa in Barbados and fly all my friends in for the event. The party would start in the early evening with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres with beautiful views of the sunset. Once the sun goes down, the DJ would turn up the tunes and we’d dance the night away!

As you look at your whole art career, what were some milestones that felt incredible to achieve? Looking ahead, what’s your greatest goal that you’re excited to accomplish?

My creative career has been a long, winding road with lots of twists and turns. Sometimes it’s necessary to make a pivot and pursue a slightly different path, which has been the case for me three times during the course of my career.

Those pivots have been big milestones for me and I’m proud and grateful to have been able to turn each of those shifts into successful creative ventures. My greatest goal has been to become an independent artist and to work on great projects with great clients – I’m happy to say that I’ve already accomplished that goal!

We’re Here to Make Every Event Precious

Gia Graham may feel like she’s accomplished all of her goals, but we’re sure she’ll continue to surprise the world with her innovations. Appreciating the invitations (full collection link) she crafted for Greetings Island will prepare you for the rest of her vast collection of beautiful artwork.

Greetings Island strives to build an astonishing collection of invitations and greeting cards from some of the most inspiring independent artists. Their passion shines in each piece to help spread joy and make every type of event stand out. Dive into our invitation collection so you can pick your favorites for any upcoming events.

Are you eager to keep up with Gia and her fabulous art projects? Follow her on Instagram @iamgiagraham so you never miss out.