Amelia’s Magazine | Portfolio: an interview with illustrator Gabriel Ayala aka Gaarte

Nova Chiu A/W 2013 by Gaarte

Nova Chiu A/W 2013 by Gaarte.

Fashion illustrator Gabriel Ayala is based in New York, from where he has been contributing regularly to Amelia’s Magazine for several years. We always look forward to his idiosyncratic and often spectacular depictions of runway looks from the London Fashion Week shows, and thought it was about time we caught up with the enigmatic illustrator better known as Gaarte.

Ekaterina Kukhareva S/S 2014 by Gaarte

Ekaterina Kukhareva S/S 2014 by Gaarte.

How did you get into fashion illustration?
I first came into contact with fashion illustration through a book in the library at KCC (Kingsborough Community College). This was 10 years ago. I remember flipping through the pages of this book and when I landed on George Stavrinos‘s page I just feel in love. By the next semester, I was at FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) studying Fashion Illustration. I had a mentor in the school, Bil Donovan, who is a fashion illustrator and encouraged me towards pursuing it as a career.

Fyodor Golan A/W 2013 by Gaarte.

Fyodor Golan A/W 2013 by Gaarte.

What is your design background?
As far as design goes, I did a semester of menswear (at FIT). By this time I was already in school for about 5 years and I couldn’t take it anymore. Within those 5 years I studied graphic design, photo retouching, commercial illustration and fashion illustration.

Heohwan Simulation by Gaarte

Heohwan Simulation by Gaarte.

What are your design inspirations?
I draw inspiration from other designers’ work. I don’t get inspired by nature, animals, or abstract concepts. I need to keep the work consistent & commercial within extremely tight deadlines. (I know that the response seems very dry but I’m keeping it real).

How do you set about working on a new illustration?
I start every work from a concept written in my sketchbook… I need to decide how this project relates to ME? What is MY perspective. Once I decide how the work speaks to ME then I start sketching ideas. Afterwards I develop the sketches into works that have a commercial sensibility.

Corrie Nielsen by Gaarte

Corrie Nielsen by Gaarte.

What is an essential requirement for you to work happily?
Music videos and music are really essential. I start blasting music, seeing the visuals and that inspires me to work through the illustration. I usually have youtube or MTV hits playing. Depending on how I am feeling I listen to certain types of music. Pop, hip-hop, rock, reggaeton it doesn’t really matter. If I don’t have music then I feel like I’m forcing the work instead of letting it flow. I refer to this a creative constipation.

Here are some songs that I’m digging at the moment:
Jay-Z Ft. Kanye West- Who Gon Stop Me
Eminem – The Monster (Audio) ft. Rihanna
Natalia Kills – Problem
I Luv This Shit (Explicit)

Ong-Oaj Pairam by Gaarte

Ong-Oaj Pairam by Gaarte.

You’ve been contributing to Amelia’s Magazine for some years now, how did you discover it and what keeps bringing you back?
I used to work for a company named and I was tracking an image (from their offices) back through the blog of Tom Hovey. In his blog he had a link to Amelia’s Mag and the rest is history I guess. I think that Amelia’s Mag is a platform for emerging fashion creatives worldwide. And the magazine is the only publication in the world to display photography and fashion illustration in the same article under the same light (at least this is what I believe). And the reason why I keep coming back is to be a part of a publication that promotes and displays fashion illustration.

Carlotta Actis Barone S/S 2013 by Gaarte

Carlotta Actis Barone S/S 2013 by Gaarte.

What has been the best part about creating fashion illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine?
The best part is creating the work. Executing a piece of commercial work for the  public is exciting. Having that work live and represent me, my idea, my concept and my brand is dope. It’s better than having your work in a gallery, in-print or on a wall because that is static… it’s a static life. When you get your work out there, especially on a platform like Amelia’s Magazine, then the work has the capability to take on a life of it’s own (I’m not saying that it always takes a life of it’s own… I’m saying it has the capability). It is good to have work featured in the magazine coz that gives you credibility, sort of like Juxtapoz, but for fashion illustration. Then social media allows the artwork to take on another life, another audience.

Ashish S/S 2014 by Gaarte

Ashish S/S 2014 by Gaarte.

You have recently been working with Fashion Group International in New York. Can you tell us a bit about the company and what your role is?
I’ve been with FGI since 2011. They are a membership organization and a non-profit, specializing in events tailored to the fashion professional. There are many different regions, each region organizes events such as retail and beauty symposiums, trend presentations and so on. We recently celebrated our 30th Annual Night of Stars Gala honoring Marc Jacobs. And we are currently organizing our annual Rising Star Awards. I am the first in house graphic designer/ web designer. I’m also involved in social media for FGI. I work with a team of marketers to develop the look and feel of an event as well as design and develop any printed material and eblast relating events. On the social media end of things, I tie the events into the social platforms and try to keep FGI in the conversation (of major fashion news).

Yeashin S/S 2014 by Gaarte

Yeashin S/S 2014 by Gaarte.

Referring back to the inspiration question, when you work with a bunch of marketing people you’re work needs to be on point EVERY single time. So you need to refer to what is happening in the industry and trying to keep up with commercial standards. And there are so many different events so you have to pull inspiration from EVERYWHERE…. so you’re everywhere and no where at the same time.

Nian S/S 2014 by Gaarte

Nian S/S 2014 by Gaarte.

Can you tell us a bit about your everyday life in Brooklyn, New York?
My everyday life is boring… and I love it like that. I am a fitness guy so I begin my day with an egg white protein shake. Then I’m off to the gym to workout. I spend 2 hours at the gym come back home. The rest of my day is spent in front of a computer when I’m not cooking and running around with my nephew. In case if you’re wondering, the majority of the meals that I cook are healthy. I do a lot of research on healthy foods. Most people think that I’m on steroids but I’M NOT. (When I say most people I’m referring to: my co-workers, my friends, my brother and my mother).

Gabriel Ayala self portrait

Self Portrait.

Thankyou so much Gabriel, it’s been fabulous to get a better insight into your everyday life, inspirations and work practice. Do watch out for more artwork from Gaarte in the near future, as he will be one of our very special portfolio illustrators on the new website.

Categories ,Bil Donovan, ,brooklyn, ,Fashion Group International, ,Fashion Institute of Technology, ,Gaarte, ,Gabriel Ayala, ,George Stavrinos, ,Juxtapoz, ,Kingsborough Community College, ,London Fashion Week, ,new york, ,Rising Star Awards, ,, ,Tom Hovey

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