Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Gemma. I just turned 26. My label is “Candy Bandit.” I live in Melbourne, Australia, and it is beautiful. I share my home with two of my best friends, and they are also beautiful. We often dream of owning a dog, and our dream dog is definitely beautiful. I have a boyfriend named Daniel. He is a musician and he is beautiful. I have six pet rats, and they are THE MOST beautiful! I just opened a shop in Melbourne called Pony Boy Parlour with one of my best and oldest friends (a dream come true!), and everything about that venture is beautiful! I am in love with every creature, great and small, and sometimes I can barely fathom how beautiful they can be! I am passionate about vegetarianism, and all of the food I eat is deliciously beautiful. Have you gathered that I think life is beautiful? Because I do. Coincidently, one of my favourite films is Life is Beautiful.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I sing with my gorgeous lady choir, The Betty Meringues. I like to walk, except I guess one might say that walking is creating energy. I love a good novel, but while I’m absorbed in my reading I seem to create all sorts of fantasies, images and feelings inside my head. Seeing live bands in Melbourne is always amazing, though I must admit that you can often find me creating new (and mostly awkward) dance moves. Well I certainly enjoy sleeping! Oh wait — even while I’m asleep, I’m creating dreams…
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
My memoir would be titled There are Rats Sewing Mittens in the Vegetable Patch. Not only does this title conjure up dreamy Beatrix Potter-esque images, but it incorporates three things that make me who I am: rats, sewing and vegetables! I think it’s a cute and funny title as well, which is certainly important. I swoon over all things cute and funny.
Where does your inspiration come from?
My inspiration is drawn from so many different places, especially the people I am surrounded by, but when it comes down to it, it is definitely an aesthetic thing. I need to spend time staring at images and objects — lace, gold-toned objects, bold shapes, animals, dreamscapes, subtle colours, strange hybrids, geometrical shapes, vintage dolls, unique fashion, ponies, folksy patterns, doilies, diamonds and roses.
What does handmade mean to you?
I liken handmade to concocting a potion — a potent potion that is formulated specifically to entice a particular person into feeling a particular way, capturing their attention and desire. Every “ingredient” is specially selected, making it unique and distinctive. Making things by hand is like creating magic.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
There have been so many people at different times in my life that have been influential, but as for my inspiration for Candy Bandit, there is one person I can bring it down to: my good friend Pete de Bruyn. He was the one person in the beginning that really encouraged me to take the leap into making Candy Bandit my life. He helped me to believe in myself, because back then, he was just a boy from my high school art class, and for some reason I considered his artistic opinion important. Now Pete is one of my best friends. I once said that he was the blood and I was the flesh when it came to Candy Bandit. Now I am both the blood and the flesh of it myself, because we have gone in separate creative directions, but without him I would not be doing what I am doing today. Thank you, Peter!
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
When my mum told me it was so.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
If I could peek inside the studio of Jim Henson, my dreams would come true! No, seriously, I once dreamed that I got to go to his studio and I had to help him finish making a puppet. Then we had to load them all onto these trucks. Being in his workspace would be surreal — especially if I got to see anything from The Dark Crystal!
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
I have so many! But the one I cherish the most would have to be my doll from Ghostpatrol (my favourite Melbournian artist). He gave it to me as a gift because I made him a brooch from one of his artworks. The dolls are all one of a kind, so it is very special. It is also a good creature to hug when times are tough, because he has very long, soft arms!
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Simply with a pair of scissors and a pile of magazines! Frankie Magazine and Peppermint Magazine are the best; they are always full of delightful, inspirational images that I use to plaster my walls.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I would still like to be in Melbourne, but I would like to be well-travelled by then. I want (need!) to go to Tokyo and I have been wanting to visit Mexico for the Day of the Dead festival since I was studying at Uni. I hope I am still running Pony Boy Parlour and Candy Bandit successfully, and I hope I still have pet rats!