Régine Debatty interviews the girls behind Good Wives and Warriors, the illustration duo who have drawn on walls, cars and magazines for big name clients.
Good Wives and Warriors is the creative partnership of Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell, who met while studying at the Glasgow School of Art. Right now the creative duo is based in London but the young ladies have traveled the world to paint mandalas, collaborate with design companies, think about the cosmos, cover walls and furniture with paintings or simply exhibit their illustrations.
Their work has been featured in countless magazines and books. Right now, you can see Good Wives and Warriors work their magic on TV ads and billboards glorifying gigantic bottles of vodka and next month they will participate to Glitch Fiction, a collective exhibition part of the Paris Design Week.
The work of Good Wives and Warriors is identifiable and iconic. you have managed to developed a very strong, very personal style that doesn’t seem to be repetitive nor comfortable. Do you feel that this is only a strength and not a curse sometimes? For example, when clients expect you to stick to to what you are known for and you would rather feel like deviating and surprising them?
We feel very much that our practice is divided into commercial work and our art work. Clients rarely want a surprise or to take a risk. They will have asked us because they like our style and will probably want something very much in the mold of what we do, which is fine. This is why it’s really important for us to continue doing our own projects as we can make new and exciting work where we have total freedom and no restrictions.
GWaW is Becky Bolton and Louise Chappell. You seem to work very closely together but could someone who knows you well be capable of identifying who did what in a painting or an illustration? Like it would happen for example if either of you was more in charge of colours and the other of drawing the general outlines. Or do you work in such symbiosis that the end result is completely seamless even to you? How do you manage that?
When we first started working on our wall paintings together there were definitely separate areas or styles. We would have our own roles and you could probably tell the sections apart. Now we do work fairly seamlessly, and share the roles pretty evenly. We feel like GWAW is a separate entity rather than the work of two individuals. Sometimes looking back on work we’ve done and we have no idea who did which bit, especially if one of us did the original drawing and then the other did a re-draw.
Ideally we would always both work on the same drawing but that is not always possible. Our wall paintings however are always done together. Communication is the key to being able to work together well but we can second guess each other now, especially when we’re painting. We seem to instinctively know who is doing which bit, so I suppose it is a bit of a weird symbiotic relationship!
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Régine Debatty is an art curator and the creator of the blog We Make Money Not Art. She has also spoken at several conferences and festivals about the way artists, hackers and interaction designers (mis)use technology.