Sunday Sessions: Meet Gillie and Marc
Posted on 12 August 2016
Gillie and Marc are new joiners to The Pommier family and they are our first artists and makers from down under.
Gillie and Marc have worked side by side for 25 years. The husband and wife team are Sydney-based contemporary artists who collaborate to create art as one. We're pretty excited to feature their creations and look forward to exploring the amazing talent Australia has to offer as a whole.
We caught of with Gillie & Marc to ask them a few insider questions about their journey together, how their designs have evolved and to also find out what they hope for next.
Let's jump straight in...
Company: Gillie and Marc
Name: Gillie and Marc Schattner
Tell us about your childhood
Gillie: I grew up in Lusaka, Zambia in Africa because my dad was working in finance there. Because I was a kid I just fell into things naturally – it was a very free life, where I ran around barefoot. I think my upbringing has made me embrace a free-spirited life full of adventure and these sentiments definitely come through in my work as an adult.
I also would draw pencil sketches of the wildlife in Zambia. Animals and conservation is an ongoing theme in our work too.
Marc: I’m from Melbourne, Australia but like Gillie, I’ve travelled a lot. I love Australia though because it’s the only place you find that unique Aussie humour. It doesn’t exist anywhere else and it features a lot in our work. Like Gillie, as a kid I was fascinated with animals. I frequently visited Melbourne Zoo with my father so I could paint all the animals there.
What was your first job out of school and how did you land that position?
Gillie: I got a job as a headhunter in Belgium because I spoke four languages. My mother is Dutch and my dad is English and I also learnt French and German at school. Our iconic animal/hybrid characters Dogman and Rabbitgirl are also very international and real globetrotters.
How did you two meet?
Marc: We first met in Hong Kong. Gillie was a nurse from England and I was a boy from the ‘burbs’ of Melbourne. Even though we were both engaged to other people, we instantly realised we were soulmates, someone to start a journey encompassing our mutual love for art and adventure. Seven days later we were married in the foothills of Mount Everest. We recently celebrated a beautiful 25-year anniversary in the stunning backdrop of the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia.
Can you tell us about Dogman and Rabbitgirl?
Marc: The concept of Dogman and Rabbitgirl originated on a family trip to Egypt. Theriocephaly (meaning beast head) is the ancient Egyptian art practice of putting an animal head on the body of a human. It was believed the human would evoke the qualities of the animal. Whenever we were down we would look to our dog whose unconditional love and happiness is so infectious. So we made a few sculptures and paintings of Dogman but after a while we felt like he deserved a partner so Dogman and Rabbitgirl became our alter egos. In the wild, dogs hunt and kill rabbits, but in this world the rules are discarded and new possibilities open up. The dog and the rabbit are best friends and soulmates.
Your range also includes Deerman. What was the inspiration behind that?
Gillie: During a hike in the Grand Canyon, we saw a wild deer and loved its commanding, vulnerable and graceful nature — think two stags locking their antlers to battle for a doe’s attention while spending their lives balanced on spindly ankles, leaping around like ballerinas. Dogman and Rabbitgirl are best friends but their hearts are so big and they have so much love to give that Deerman has now become one of their most treasured friends, so we had to make a pendant of him.
When did you realise you wanted to make accessories?
Gillie: I’ve always rebelled from traditional jewellery and wanted to be different. And I’ve always loved silver. It’s just such a beautiful metal and like bronze, you can do so much with it and be quite creative.
What was the first piece you ever made? How have your designs evolved since then?
Gillie: Our first piece was a Dogman pendant. We have been making sculptures of Dogman for over five years now in a variety of materials such as bronze, polyresin and fibreglass so art wear just felt like a natural progression.
While I love when homes and offices are full of interesting or thought-provoking artworks, we thought, “Imagine if we could wear our art, so close to our souls that we end up embodying its beauty and meaning.” I couldn’t wait to experiment with sterling silver.
Can you still remember selling your first item you made? How did you feel?
Gillie: I first made a piece for myself and my daughter Jessie and we would just wear it around the studio. People would comment on it all the time from baristas to friends. So we took some photos and put it on our social media channels and straightaway we had interest and demand. We couldn’t make it fast enough. It was one of the best feelings in the world.
Other than your own, what is your most prized accessory and why?
Gillie: A beautiful sterling silver ring that Marc bought for me. I love it because it’s from him but also something I would never have thought to buy for myself. I’ll cherish it forever.
Take us through your "typical" day at the workshop/studio/office…
Gillie: We’re in the studio bright and early at 8am and then out the door at 5pm. There are always emails and admin to do and we have to make sure to schedule time in to paint, or design otherwise it’s easy to get bogged down with admin. We have a WIP every morning to go over our priorities for the day. Lunchtime I usually head to the gym because it’s so great for my mental health and being creative in the afternoons.
If you could see any person in the world wearing your designs, who would it be and why?
Gillie: I would be so happy if Kim Kardashian wore my art jewellery. She has a huge audience and is just so beautiful.
Who is an influence on your work?
Marc: We draw a huge amount of inspiration from Andy Warhol. He started off working in advertising which was our background too. Then when he did start making art he wasn’t defined by any medium – he threw himself into film, painting, performance art … anything really. We also love that he worked outside of the traditional art societies and expectations. He was constantly being criticized by how prolific he was with his work. And like us, his goal was to make his art accessible, relevant and popular which started the pop art movement.
Gillie: I also love Oscar Wilde’s quote, “One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art.”
If you could reach a huge milestone for your brand in the next year, what would it be?
Gillie: We are going to expand the range and explore more complicated designs. Making artwork you can wear is just so special! It makes me so excited thinking about it.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Gillie: If you put your mind to it, you can do anything …
Where is your favourite place in the world?
Marc: New York. We lived there for five years. Every summer we would spend lazy Saturday afternoons boating in the lakes all across New York. It was the most relaxing way to explore one of the world’s most frenetic cities. During the New York winter, I also found an old-fashioned sleigh and would take the family for toboggan rides. Our daughter, Jessie, would literally spend hours on the sleigh in the snow. Gillie, however, really feels the cold.
Gillie: Yes, even though I’m English, my African upbringing has made me sensitive to cold weather. I loved New York too though. But I’m happy with my life here in Sydney now.
What would we find in your bag right now?
Gillie: Rubbish and mess. I’m always on the go and things just end up in there. The rest of my space is pretty clean and organised though. I loved Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s very liberating to be free of clutter! And it makes more room for beautiful artworks instead.
What item can you not live without and why?
Gillie: Lip gloss. It’s a perfect pick-me-up!
What’s the biggest daily challenge running your own business?
Marc: Too many ideas, too little time …
Sum up your personality up in 3 words?
Gillie: Loving, creative and sensitive.
Describe your perfect weekend…
Marc: I like to incorporate art and creativity into my days 24/7. I don’t really switch off whether I’m going to art galleries or reading art blogs.
Gillie: I see my children as my best friends so I love catching up with them. Our beautiful fur baby Indie the Weimaraner needs a lot of walking. It can be hard to get out of the house sometimes, especially during winter, but once we’re out in the fresh air we both love it.