— by Samantha Weinraub

Illustration major Gabi Ellis '24 has gotten a taste of the working life of an artist—she designs beer can labels for Naked Brewing Company of Huntingdon Valley, PA. She talked with Communications Associate Samantha Weinraub.

How did you get connected with Naked Brewing Company?  

Naked Brewing Company is partially owned by Shawn Dulee, who is my best friend Hannah Dulee's mother. Hannah and I became friends the first week of our freshman year of high school in art class. The Dulees are like a second family to me. Shawn and Hannah saw my art develop from high school until I finally made it to Moore. I had done a few art commissions for the brewery.  Last summer, Shawn, with then new head-brewer Hannah Ghode, decided they wanted to start canning their beers and selling them because of how hard they were hit during COVID. They liked the vibe of my art and felt it fit with their mission at Naked. They particularly liked a pastel portrait piece that I had created in AP Art for both my national portfolio and included in my portfolio that I submitted to Moore. That specific piece was also the favorite of my admissions counselor and what got me into Moore and the various advanced programs I was able to be a part of. That same piece also ended up becoming the label art of one of the most popular series at Naked. Needless to say, it’s important to me.

Right: Gabi Ellis '24

How did you get started in illustration? Why did you choose Moore College of Art & Design? 

I have always kind of liked doing "artsy" things like drawing, crafts, hair, makeup, anything like that, all my life. I have always been drawn to creating visually. I really started "drawing" when I was 11 years old and I would draw my favorite movie and TV characters, especially anything from My Little Pony and the movie Balto. My grandmother gave me an old binder to put all my drawings in and I actually still have it. I started really taking art seriously in high school but didn’t decide I wanted to do it as a career until I was around 16. I chose illustration as a major because it was almost a middle ground for my goals and what I want to do, and when I think about styles I like and feel inspired by, most of it comes from illustration. I also chose Moore because it ended up being a middle ground that was perfect for my current situation. I actually didn't apply to any other school. Moore has the exact major and minor curriculum I wanted, in a location I wanted and am familiar with, and is the level of difficulty I am happy to be at. Moore also offered the Visionary Woman Honors Program with a leadership track, which also just was right for me.

What is your favorite thing about the Illustration program at Moore?

I love the environment of Moore and how experienced all the professors are. The environment is something I've never experienced before. It is a place where I know I can grow and flourish. As for my illustration (and fashion design professors because I am working toward a fashion minor), they are extremely experienced in their fields and know what they're doing. I respect them and they respect me.

Have you always known that you've wanted to be an illustrator? What do you hope to illustrate in the future? 

I actually had no idea what I wanted to do until I had to apply for colleges. I never really saw myself in the art field (and I think that is the fault of the stigma against careers in art), but I couldn't really see myself anywhere else. I think what made me decide is that I know this is what I was good at and it's what made me happy. My initial goal was to eventually become an art director one day for a big project, but I am in no rush and am willing to see where this takes me. I really do enjoy comics and media like it, so I would be happy to work in something around that.

Have your perspectives on illustration and art changed as you've attended college and you're also working?

I've definitely become more informed about the art field. Getting an education in illustration while also working in it definitely gives me a different perspective than some of my peers. It’s a lot of communication and collaboration, so I'm glad to be building those skills on top of my technical skills while I'm still in school.

What is your artistic style like, and where do you find influences? 

I take inspiration in the weirdest of things. Some of my friends have called me out on this, but I take a LOT of pictures of the world around me and screenshots online. I could be walking to a store with my friends down Chestnut Street and I would stop to take a picture of a window because I thought it looked cool. The same sentiment goes for online as well. I save and take screen shots of any artwork or photograph I feel inspired by. It could be a figure, an outfit, an aesthetic, anything, really.  

Something I am constantly inspired by are artists Gabriel Picolo, Anthony Brault and Elentori online. I have loved and followed their art for years and would love to create something like they do someday. I am also inspired by The Legend of Zelda, especially Breath of the Wild. That game means a lot to me and the artwork and concept behind it are so stunning.  

Are you from Pennsylvania, and does this part of the region influence your style of art at all?

I am not originally from Pennsylvania. I was born in Tucson, AZ, and lived there until I was 12. I then moved to Eau Claire, WI, and lived there until I was 14, and then finally moved to Pennsylvania and have been living here ever since. Over the past four years, I have made it a priority to travel. I have been to around 20 states, with some of my favorite places I've visited being New Orleans and Salem, MA. I love traveling and it makes me happy like nothing else does. I love experiencing the world around me and getting to learn about different places and cultures and being able to be a part of them. I think traveling has changed me a lot as a person and I'm really grateful I have been able to go to so many places.

Read more about Ellis and her work.