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#MeetTheResident – Gemma O’Neill

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Gemma O’Neill is an Illustrator and Author based in Belfast and Blick Resident of Hill Street Studios.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your business?

My name is Gemma O’Neill and I’m an Illustrator/Author. I graduated from Falmouth University back in 2011 with a BA (Hons) Degree in Illustration and my first authored and illustrated children’s picture book deal after visiting the Bologna Children’s Book Fair during my final year of study.

I gave up my day job around a year and half ago to work completely freelance. It was a great decision. It gave me the opportunity to broaden my portfolio and take on a wider range of projects alongside working in children’s publishing. I also have my own print business now too.

 Any projects you’re currently working on?

I’m currently developing a children’s alphabet board book, counting board book, two new picture books and a potential series of information children’s books. I’m also working on an ongoing project, Houses of Hillsborough for an exhibition with In Klöver sometime after the summer.

Another ongoing project is my print business, which started online with prints and greetings cards. I’m hoping to build on the range of products soon, as well as grow my number of stockists.

What was the biggest hurdle for you starting out and how did you overcome it?

My biggest hurdle starting out was becoming homeless in between working on my first and second picture book. What should have been a wonderful, exciting time, was probably one of the most stressful experiences I’ve ever had and it took a long time to recover from. However, I remained creative throughout the time, which was comforting. Making it through something like that can really cement your dreams further and make you even more determined to succeed. It really drives my work and overall approach to life now.

How do you stay creative/inspired?

I find it useful to have several projects on the go at one time. It takes the pressure of each individual project and alternating between projects keeps the work fresh too. I also find it great to separate work from the hobby, by working on personal projects. It’s still important to draw, colour and write just for the joy of it. It’s the love for these individual things that made me choose my particular career path to begin with! I find location drawing very useful too. It’s great to get away from the desk and I work quite freely when I’m outside or under pressure with people around me. This freeness usually feeds through to whatever I’m working on in the studio.

It’s great to be creative in other ways too. I’ve always loved photography, perhaps because of the link to storytelling and composition or perhaps because it’s another visual language.

It’s good to just detach from creativity too. One of my greatest sources of inspiration is nature and the great outdoors. I love hiking and always go back to my desk feeling very refreshed afterwards. Travelling has the same effect too. It’s great to see different places and experience different cultures.

Who is your creative hero?

I have a few! But my top three are Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake and JK Rowling. Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake brought about my love for books from a young age. Roald Dahl is the ultimate children’s storyteller to me, an absolute original, who will never be replaced. I still read all of his books over and over again today. I think Quentin Blake is the ultimate illustrator too. I doubt there’s anything he can’t illustrate and the joy for what he does just shines through in his illustrations. They’re so freeing to look at. I think JK Rowling is a bit of a genius too. The Harry Potter series is timeless. All ages can relate to the stories. She’s also just a very strong, inspirational lady!

 What piece of software/ tool/ equipment would you struggle to run your business without?

There are so many things I couldn’t run my business without. It all begins with getting an idea down on a page, either in illustration format or written format. So a pencil, a pen and a sketchbook are absolutely essential. Materials such as gouache, watercolours, ink, crayons and colouring pencils are necessary for generating artwork too. Then beyond the traditional side of working as an illustrator… a scanner, computer, Photoshop and InDesign are essential for bringing illustrations up to print or website standard.

What’s your top tip/piece of advice for anyone wanting to start their own creative business?

Surround yourself with positive people, people who believe in you and people who inspire you… the right people, basically. Time is incredibly valuable and the wrong people are a waste of your time. The right environment can definitely influence the people you have around you too. I moved to just outside Belfast about a year and a half ago. There are greater opportunities here and I’ve been lucky to meet lots of like-minded people too, which always has a positive impact on creativity. The move has really normalised my career choice as well and being around so many inspiring creative people makes anything feel possible.

You can learn more about our Hill Street Residents https://www.blickstudios.org/hill-street-residents/

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Instagram post 2116839509932315580_295518986 We are excited to introduce our new 2 day retreat called 'The Creative Start-up retreat'.
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Karishma Kusurkar from Karishma’s world and Christine James from Blick Shared Studios will be running a 2 day creative enterprise retreat on the 5th & 6th of October.
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They are aiming to empower and inspire creatives to make their creative business idea a reality. Having worked with creative businesses over the past decade, we wanted to create a tailor-made retreat for those in the creative sector looking to start something new.
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We know that it can be particularly challenging to build a viable business in the creative sector and our hope is that this retreat makes it a little easier to understand how that could be made possible whilst ensuring your creativity is able to flourish.
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Over the weekend retreat, we will focus on 4 key areas:
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Values & Vision – understanding your values, vision and goals and how these will impact your creative business.
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Your Customer Journey – understanding your customers’ values and needs, ensuring your business meets their needs and learning how to communicate with potential customers before, during and beyond launching a product or service.
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Business idea & Skills – refining your business idea, products & services, understanding your USP, pricing your work, networking and making connections and managing your finances.
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Communicating with your customers – creating a brand with integrity (visuals, words & actions), building an online presence that works (website, social media etc.) and presenting your work in person (sales, pitching & presentations)
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At the end of the retreat participants will leave with a completed values and vision board, creative enterprise toolkit (useful resources & templates) and a creative business action plan.
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The full course will cost £80.
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Visit our website to book your space today!
https://www.blickstudios.org/events/creative-start-up-retreat/
Instagram post 2115998541142080506_295518986 We are excited to announce our next event that is happening on the 10th September titled :
SME’s Survival – Unlocking Your Business Potential With Your Customers Perspective
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SME’s face significant challenges today. Accessing new customers and retaining existing customers is hard work. This is because customers today are spoiled for choice and have more options to choose from than ever before. But also, because habits are constantly changing as technology evolves around us.
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This session is about offering SME’s practical tools that they can use for their business to help them access their customer, understand who they are and their habits. The more you understand about your customer, the more opportunities for you to increase revenue from different customer markets. Markets that you’re missing at the moment because the needs of certain customer groups is unknown to you.
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There are only 10 places* available so booking fairly early on is essential. To book, https://elizabethmeehan.typeform.com/to/DD2lAM
- *2 persons from each SME allowed.
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This session forms part of USER-FACTOR a three-year project funded by the Interreg Atlantic Area Programme, aiming to strengthen innovation in small and medium enterprises (SMEs). It is offered free but, offering the latest thinking in, it is worth £265
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Location: Blick Shared Studio, 46 Hill St
Date & Time: 10th September, 6-9pm
Booking: see link above and complete short form
Further queries: info@coffeenosugar.co.uk
Cost: freeImage credit: Roman Krafhttps://www.blickstudios.org/events/smes-survival-unlocking-your-business-potential-with-your-customers-perspective/
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#course #business #customerservice
#blickstudios
Instagram post 2115282133206946786_295518986 Lovely quiet Wednesday in our Hill Street studio
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#cathedralquarter #belfast #cosy #northernireland #architecture #photography #photographer #interiordesign #belfastcreatives #sharedworkspace #sharedstudio #workspace #coworking #creative #creativeindustries #design #designer #illustration #illustrator #femalecreatives #art #artist #author #nidesign #CQBelfast #plants #studio #plantstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy
Instagram post 2111617219678217269_295518986 Definitely another day for hiding away in the studio!
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#walktowork #belfast #lovebelfast #cathedralquarter #cqbelfast #ireland #northernireland #explorebelfast #explore #discoverni #trekkingni #niexplorer #travel #architecture #graffiti #wallart #art #artist #artwork #painting #design #creative #city #nidesign #cityscape #belfastcreatives #citylife #urban #loveireland #colour
Instagram post 2111149338196879600_295518986 Not long until the weekend now. Hope everyone’s having a great week so far!
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#belfast #lovebelfast #cathedralquarter #cqbelfast #northernireland #ireland #explorebelfast #discoverni #trekkingni #architecture #design #creative #city #nidesign #cityscape #belfastcreatives #citylife #urban #dukeofyork
Instagram post 2110923671513377902_295518986 Join us on the 5th of October as we team up with local illustrator Danni Gowdy for our first illustration workshop for children aged 5-9 years.
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Danni illustrated childrens book "Teach Your Giraffe to Ski" and is using this as the theme for the first workshop. Children will learn how to draw a skiing giraffe using a step by step guide, create fun and authentic backgrounds of ski slopes, trees , sun & clouds and learn how to choose colours and add finishing touches to bring their illustrations to life.
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The workshop costs £10 and it will be held on the 5th October at Blick Studios Malone road. For more information and to book a space, please visit https://www.blickstudios.org/events/blick-illustration-club-ages-5-9-years/
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#blickevents
#creative #childrenillustrations #creativeworkspace #community
Instagram post 2110198553879381203_295518986 There is something beautiful about the Malone Blick Studios on a rainy day. There is always beautiful light that inspires us to keep working on a rainy day like this!
Hope everyone can stay dry and cosy today!
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#blickstudios #creativeworkspace #belfast #creativestudios #creativestartups #light #beauty #inspiration
Instagram post 2109675099606476132_295518986 Beautiful light in our Hill Street studio this afternoon
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#cathedralquarter #belfast #cosy #northernireland #architecture #photography #photographer #interiordesign #belfastcreatives #explorebelfast #sharedworkspace #sharedstudio #workspace #coworking #creative #creativeindustries #design #nidesign #CQBelfast #plants #studio #plantstagram #plantsmakepeoplehappy
Instagram post 2108867157839736801_295518986 New Blog: 'Know Your Values' to help you create a successful creative business/career and the life you want (link in bio) #blickstudios #TOPTIPS #businessownerslife #businesstips
Instagram post 2108791789753680063_295518986 New Plants 🌱🌿😍 #blickstudios #blickmalone #plants #officeplants #succulents #creativespace #coworkingspace #sharedspace
Instagram post 2105885617497293892_295518986 The Cathedral Quarter looking beautiful, even on the greyest of days
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#walktowork #belfast #city #cathedralquarter #CQBelfast #northernireland #ireland #explore #cityscape #citylife #architecture #themerchanthotel #summer #belfastarchitecture #lovebelfast #explorebelfast #discoverni #niexplorer #VisitBelfast #BelfastCC
Instagram post 2105074809410188110_295518986 Beautiful bright start in Belfast this morning ☀️
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#walktowork #belfast #city #cathedralquarter #CQBelfast #northernireland #ireland #explore #cityscape #citylife #urban #architecture
Instagram post 2104592708105808549_295518986 Front row seats at this afternoon’s thunder and lightning storm up in our Hill Street mezzanine!
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#cathedralquarter #belfast #CQBelfast #northernireland #ireland #architecture #hillstreet #belfastcreatives #sharedworkspace #workspace #coworking #creative #nidesign #design #studio #cosy #studiospace #officeplants #plants #plantsmakepeoplehappy #thunderstorm
Instagram post 2100766901906416674_295518986 Hello August! ☀️
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#walktowork #belfast #lovebelfast #cathedralquarter #CQBelfast #ireland #northernireland #explore #travel #graffiti #wallart #art #artist #artwork #painting #design #creative #city #nidesign #cityscape #belfastcreatives #citylife #urban #loveireland #colour
Instagram post 2100111725943937463_295518986 Bit of a grey day in Belfast today, but nice and bright here in our Hill Street studio!
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#cathedralquarter #belfast #northernireland #architecture #photography #belfastcreatives #sharedworkspace #sharedstudio #workspace #coworking #creative #creativeindustries #design #designer #nidesign
Instagram post 2100055564540592714_295518986 Our next Blick Animation club workshop for kids 6-14 is on Saturday 28th September 2-4pm.
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The last sessions where almost booked out so don't miss your chance to book your tickets for any budding animators in your family. Tickets can be booked on our website https://www.blickstudios.org/events/blick-animation-club/
Instagram post 2099358049336010687_295518986 6 WEEKS TO GO!
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We are excited to announce Blick Academy Squarespace 4 Week course on the 11th September to the 2nd October in Blick Studios.
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The course will be lead by @two_digs_studio and he will be covering a range of different tips and information on how to build a Squarespace website.
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He speaks about what is needed on your website, and maintaining a strong visual consistency that represents your idea, business or concept for the world to see.
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If this sounds like something you would be interested in, check out our website for more information of what will be happening over the 4 Weeks! Spaces are starting to be booked up, so make sure you book your space and not miss out on this incredible course!  https://www.blickstudios.org/events/blick-academy-squarespace-course/
Instagram post 2096622020816412395_295518986 Blick team meeting with @emogada who is helping with events and marketing @gemmaoneill who is helping us with social media and bits and pieces in the Cathedral Quarter sadly minus @rosysjames who is off on maternity at the minute. Esther and Gemma are both also Blick residents so show the best bits of Blick and have a good understanding of Blick and the work we do. Such a joy to work with them both #blickstudios #blickteam #teamwork #collaboration #creatives #belfastcreatives
Instagram post 2094996131217319119_295518986 #MeetTheResidents
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We got to catch up with our Hill Street resident @gemmaoneill, who has also joined the Blick Team doing social media photographs for us in the Cathedral Quarter.
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They gave us a really lovely and honest interview about their work creative balance. Gemma is a great asset to the team and gave us a lovely interview. To read the full article, you can read it at https://www.blickstudios.org/meet-the-resident/meettheresident-gemma-oneill/
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Hope everyone is enjoying the sunshine and getting time to slow down and appreciate.
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Happy Wednesday!
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#blick #blickresidents #creativeworkspaces #belfast
Instagram post 2094944397136736605_295518986 Always something to see in Belfast! Love our walk to work. What does everyone else see on theirs?
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#walktowork #belfast #lovebelfast #cathedralquarter #cqbelfast #ireland #northernireland #explorebelfast #explore #discoverni #trekkingni #niexplorer #travel #architecture #graffiti #wallart #art #artist #artwork #painting #design #creative #city #nidesign #cityscape #belfastcreatives #citylife #urban #loveireland #colour
Instagram post 2094448922427985210_295518986 An afternoon spent tending to our office plants in our Malone studios. The perfect job for this weather when it's too nice to sit at your desk 🌱 #🌿 #officeplants #indoorplants #indoorgardening #procrastination #plants #plantsmakepeoplehappy #blickmalone #blickstudios #creativespace #creativeworkspace #coworkingspace
Instagram post 2094431994435189326_295518986 Lovely bright Tuesday in our Hill Street studio ☀️
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#cathedralquarter #belfast #northernireland #architecture #photography #belfastcreatives #sharedworkspace #sharedstudio #workspace #coworking #creative #creativeindustries #design #designer #nidesign
Instagram post 2093704590368527889_295518986 Hope everyone has had a good start to the week so far today!
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#belfast #lovebelfast #cathedralquarter #cqbelfast #ireland #northernireland #explorebelfast #discoverni #trekkingni #niexplorer #architecture #graffiti #wallart #art #artist #artwork #painting #design #creative #city #nidesign #cityscape #belfastcreatives #citylife #urban #loveireland #colour
Instagram post 2090784455693582266_295518986 So nice to have a chat with these two clever ladies today (@karishmasworld  @kyliekai) and hear more about their @atinyhistory project! Looking forward to their talk at @belfastprintworkshop on Tuesday too!
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#illustration #illustrator #design #designer #history #collaboration #storytelling #kyliechan #karishmakusurkar #karishmasworld #print #atinyhistory #belfast #ireland #northernireland #art #artist #sharedstudio #cathedralquarter #exlplorebelfast #blickstudios #femalecreatives
Instagram post 2090710596416052545_295518986 We are very excited for the continuous journey of Blick. It is always good to take a moment to reflect on how far you've come and now that we are in the last half of 2019, we are evaluating how to improve and reach our goals.
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Collaboration here at Blick is a vital part of our creative process and something that we advocate here in Belfast. In our blog ' 11 Year Lessons' we share our longstanding collaborative relationships with different creative individuals such as @seedheadarts for our Faculty Workshops, @creatingaspace for our Time is Now events, @infinitejestcomedy & @karishmakusurkar for our podcast @stbdpodcast , @shesaid_design for @womenfolk.co and many individuals and organisations for @belfastdesignwk .
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To read the full article on our website, visit https://www.blickstudios.org/blog-posts/11-year-lessons-blog-2/
Instagram post 2090677816336418969_295518986 Sun is shining and not the worst message to come across on the way to the studio this morning!
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#showsomelove #love #belfast  #lovebelfast #cathedralquarter #summer #sun #ireland #northernireland #city #cityscape #urban #graffiti #wallart #art #artist #artwork #design #belfastcreatives