Once you’re done reading Blake’s interview, be sure to check out Blake’s video tutorial on how to draw a tiny tree on our YouTube channel!
Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Blake Gore, and I’m a miniature pen and ink artist based in Virginia. You could say I’m a professional squinter.
Why do you do what you do?
Often drawing inside only an inch or two, I’m inspired by the challenge to create more while consuming less. My miniature art demonstrates how constraints can enhance creativity while encouraging a more sustainable experience for the earth, the artist, and art lovers alike.
What inspires your art?
I draw inspiration from almost anything. I’m insatiably curious, and I’ve often said that if something is around me long enough, I’m probably going to draw it. That said, I have a special affinity for independent bookstores, trees, and architecture.
How and when did you get into art?
Very recently and unexpectedly. My only formal art training was in a class in 10th grade, and I’ve never been much of a doodler. However, my creativity has come out in other ways over the years during my career as a mental health therapist, career coach, and university instructor. Then, in my late 30s, I saw a drawing challenge circulating on Twitter that asked participants to draw and share a 1”x1” sketch every day for a month. I really enjoyed it, met a lot of interesting people in the process, and people soon began asking if I sold my art. The rest is history.
How has your practice changed over time?
Over the four years I’ve been drawing, I like to think I’m in constant search for new techniques, tools, canvases, and inspiration. For example, I love Strathmore’s Bristol paper, but I’ve also been known to draw on acorns, leaves, candy wrappers, and tea bag tags. I’m a big believer in lifelong learning, and given that I started a lot later in life than most artists, I feel like this is even more important for me.
Your work is so tiny and intricate! How are you able to create such small details?
Slowly! Haha. I learned early in my career that speed is never going to be a strength of mine, so I need to lean toward my natural inclination toward detail. The miniature scale helps me get the most out of my hand control and obsession with detail without bogging me down in a piece that would take me months or years to complete at a larger scale. And, as for magnification, I don’t use any…yet. At my age, I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes soon.
What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why
They’re all so important to me, but I think my current favorite might be my miniature study of Rembrandt’s “Storm on the Sea of Galilee.” In addition to being a beautiful painting of a beautiful story, the fact that his original has been missing since 1990 makes for a compelling subject. I guess we’ll just have to settle for my tiny version until the real deal is hopefully recovered one day!
What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?
“We all have 10,000 bad drawings in us. The sooner we get them out, the better.” ― Walt Stanchfield
What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?
When drawing in pen and ink, don’t skip a detailed undrawing in pencil. It’s worth the time and energy to capture a well-conceived idea with graphite before committing to ink.
Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?
Honestly, I focus more on salvaging my time, as it’s much more precious than my art. If I know for certain that a piece is beyond saving (which is admittedly not always easy to determine), I trash it ASAP and immediately start something new. I never want to end a drawing session without preserving my momentum.
What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?
My go-to is 300 Series Bristol Smooth. It’s perfect for what I do.
What art materials could you not live without?
Tiny, tiny pen nibs! My favorite pen has a .15mm tip.
What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?
I’m all over the place on this one. I do a good deal of blackwork in pen ink; however, I also bring a lot of color to the table when it’s appropriate. It all depends on the subject.
Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?
I think Albrecht Dürer’s woodcut prints are unrivaled, and even though they make me feel woefully inferior, I learn so much by studying his work.
What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?
“Do you use magnification?” Nope, but I do need my glasses to drive!
Website/social media links:
Instagram: @blakegore (www.instagram.com/blakegore/)
Twitter: @B1akeGore (www.twitter.com/B1akeGore)
Facebook: @blakegoredesign (www.facebook.com/blakegoredesign)
TikTok: @draweroftinystuff (www.tiktok.com/@draweroftinystuff)