Creative of the Month: Gabrielle Kannemeyer
Words by Naledi Sibisi
Gabrielle Kannemeyer is a Creative Director, Photographer, Stylist and Producer. The Cape Town based creative specializes in fine art and photography. Her art direction characterized by cultural trends and a cunning way of merging colours and textures. Today, Kannemeyer has worked with a number of local veterans and on international campaigns including: Rich Mnisi, Yardley, Castle Lite, Adidas and Levis G-Star to name a few. “I really didn't expect to be here! I intended to focus on fine art and pursue a career within that world. The journey has not been planned at all; none of it has been neat and tidy either. I have hustled to get here and will continue to walk the path my life choices and hard work carve out for me”
She tells me that she began her journey working her way into the industry following her first year of studies at Michaelis School of Fine Art where she majored in photography. “That’s where I started styling and assisting other photographers while producing shoots to make money to pay for my studies and accommodation”. Kannemeyer goes on to describe her visual style as clean and sculptural. “I strive to make the subject the absolute focal point when I compose my images”. On some of the challenges she has faced and continues to face in her line of work, she expresses that the execution of creative work and trust is a major factor. “It is very difficult to get one's creative projects off the ground in the beginning as one often lacks experience, money and a strong team. As I've progressed in my career, I no longer struggle to build amazing teams. Now, I struggle to find time to execute all the ideas in my mind. Trust is a big one, it took me a long time to realize that as an artist, you need to protect your intellectual property”.
Her work is now recognizable both locally and internationally. To top that, she was recently afforded the opportunity to shoot a campaign in Cuba. Kannemeyer cites this as one of her career highlights. “It definitely changed my whole perspective on my life and career path. Every shoot I have executed over the past year has actually been a career highlight. It took a long time (ten years) for me to be brave enough to pick up my camera again. Every time I shoot, it's a small victory”. While the journey has been a long one, it has also been most rewarding and she feels as though she wouldn’t do anything differently if presented the opportunity. “Every failure and every success has taught me an invaluable lesson. Even though failure or disappointing oneself is a difficult pill to swallow, it is a necessary part of the journey that inevitably makes one stronger”.
We then chat briefly about her respective field and what someone would need to know upon entering the world of art direction. Assistance is definitely one of the biggest aspects in her line of work. “I have heard of (and worked with) photographers who have had absolutely no idea how to light their images on set with clients present on set”, she continues, “they also did not know how to process their images through processing programs. As a result, they had to have their assistants teach them in front of said clients and crew members. I find it quite insulting to be honest. There are so many amazing artists that have put the time in to learn their craft, but unfortunately, due to the way things work in the industry, they lack access, a silver forked tongue and 'influencer' status”. On that same note she mentions that professionalism should never be compromised. “Just because your work environment is not considered to be conventional, it does not mean that your professionalism should be affected”.
When it comes to the best campaign she has worked on to date, she references the Daily Paper SS18 Campaign she shot alongside stylist and designer, Beri Dalgali. “I'm very particular about the sets I work on. I require the sets to be safe and healthy work spaces where artists can express themselves. This set was really enlightening”.
Kannemeyer’s plans for the year, like many, are extremely personal and prioritize self-love. While many successful projects were executed on her behalf in the last year, she does feel a profound sense of losing herself along the way by not setting certain boundaries, “I am going to be kinder, gentler, and more understanding with myself. I plan on looking after my mental health and nurturing my businesses. Those are my plans. 2019 is my year”.