Gracie Pekrul is a 16 year old, self taught artist from the Los Angeles area. She began drawing at a very young age and her artwork, as far back as age 3, and has been published in several professional journals. Gracie also loves music and enjoys creating art for Indie bands. She has recently been incorporating activism in her work, and hopes to use her art to change the world.
Carrie: When did you first realize the importance of art in your life?
Art has always been important to me. I can’t remember a time in my life when art wasn’t my passion.
Carrie: How would you describe your art?
Normally I would describe my art as colorful and funky. I love the psychedelic vibes of the 60’s and 70’s and try to reflect that vibrant whimsicalness in my work. For my latest series though, I really wanted to tone it down and keep it simple.
Carrie: Tell us about your most recent art project. How did you get the idea and what went into completing the project?
For my latest project I drew portraits of the 17 beautiful lives lost in Parkland. When I saw the survivors of Stoneman Douglas speaking out after the shooting at their school, I realized I had the power to create change. It felt necessary to contribute to their fight against gun violence, and showing the faces of the ones that were lost was my way off doing that. For about three weeks after the shooting I stayed up until about two in the morning creating these drawings. I completed them on March 14th, the day of the national school walkouts.
Carrie: What do you hope viewers take from your artwork?
I hope the people who look at my art can feel moved and inspired. Many Parkland students and families of the victims have reached out to me, thanking me and telling me that my pictures have helped them heal during such a tragic time. To know I am helping people with my artwork is more than I could ever ask for, and it is the best feeling in the world.
Carrie: Can you describe your artistic process to readers? For example, do you follow the same pattern and track when you develop an artwork from idea to product?
I generally start with a rough sketch when I have a clear idea of what I’m doing. Most of the time though, my drawings are just the end product of a bunch of random doodles. I will draw for hours until I create something that I feel is worth completing.
Carrie: What does your workspace look like?
I draw digitally with an iPad Pro, so my workshop is really wherever I want it to be. I also have an art room set up in my house for painting and sketching.
Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?
I just wish I knew to be more patient with myself. It’s frustrating as an artist when you feel like you can’t execute your ideas the way you envision them. Skill comes with time and with practice, and you can’t be too critical on yourself. It’s important to believe in what you are creating.
Carrie: What strategies do you use to help yourself when you feel “stuck?”
What really helps is to just step away from what I’m working on for a few minutes. By the time I come back to it it’s much easier to figure out what is missing or what needs to be changed. When I am lacking inspiration I like to listen to music for new ideas.
Carrie: What has been one hurdle you’ve overcome as a creative and how did you navigate that problem?
Well, this latest series was very emotionally challenging for me. After reading and learning about each Parkland victim, I felt connected to them, as if they were my own classmates, teachers and friends. I shed a lot of tears throughout this process, but what kept me going was seeing how others have been turning their pain into action.
Carrie: What is one creative resource you can’t live without?
My iPad Pro and Apple Pencil!
Carrie: Who/what inspires you?
I am inspired by the students and parents of Parkland and across the nation who are fighting against gun violence. Artists like Manuel Oliver, whose son was shot at MSD, show me what powerful messages art can convey, and how art can change the world.
Carrie: What does the word artist mean to you?
An artist is someone who shares a part of themselves with the world through their creations. They deliver a message that is unique, and can be interpreted differently by everyone who sees it. Artists reflect the world around them in a truthful and meaningful way.
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