Q&A | Gab Bois

by Morgan Vickery

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Gab Bois is the Montreal-based visual artist crafting concept-oriented content on Instagram. The ex-art student romanticizes her playful relationship with hype culture, as it remains a prominent theme in her imagery. Her body acts a canvas for unusual and sometimes uncomfortable media in hopes of challenging traditional photography standards. This Gemini moves in silence but has a bright path ahead in the future of arts and photography.

Tell us about yourself.

Hmmmm let’s see. I was born and raised as an only child in the icy cold Montreal, Quebec. I’m a Gemini. I do the majority of my work by myself in the comfort of my home. I love spending time alone, working alone, spending the night in by myself, not in a serial killer kind of way, I just enjoy my own company. Other than that, I’m a great multitasker and I always try to keep very busy.

During your creative process, where do most of your inspirations come from?

I like to work with current and relatable themes. For instance, I have a lot of fun playing with hype culture as a recurrent theme in my imagery. A lot of the time, my ideas come from inanimate objects I’ve seen thousands of times but for some reason, I’ll see in a different light. Some of the subjects I love working with are food, clothing and tech objects. There’s also the part where I consume a lot of media myself, whether it’s through television, social media or in a physical form, so that’s also a source of inspiration.

What’s one of your favorite images to date?

I have great memories associated with this image of a book made out of Kraft singles.

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I was hanging out with my dad one day, talking about this idea with him and he just said "Ok, let’s do it now". So I organized the lettering and pages and he came back with a hard cover he made out of one of his sketchbook covers. Being my own model most of the time, my creative process can get very lonely. Inviting my dad, who has such a creative influence on me, felt really good. 

In your opinion, how have social platforms like Instagram revolutionized media and the way it’s observed?

I can only talk about Instagram because I haven’t actually used any other social media to display my work. I think it’s had its pros and cons. For instance when I first started to use IG to showcase my photography at the end of 2016, the platform wasn’t so focused on getting people to pay for ads. At that point in time it was a lot easier to reach people in a relatively organic way. I think now people are starting to get upset at the fact that the platform is trying to fill the space with more and more advertising.

While being one of, if not the most important social media platform for visual creatives to showcase their work, it’s also one that doesn’t pay creators a cent for their likes/reach/etc. This differs from most music or video apps, like Youtube, Spotify and Apple Music which people can actually get paid from. So I think that’s something that really lacks on Instagram because not only do they not reward their users but they make them pay to be able to show their posts to all of their followers, who signed up to see their content in the first place.

I’m not denying that Instagram has played a huge role in the diffusion of my work and I am so grateful for the amazing community of people that support me and my work. However, that doesn’t change the fact that I’m getting frustrated with the changes that are made because I can compare to how it was before, and none of these changes are benefitting artists.

What do you hope viewers take away from your work?

I have a very specific take on my own work and I’m always happy to discuss it when people ask questions. However, I really enjoy talking with viewers who had a completely different takeaway than my own because it brings a fresh perspective, and it challenges my own views. Sometimes, after spending hours coming up with a concept, bringing it to life and editing, it’s hard to take a step back and look at it from an outside perspective. So I always enjoy getting feedback from people that saw it from a different angle.

So I guess there’s really nothing specific I’d wish people would think or feel when looking at my work. I’m okay with just knowing that a specific idea that spoke to me can speak to other people too. 

How have you evolved as a visual artist since you first began?

I was really into Tumblr in high school and would spend hours and hours on it trying to curate the perfect mood boards. It was only years later that I started to imagine creating images that could be featured in these mood boards. I would take pictures directly inspired from a specific aesthetic or from photographers I loved and add my personal twist to them. 

After a while, I was confident enough to start building my own style and make my own ideas come to life. Then some of my work went viral. Within a year I had grown an online following of over 50 000 people. These numbers don’t define anything but they do come with lots of opportunities and responsibilities. 

With the help of key people in my life, I got my stuff in order and started creating work with more of a business aspect in the back of my mind. That didn’t really work for me. The ideas weren’t as intuitive and organic as they were before. Now for the past months I’ve been working on finding a comfortable balance between complete creative freedom and still wanting to make an income with my photography.

There’s still so much for me to learn but I’m so thankful for the past two years, even with how uncomfortable some of those times were, because they’ve made me grow so much not only as an artist but as a person (cheesy, I know, but very accurate).

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What can we expect from you in 2019?

I have a lot on my plate for 2019. I’m one of those people who swears by vision boards and to-do lists and I can tell you they are at max capacity right now. I’m starting to realize how much I prefer moving in silence when it comes to career milestones so I’d rather not give it all away. All I can say is you haven’t seen the last of me.