Interview with Artist – Myra Sjöberg

Interview with Artist – Myra Sjöberg
Myra Sjöberg - Artist
Myra Sjöberg – Artist

Meet Myra Sjöberg the 29-year old Danish born artist who grew up in an artistic family. Her father, a Danish glassblower, is the owner of a shop in Denmark and mother is Swedish with a degree in fashion and tailoring. Myra lived in a town called Skagen which is located in the North of Denmark where two oceans meet. She described nature up there as really gorgeous and peaceful, a perfect place to raise a family; she thinks that’s the main reason that her parents decided to move up there was to raise her and an older brother.

Being  exposed to a lots of imagination and creativity from a very early age helped develop her artistic skills such as drawing. Myra was always surrounded by her parents’ artistic friends, one whom later became her first art teacher.

From her drawings and sketches you can see the evolution on her work as an artist over the years. Her themes are mysterious and intimately beautiful with a soft touch of darkness through fine details, surprising us in each of her paintings.

For about 5 years, Myra now lives and works in Malmö, Sweden. It’s a relatively small city, close to Copenhagen where most of her exhibitions are displayed.

So enjoy this exclusive interview with this amazing artist and person. She shares her dreams, inspirations and thoughts. And please visit Myra Sjöberg official website.

RH: You are a self-taught artist; describe to us when you received your first calling as an artist?

MS: When I was 21 I attended an artschool in Denmark and it was there that I painted my very first oil painting. I had previously mostly worked with water colour – so this was a whole new medium for me, and I fell in love instantly. Working with oil colour came very natural to me and that first experience really made me want to be an artist.
The reason why I fell in love with painting is because of the magic you can create with texture and dimension. I love making something on a flat surface come to life – it makes me feel as if I’m some sort of Doctor Frankenstein.

RH: What did you draw/sketch or paint for the first time?

MS: My first oil painting was an impressionistic piece called Phinneas. It is a dark painting with an androgynous figure surrounded by a plume of feathers. I painted it in one night, so it was a very intense and awesome experience which really made me want to become an artist.

RH: How do the teachings of Carl Jung influence you in your art?

MS: I am very inspired by Carl Jungs theories about the collective unconscious, archetypes and how we can gain knowledge about ourselves from the symbols in our dreams.
The collective unconscious is different from the individual unconscious in that it is something passed down to us that can’t be explained by social heritage. It consists of pre-existing forms known as archetypes. I try to use these archetypes in my paintings, such as my fairytale series. I believe that when I use characters or archetypes which resonate in the collective unconscious it makes my artwork more relate-able to other people.
My art is very much derived from my own subconsciousness, I find that my best work is always based on instinct and I try not to over-think my ideas because it almost always makes them seem one dimensional and uninspired.

Fairytale series by Myra Sjöberg
Fairytale series by Myra Sjöberg

RH: Inspired by Sci-Fi, Fantasy and comic books, how did you apply these genres in your artwork?

MS: I work in a sci-fi and fantasy bookstore in Malmö and have always been very inspired by these genres. My favorite books growing up was The Lord of the Rings I read those books again and again. Tolkien was an expert at creating believable worlds that you could immerse yourself in completely and his descriptions of his world Middle Earth always painted such amazing pictures in my mind. I hope to one day be able to illustrate those books myself. All in all I guess it’s the world building within these genres that really inspires me.

RH: Do you have any favorite Sci-Fi comic books and movies – why?

MS: In science fiction you get to travel to the future or the past or far far away to another galaxy. The visuals of science fiction are so sublime, Blade Runner is a personal favorite of mine. I think it is the combination of film noir, futurism and oriental culture that really appeals to me, there’s such a nostalgic mood to the film.
China Mieville is another author I really like – I have only read a few of his books so far, but my boyfriend tells me that we share very similar ideas, i.e. I made an amazone warrior whose armor is made of her own blood – apparently such warriors can also be found in Mieville’s book The Scar. Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman also come to mind – they both have a very poetic and yet simple and elegant language and I love the moods and emotions that their writing evokes in me. My fairytale paintings (which were my first series of paintings and exhibition) was very much inspired by both of these authors.Horror is another genre that I’m very inspired by, I really love the visuals and the balance between the beautiful and the grotesque. The filmmaker David Lynch is also one of my sources of inspiration and I love old black and white cinema such as The Cabinet of Dr Caligari and Metropolis. And last but not least I love comic books. My personal guru is Alan Moore, writer of Watchmen, V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Miracle Man and many more amazing books. His ideas and storytelling have really inspired me to make my own comic book, and I am currently in a collaboration with a writer about doing just that.

RH: You attended just one year of art school at Kunsthöjskolen Thorstedlund in Denmark; why did you stop?

MS: I attended Kunsthöjskolen Thorstedlund right after high school. I needed some time and some breathing room to figure out what I wanted to do with my life and höjskoler in Denmark is a great way to do that. It’s not really a formal education but more of a one year course in whatever you find interesting. I chose a school that had some great art programs and I had a really wonderful time. It was a great way to take a breather and explore whatever artistic interests I had to a more full extent. I met a lot of great people and teachers and decided to extend my stay from 6 months to a full year.

RH: How do you select your favorite subjects?

MS: I draw on my inspiration from my interests in litterature, cinema and history. For instance, my latest series started with my fascination of werewolves – in particular female werewolves – from there I start collecting inspiration, books, movies and whatever else I can find.
I was very interested with the werewolf as a symbol of female strength which at the same time differs from the popular ideals of beauty and feminine qualities. I wanted to make a series of paintings which empowered women and showed the connection between the woman and the wolf.
The space that I’m going to exhibit in is just one small room, so this was something I had to take into consideration. I slowly started to evolve my idea into an exploration of the links between spirituality and nature. In this way, one idea became another – which is something that is often necessary when you work creatively. But I’m sure I will get to do my female werewolf series soon, as of now part of that idea is incorporated into the other.
As I’ve mentioned before I work primarily from my instincts and my subconscious. Whenever I begin a series of paintings it’s usually from a stream of consciousness. I’ll find a subject matter that interests me and the original idea will always expand.

RH: How do you define art?

MS: Oscar Wilde said it perfectly in the preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray:
“The artist is the creator of beautiful things. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely. All art is quite useless.”
In my opinion art is not something we as a species need to survive but it is something that makes life worth living. A great civilization should be judged not only on how it treats it’s citizens but also on the significance that it places on artistic expression. Art is the voice of the people, it is a Litmus test indicating whatever is going on in society and an expression of the human state of being.

RH: Who did you admire most when you started painting? And now? Are there any artist whose work you enjoy today?

MS: When I was younger the first painters that I gravitated towards were Frida Kahlo, Kandinsky, John Waterhouse, Nicholas Kalmakoff, Gaudi, Chagall and the Swedish illustrator John Bauer. I still love all of these artists but now I also love Egon Schiele, Vermeer, Frank Frazetta, Milo Manara, Enki Bilal, Moebius, Georg Gudni, Dave Mckean, Arthur Rackham, Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, Louise Bourgeois, Jackson Pollock , James Jean and Filmmakers such as David Lynch, Sally Potter, Jane Champion, Quentin Tarrantino, Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick and Jim Jarmusch.
I consider my work to be very cinematic and I love working with the illusion that my paintings are on the verge of coming to life – I think this trait in particular is inspired by my love of cinema and the theater.

RH: Tell us about your workspace and your creative process? Does it matter where you live as an artist?

MS: Right now I live and work in Malmö, Sweden. I share a studio space in a basement with 7 other artists. I don’t have a lot of space, but I’m very fortunate that the rent is very affordable. The company that owns our apartment building have started a great project in which they create studios for local artists in empty locales in their buildings around town. Of course I often wish that I had more space to create some of my bigger paintings, but it’s really great to have a studio either way, because it’s a place away from home where I’m not distracted by everyday trivialities and where I’m able to meet and work alongside other creative people. I don’t think that you need to have a studio in order to be creative. Having restrictions can often force you to find creative solutions to problems. But at the same time I feel that I’m constantly growing and evolving as an artist and part of that process is figuring out how I work in the most optimal way. Having a studio has certainly helped me become more focused and I like the idea of ‘going to work’ every day.

Pippalicious Fairytale series continue by Myra Sjöberg
Pippalicious – Fairytale series continue by Myra Sjöberg

RH: What are the best and the worst part of being a full time, working artist?

MS: The absolute best part of being a full time artist is that I have full control about how I want to plan my workday and what I want to create. I love the process of beginning a new project or working on an exhibition – the feeling that the work is all mine and that I don’t have to take anyone else’s opinion into consideration is both a wonderfully fulfilling and very liberating experience but it also means that I’m fully responsible for the work process and if I don’t meet a deadline or live up to my own expectations there is no one to blame but myself.

RH: What other interest do you have outside of art? And what dreams do you still wish to fulfill?

MS: My dream has always only been to become a respected artist among my peers and to hopefully be able to make a living doing what I love. I have a few goals that I’m working on making a reality such as creating a comic book, illustrating a children’s book and maybe even becoming a writer one day. I’d also love doing an exhibition abroad and I definitely want to travel more. I think it’s important to have goals and dreams – but I think it’s even more important to try to make them into a reality.

RH: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned along the way? And what’s been your best decision?

MS: The best lesson I’ve learned along the way is that every moment is a new beginning and also to trust my gut instinct. Working as an artist means being in a state of constant fragility because the work you do is so closely connected to your confidence and sense of self worth at the same time it’s very fulfilling work that lets you grow as a person in a very spiritual way. I try to focus on this part of the process and not so much the end result of my creative endeavors – it’s all about the journey, not the destination. My best decision has definitely been to start taking myself seriously as an artist. The big change came when I quit my full time restaurant job and started calling myself an artist instead of a ‘waitress who loved painting’.

Call of the Wild by Myra Sjöberg
Call of the Wild by Myra Sjöberg

RH: What are your goals as an artist? How do you see yourself progressing? Or does this matter?

MS: My goal as an artist is simply to keep evolving and growing with my work. I used to have aspirations of being a famous artist but now it’s more than enough to simply enjoy my creative process and to be able to create without the added pressure that my work has to sell. I’ve always felt that as long as I’m in love with what I do – then someone, somewhere out must feel the same way and appreciate my passion and the beauty and truth in my work.

RH: Which five words best describe you?

MS: Creative, dreamer, shy, stubborn, silly.

RH: Are there any new or upcoming project(s) you are working on that you’d like to share with us?

MS: At the moment I’m working on several projects, one is a comic book, another is a children’s book, then there’s a huge mural that I’m doing together with another artist from my studio. My next big series will most likely be an exploration of female goddesses and how all religion stems from the same archetypes. Also I might do another female werewolf inspired series.

RH: Are there any other thoughts or anything else you would like to share?

MS: I think art today is a very relative term. You can argue that anything is art, if you are using the right arguments and have a way with words. In my opinion there is nothing wrong with this.
The real question is; what is good art and what is not. The only person who can really answer this is oneself.
The only purpose that I have as an artist is to communicate my own truth and learn and grow in this constant stream of thought and revelation. Hopefully my artwork becomes a kind of mirror that people can see something of themselves in and we can share this journey of discovery and wonder.

Portrait by Myra Sjöberg
Portrait by Myra Sjöberg
Drawings/sketchers series Myra Sjöberg
Drawings/sketchers series Myra Sjöberg

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.

Interview: British Fashion Designer Charlie May

Interview: British Fashion Designer Charlie May

Meet Charlie May the 24 year-old London based designer. She graduated from the University of the West of England in 2010 with a BA (hons) in Fashion Design, and achieved her London Fashion Week debut with her own label at such a young age. Presenting her first full Spring-Summer 2012 women’s ready-to-wear collection. Ms. May’s designs are a reflection of her passion for fashion which she combines with minimalism, precise interesting tailoring and impeccable finishing to clothing. In addition, her designs are freshly charming with simple silhouettes that slip on your body with elegance.

To learn more about Charlie May, please visit her official website. And her clothing line can exclusively be purchased at BENGT.

RH: You were born and raised on a farm in the South West of England. How did you manage to make the transition to fashion designer esp. at such a young age?
CM: I was totally unaware of fashion until college, I loved shoes and was planning to open a shoe shop, so started a business course. It was then I started getting into Riot Grrl music and DIYing my clothes, I very quickly realised I needed to switch to Art & Design, specialising in Fashion and fell more and more in love!

RH: Tell us about your design process from beginning to end and what is a typical day for you?
CM: My day really varies depending on the stage of the season! The design process for a collection starts usually in the middle of creating the last one; I think about it a lot, the colour palette, the fabrics, the whole mood, and then about 3 months before fashion week and start designing and buying the fabrics. The fabrics then need to be dyed, I toile for a couple of months until the garments are spot on and then start working with my seamstress. The original design sheet usually ends up quite different as I chop and change a lot as I go on, the styling is also changed around before the presentation.

RH: How do you select your fabrics, before or after you draw your collection? And what you look for when choosing a fabric?
CM: I love using naturals fabrics; silks, wools and leathers are my favourite! I’ll loosely design the collection, then buy the fabrics and re draw, letting the newly bought fabrics inspire the designing. As soon as I feel the fabric, I know the purpose they should have.

RH: What does fashion mean to you? And do you have any other passions besides fashion?
CM: Fashion is all about design to me personally. A garment that makes you ask how it was made and the story behind it. My other passions are travel and photography which I share through my blog Girl a la Mode.

RH: What part of your job do you like the best? and Least?
CM: Seeing your garments being worn and loved is the absolute best feeling in the world! Also seeing them in editorials in a completely different context is a great feeling. I dislike the struggle for funding; as creating a collection is a huge money vacuum, but that is to be expected.

Spring-Summer 2012

RH: Do you remember your very first sale?
CH: Yes of course! I got an overwhelming response for the gold studded pony skin headbands from SS12 which I saw being worn around London fashion week!

RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?
CH: Work hard for what you want.

RH: What 5 words would best describe your brand?
CM: Minimal, clean, textured, androgynous and effortless,

RH: How would you define your style? If you could give women a fashion tip(s) to be fabulous, what would it be?
CM: Quite minimal and clean but tailored as well. I believe a woman looks more chic when she is comfortable with herself so don’t choose shoes you can’t walk in or a skirt that’s too short because it will show. Just be comfortable with who you are!

RH: Who would you most like to see wearing your clothes?
CM: Tilda Swinton!

 

Autumn-Winter 2012

RH: Who is your style icon(s) and why?
CM: I take a lot of style inspiration from bloggers; here are some of my favourites – Ivania of Love Aesthetics, Jayne of Stop It Right Now, Josefin of Fashion Sphere

RH: What are your goals with your brand? How do you see yourself progressing?
CM: I hope to show on schedule at fashion week and be selling in boutiques worldwide, when I get there, I’ll be happy.

RH: Do you have any any hidden or unusual talents?
CM: I can bend my arms back pretty far, I guess that’s just a talent for creeping people out.

RH: What’s your favorite getaway spot? And where would you like to live other than London?
CM: I love to getaway to my hometown in Devon, on the farm and in the countryside, it’s my happy place! I wouldn’t want to live in London forever, but I wouldn’t want to go back to Devon either; I’ll have to do some more traveling to find out.

RH:  Is there anything you’d like to share with us about upcoming project(s)?
CM: Nothing I can talk about yet but watch this space for some exciting collaborations!

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.

Interview with Musician: Dmitry Nechaev

Interview with Musician: Dmitry Nechaev

Dmitry Nechaev is a musician based in Moscow, Russia who started his career working as a professional model since he was 11 years old. It all started by participating in photos sessions for the world’s leading fashion magazines, being featured in TV adverts and mastering the runway. In a short period of time, Dmitry gained the status of an international model in Russia and Europe.

Today it’s such a pleasure for me to introduce this 24-year old musician who conquered a vast audience worldwide with his deep, sensual voice and  nourishing lyrics that touch our soul. He inspires you in so many ways, setting you free to a different, new, fresh world, where we are connected by what moves us: the desire to simply live and to be happy, evoking many more feelings which were sleeping deep inside for a long time, making us feel alive again. It is a sharing of how he feels — simply beautiful. For those who have spent a lifetime in a surreal world, and have lost touch with what matters, he brings the chance to dream again because there is so much illumination in his lyrics in contrast to the things that we often forgotten, and that realization brings tears to our eyes.

So enjoy this exclusive interview and please visit his official web sites:

 

Anonymous – Dmitry Nechaev

RH: Tell us about your transition from an international fashion model to today’s singing & songwriting?

DN: My modeling career started years back when I was 11. I’ve mastered the runway and acquired a great deal of acting knowledge, got publishing deals in fashion magazines and advertisements both in Russia and Europe. It sure has given me some real balls and actual experience of public performance ever since my childhood. But I’ve always had that passion for music. Yet I’ve never dreamed to become a musician, but music turned out to be the only art I find complete self-realization in. And in no time it became the primary language to express everything that I find trapped within me, although I take an interest in many kinds of arts.

RH: Were you around music growing up in Russia? Tell me about the music scene back there at that time?

DN: I’ve always been going along with music. Ever since my childhood I was totally surrounded by it. Bands like Duran Duran, Pet Shop Boys, Tears for Fears, A-ha along with all the other tunes of 80s really took a great part in my upbringing. Moreover, I think the fact that I was raised listening mostly to foreign music determines my style at the moment. I’m not really sure where is it coming from but I can’t sing in Russian, literally, and even if I try to I do it with a terrible accent.

RH: Then you mentioned in other interviews that you were influenced by Japanese musician Akira Yamaoka. How did you first discover his music since you were only 15 years old at the time. Was it Akira whose music first inspired you?

DN: Akira Yamaoka for me was someone I would really want to become for other people out there. Not only had he inspired me to take steps towards making music, what is most important he was the one to open up my consciousness allowing me to believe that I can actually create stuff on my own. Also he has an incredible talent to express feelings and emotions in his tunes. He managed to invent his own language in music. And that in itself is extremely remarkable.

RH: Your new was released worldwide in September: what was the inspiration and creative process behind it?

DN: That was quite a journey I have to admit. It was the first time ever I dealt with a German record company to actually produce the single. I’ve also got acquainted with European music market as we previously launched the single in Europe. It hit central radio stations such as BBC Radio 1, WDR2, Radio NRW, Antenne1 etc. That was a really significant experience I gained.

RH: How do you want people to feel when they listen to your music? Are there any messages that you are sharing with the public in your lyrics?

DN: Some say that a mission of a true poet is to give a voice to the social background he is surrounded by. I pretty much feel to sort of collect and reveal social concerns and outbreaks within my lyrics. It’s not something I’m aiming to, mostly it is something that comes out by itself. Commonly speaking I never make up rhymes, they usually come as a consequence.

RH: Which is your favorite song on the single as well as the new debut album Ignis Fatuus and why?

DN: Secret Love is definitely the one. In fact this song is the climax, the turning point of the whole album. It is me standing up against society’s cultural aversion, outbreaks of its gross diseases such as racism and xenophobia. It has been composed under a great pressure of thoughts kicking up in my spirit. The whole diversity of ideas exposed in lyrics is verbalized in the sound allowing one to read between the lines and get to the essential point.

Dmitry Nechaev – press release photo

RH: How would you classify your music?

DN: Expressive, psychologically overfilling… a mixture of electronic and live sound bound together with a strong melody and provocative philosophy expanded in lyrics and style, I guess. It is meant to make people think… I do really believe that commercial-based music industry constructs haven’t yet come up with a classification versatile enough to put that in, or have they? With this classification be marketable enough for the mid-class majority of consumers. We bet this is a bit too complicated – they’ll probably answer.

RH: What has been the hardest part in getting your music out there?

DN: The hardest part was gaining belief that I create something that could be understood and appreciated by the masses. I always thought myself to be unique in my own way, to create tunes that are hard to compare to mainstream or whatsoever. It took me quite some time to perceive my art as something I really want to contribute to the music culture of the future.

RH: Do you think that helps media outlets, such My Space, YouTube and Facebook are good ways to get the word out about your music?

DN: Definitely social networking makes sense, to some extent at least. Absolutely perfect for making first steps towards publicity. Besides that’s the perfect means to keep in touch with your fans and followers. But I thought they were essentially meant to raise public interest towards indie culture as to the only industry concept in which real art can exist. As all these major acts seem to become more and more contrived.

RH: How important to you are the visuals that correspond with your music — and do you do anything special to prepare yourself for a performance?

DN: Visual image is actually one of the most significant aspects that goes in tandem with my music. I really strive to deliver a complex idea within my art and give people a chance to perceive its diversity by all means possible. That was the main reason I founded the art project “Equinox” the main purpose of which is to depict the idea emerged in tunes by means of shapes, colours and stuff. Even the way I look mostly reflects the atmosphere trapped within the music.

RH: How often do you create a new song?

DN: Who knows, really. I get various ideas time after time, always try to sketch them down. But for me writing stuff is sort of falling in a trance I find myself involved with, when the whole universe collapses in a malevolent darkness of one’s endeavors, the moment in time in which you’re unaware of your existence and surrounding. You never know how long it may last. The only thing that matters is to capture the idea you carry in sounds and tunes distinct enough for other people to perceive.

RH: Where would you most like to perform? And who would you most like to open for?

DN: On planet Mars, really! My project manager Max and I recently signed for a NASA space campaign to become citizens of Mars. So performing there would be the best thing we could contribute to the cultural desert of the universe. A splendid metaphor for the crucial reality, ain’t it?

RH: If you could choose another genre of music, what would it be? And which genre of music do you most/least listen to?

DN: Due to the music I pick to listen to – Mine mostly… seriously… Someone said that one creates something he lacks in the whole wide world. Well, that’s obviously true for me. As to other artists, I’ve never really dig into music classification to set my preferences in the style or genre. I listen to the tunes that kick up in my spirit, evoke emotions and fit my mood. Even though I do stick to some of my favourite bands I still prefer my music menu completely versatile.

RH: Do you play any instruments?

DN: I play guitar, mostly acoustic, piano and harmonica. Pity the latter doesn’t fit in my music at all. I do really want to learn to play shamisen someday!

Dmitry Nechaev on stage

RH: What was the first concert you ever went to? An how do you felt after?

DN: I’ve been to many when a child, but that was unconsciousness so to speak. But the first gig to get captured in my memory was my favourite Duran Duran’s one. I was 12 at that time, and was completely fascinated and overdriven by the emotions and feelings I experienced. I’ve also had an opportunity to get acquainted with the guys in person and even talk to them a bit.

RH: What do you think of Lady Gaga?

DN: I don’t think of Lady Gaga much more than of an extremely successful commercial project: an unbelievably splendid collaboration of various artists, designers, image-makers, producers, songwriters etc. I happen to believe she might be the apotheosis of what major labels can bring into the cultural disorder of the present. I wish there was a matching personality behind the glossy cover, same bright and unique as the visual.

RH: Who do you think are the three most influential persons in the music industry today and why?

DN: Sony Music, Universal and Capitol. Pardon my sarcasm, but these guys really seem to create the immediate music culture and are believed to know what ordinary consumers’ taste might determine in the nearest future.

RH: What’s the biggest, most important lesson your parents taught you?

DN: To stay true to what I am and to what I believe in. They’ve been and they are my greatest support ever. They are the ones who created my personality. If not for them I might just look into the world through the eyes of an ordinary man resting his future upon the obsolete stereotypes socially acknowledged as ultimate truth.

RH: Do you have any shows coming up?

DN: Indeed I do. We are currently working on a live Unstaged performance held in November in Moscow, Russia. Where we will not only play released material but also will include some previously unheard tracks from the upcoming second studio album. There will also be a couple of local performances on TV and radio to support that show.

RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to say?

DN: Most of the thoughts and ideas are trapped within my music and lyrics. Have a listen. Tsss… Can you feel it? That is me whispering in your ear.

This is my gift to you Dmitry HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

Interview with Artist – Anja Van Herle

Interview with Artist – Anja Van Herle

Introducing this extraordinary artist Anja Van Herle I had the opportunity to meet her during one of the Beverly Hills art exhibitions. And I was fascinated with her ability to paint intriguingly glamorous looking girls in a way that is delightful, playful, colorful and seductive, all at the same time. She does this with a mysterious classy touch, with certain details that are usually only seen just in high fashion. The images captivate our imagination and keep us guessing as to what’s behind those stunning faces and perhaps what was on Anja’s mind during her magic hands’ creative process. So I had to introduce myself and I talk to her about her paintings. The more I saw and heard about her work, the more I had an interest in her.

So I was excited to invite her to answer a few questions and delighted that she accepted my invitation to know more about her background, inspiration and dreams.

Anja Van Herle a Belgian-born artist currently based in Los Angeles, grew up in a musical, and artistic family. She has been painting portraits since she was a child. She holds an MFA (Master’s of Fine Arts) from Belgium’s Higher Institute for Art Education in Painting and graduated in 1987. Her paintings have been featured in countless magazines and blogs while being exhibited all over the world in galleries and museums. She’s been recognized nationally and internationally for her talents as a fine artist. So enjoy this exclusive interview with the woman behind these remarkably chic paintings that are so beautifully painted with charm, elegance and especially with love for art. To learn more about Anja Van Herle’s paintings, please visit her official website.

RH: Tell me about your workspace and your creative process? Does it matter where you live as an artist?
AVH: I work in a small studio in L.A, I don’t think it does matter where you live.
I start with photographing my models and then I rework the pictures with adding make-up, accessories… sometimes it’s like a collage before I start painting.

RH: The women in your paintings are very glamorous. What are you influenced by?
AVH: My influences are classy glamorous woman such as Audrey Hepburn (remembered as a film and fashion icon of the twentieth century)

RH: What would be your dream creative project? And what do you find most rewarding about your paintings?
AVH: I have a few creative dreams, first I would love to paint murals or big pieces for cool, hip hotels and high fashion boutiques. Another creative dream is to merchandise my work, especially in the clothing line.

The most rewarding aspect about my work is that I think I create something totally new in the art world, I hear a lot from fans or people that it’s so unique which I think it’s great.

RH: What skill would you still like to master?
AVH: I would love to learn airbrush, the reason why is because most of the people think my technic is airbrush, I have no idea how to do airbrush, :—)

RH: Who, if you had a chance, would you really like to paint?
AVH: I would love to paint the woman who I admire as artists, like Beyonce, Alicia Keys.

RH: If you could give women a fashion tip to be fabulous what would it be?
AVH: Just be yourself, wear what fits you, don’t try to be somebody else and smile a lot, that makes a person fabulous!

RH: Which look best captures the spirit of your paintings? And how long did it take to do a typical project?
AVH: I see it as a life time, you went to art school, developed your style, it took so many years to be where I am now… so that’s a life time.

RH: What are your goals as an artist? How do you see yourself progressing? Or does this matter?
AVH: First you you want to get your images out there to be seen, this in different ways. Now I want people to enjoy my work… through galleries, museums… in my t-shirts. So sharing my work with the people…

Yes, I like to progress in my work so it matters. I see it as being in galleries all over the world.

RH: What other interests do you have outside of art? And what dream do you still wish to fulfill?
AVH: I like to travel, love to collect shells but have to find them… ( not buying in a store) :—)

My dream is to impact people with my art.

RH: Which five words best describe you?
AVH: Funny, friendly, daring, generous and inpatient.

RH: Who did you admire most when you were a student? And now? Are there any artists whose work you enjoy today?
AVH: I admired Dali, Toulouse-Lautrec, Klimt, Schiele

Now I love Murakami, a great Japanese artist!

RH: Any new or upcoming project(s) you are working on that you’d like to share with us?
AVH: Working on my first collection T-shirts with my art on.

RH: Are there any other thoughts or anything else you would like to say?
AVH: That I’m most of the time so happily surprised with all the different kind of reactions of my fans… people cry for my art… not art lovers become art lovers since they saw my work…

Thank you Rhônya for your interest.


PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.

Interview with Illustrator – Liz Adams

Interview with Illustrator – Liz Adams

Liz Adams is a freelance illustrator based in Los Angeles known for her cheerful, delicate and feminine illustrations. Her drawings have graced the pages of: Teen Magazine, Girl’s Life, American Baby, Vogue Girl Korea, Disney, Today’s Parent, Venus Zine, Adorn Magazine, Curve Magazine, Nails Magazine, ELLE Girl Korea and many more publications. Because of her colorful style and beautiful hand-drawinging full of fun and imagination, she is a regular contributor for the most well known magazines. Also she created her own pattern that is incredibly adorable and she has been working on her new book that is coming soon. Definitely Liz is a busy girl!

So enjoy this exclusive interview with this talented artist and loving person. To learn more about Liz Adams’ illustrations, please visit her website.

Jellyfish Girl

RH: Tell me about your workspace and your creative process? Does it matter where you live as an artist?

LA: I work out of a room in my apartment. I have a table where I can paint and draw and another area with my computer setup. I don’t think it matters where you live as an artist as long as you find ways to get your work out there.

RH: Self-taught or formally educated? (or mixture of both, mentors etc …)

LA: I think of it as a mixture of both. I was a mixed media art major in college and mostly focused on making weird sculptures. I didn’t realize that I wanted to pursue illustration until a couple years after graduating. I worked as a photo retoucher and fine art printer at the time which really helped to train me technically. I was drawing a lot and started painting. I thought my work could possibly be marketable so I did tons of research, put together a portfolio and started promoting.

RH: How do you stay inspired? Can you share some of your ideas?

LA: I can usually get inspired by just tuning out and doodling. If I get bored with something I’m working on or the way I’m working I try to find ways to make it fresh to me either by playing with different tools, materials or techniques or reassessing my original idea.

RH: Once a client has handed off an illustration job to you, how do you first tackle the job? Could you give us a quick overview of your process?

LA: I’ll usually start by making a few quick thumbnail sketches. From those I’ll pick two to three that I’d like to make into larger sketches with more detail that I do with pencil and paper. I scan them in and either add some gray tones or colors if I already have a color scheme in mind. I send them to the client and either it gets approved or I revise the sketch until it’s perfect for the client. At that point I’ll start drawing my final illustration. I’ll put my sketch down on a light table and make a new drawing in pen over it. I may paint or draw various elements like textures or backgrounds. I scan everything in and work on it in Photo shop. I use a wacom tablet to clean up, color and assemble everything.

RH: What are your goals as an artist? How do you see yourself progressing?

LA: I just to want to do work that I’m excited about. I’d really like to work on a children’s book and do projects for animation or games. I love illustrating things for teen girls so I hope to do more of that too.

RH: What are the best and worst parts of being a working artist?

LA: The best parts are doing what I love and seeing my work out there. The worst parts are dealing with some of the business aspects in this economy—slow periods, late paying clients and lower budgets.

Flying mixed media on watercolor paper

RH: What other interests do you have outside of art?

LA: I like to watch TV, play video games, cook things and walk around my neighborhood.

RH: Current and upcoming projects?

LA: I just finished some work for a couple magazines. I’m working on a book dummy that I’m hoping to pitch soon. I’m also learning animation software.

RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to say?

LA: My best advice to anyone who wants to do art is to never give up and have a place online where it’s easy to see your work.

Illustration in the March/09 issue of ELLE Girl Korea

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.

An Interview with Painter Ty Steinbacher

An Interview with Painter Ty Steinbacher

.. for a couple of years now, been admiring the brilliant art of the professional fine artist Ty Steinbacher. His paintings really blow me away. He has an exquisite eye for beauty that he captures with his brush in each painting, each of which has a unique magical touch. So I was delighted when he agreed to let me interview him. He does gorgeous oil paintings and specializes in portraits, human form, nature and plain air landscapes. Also he builds his own custom homes. A truly gifted artist by heart and soul. Ty lives and works in the Catskill Mountains at Walton of Upstate New York. An award-winning artist, his paintings have been shown in a variety of venues and have been recognized inter-/nationally for his excellence. Notwithstanding, he’s also been featured in countless newspapers. Ty’s art is part of numerous private collections all over the world. So enjoy this exclusive interview with this amazing artist and person. To learn more about Ty Steinbacher, please visit his official web site.

Voice of Two Rivers” Oil on Canvas 48″ x 36″ Collection the Artist Not for Sale

RH: Tell me about your workspace and your creative process? Does it matter where you live as an artist?

TS: My studio workspace is about 600 square feet, with 3 large north facing skylights, but I mostly only use a very small part of that when I am painting. I could probably get by just fine in a 9′ x 12′ room, as long as it had good natural light. I strongly prefer natural light over artificial. No, I don’t think it matters at all where you live as an artist, as long as you are happy there and get your work seen by the public. In my opinion…you could live in the middle of NYC or in the North Pole and still be a successful artist.

RH: How do you stay inspired? Can you share about your painting techniques? And your favorite products?

TS: I stay inspired by realizing how brief life is and how little time is left to paint. Don’t waste another minute, before time runs out. My painting approach often changes from painting to painting. I use old master techniques of glazing to more modern techniques…I never know for sure until I start on a piece, which technique I will use. I like Winsor & Newton, Gamblin, as well as Williamsburg oil paint. I normally use filbert and cats tongue brushes, made by Silver.

RH: How do you select your favorite subjects?

TS: All I can say is, paint what you love and it will show in your work and be felt by the viewer.

RH: How do you define art?

TS: To me, art is the creation of anything, whether it is a building, a painting or a birthday cake… it is all art!

RH: Who did you admire most when you were a student? and now? Are there any artists whose work you enjoy today?

TS: Since I am totally self taught, I had to do all the homework myself. I remember being inspired by Bouguereau the most. As far as modern artists, I like almost everyone, but was very impressed with the work of Nelson Shanks.

RH: What advice would you give to a student or young artist about to begin a career as a professional artist?

TS: Well, the best I can tell you is… you have to be willing to fight for what you love and never give up no matter what! There will be countless negative people who will try to discourage you, but just ignore them and feel blessed that you are brave enough to live your dream and they are not. If you love what you do and you are serious about what you love… you will always be happy and you will never fail. Just keep working and the art will open doors and move mountains!

RH: What are the best and worst parts of being a full time, working artist?

TS: The best part is, you wake up every morning and realize you are free. There is no worst part… it’s heaven to be free.

RH: What other interests to you have outside of art? And what are you passionate about?

TS: I enjoy nature, travel, genealogy and photography. I love to meet people of different cultures and hear their philosophy on life.

RH: What’s the best lesson you’ve learned along the way? And what’s been your best decision?

TS: The best lesson I learned was, stop wasting time doing what I don’t enjoy doing and explaining what I love to people who don’t care. The best decision I made was to stop living someone else’s dream and start living mine.

RH: What dreams do you still want to fulfill?

TS: I just want to keep painting what I love and it would be great to have a solo show in New York City.

RH: Is there anything extraordinary about your past, present or future exhibitions you’d like to share?

TS: Nothing really extraordinary… but I do currently have a solo exhibition going on till June 3, 2011 at the Cooperstown Art Association in Cooperstown, New York. I am also working on paintings for a solo show at the Columbia County Council on the Arts in Hudson, NY, coming up this fall.

RH: Are there any other thoughts or ideas you’d like to share?

TS: Just believe in yourself and never be afraid to express yourself. You were given a gift for a reason… use it to the fullest. The biggest joy I have ever felt is inspiring others to use their talents and follow their dreams. You can do the same. Always be positive, caring and take time to help others. Your life will be richly rewarded…


“Birth of the Union” Oil on Linen 40″ x 30″ SOLD Collection ~ Rea Peace New York, USA
” The Beginning ” ( Model, Jolie D. )- 36″ x 60″ Oil on Canvas ~ Sold on PBS Live TV Art Auction ~ Private collection, Apalachin, New York
” At Peace with Nature” 30″ x 40″ Oil on Linen

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.

“Paganae” What does that Mean?

“Paganae” What does that Mean?

A couple of months ago, I discovered a Copenhagen-based Vegan Apparel line. At first I was intrigued with the name of the brand, and then I especially liked the philosophy behind the collection and began to be even more curious to discover the inspiration behind it all. Paganae was founded in 2007 by Graeme Cochrane, whose focus is on promoting and spreading a positive message with his cool, eco-friendly T-shirts and peaceful lifestyle. He invites us to live consciously, in harmony with our environment and all life, both plant and animal. Graeme encourages people to be more eco-conscious with his soft, comfortable T-shirts which make you happy to wear because of the way they feel as well as how they look and what they express. He graciously granted me an exclusive interview amid his busy schedule — enjoy learning about the man behind the brand “Paganae”.

RH: “Paganae” is the name of your brand, and what does that mean?
GC: Paganus is Latin and means a villager or someone ‘of the country’ as opposed to the civilized people living in the city. In western culture the word has often been used as heathen or heretical, especially in the term ‘pagan religion’. In a broader sense it has come to mean someone or something that is not mainstream, that does not follow the main religion or ethos of a given culture – in other words an outsider. The ‘ae’ ending is just to make the word plural.
I guess we thought that the word contained or captured an essential part of the vegan values. For many people meat eating is somewhat of a religion, and for vegans not to contribute to the practice of using animals for all kinds of things is like going against the stream. In line with our name is the name of the American internet radio show – Vegan Freak Radio.

RH: Tell me about your work space, and what first inspired you to design your vegan
T-shirts on your own?

GC: Our designs we make ourselves. We have a friend who is a graphic designer and who is the main graphic designer in the project. Developing the ideas and going from idea to design is a process we all participate in though, so it is really a collaboration of joined forces. We are around 5 people in the project.

As to the ideas of our designs we draw inspiration from various fields. A lot of us have written lyrics and rapped in the underground environment, where hooks are an important factor in the making of a track. I guess you could say that a sensation, a statement or a meaning is boiled down into few words or a metaphor – like that of art in general. We coin hooks thinking ‘out of the box’ and often combine something well-known with a new entry – like the ‘Chick Strike’ hook – or turn something upside down.
Graphically, we are inspired by clothing brands like Obey, Organika and Planet Earth, artists like Banksy and Iso50 along with a variety of other urban artists.

RH: How is your printing process? And where?

GC: Our ‘first edition’ T-shirts are made in 100% organic cotton in Nicaragua by the Fair Trade Zone. The Fair Trade Zone is a small, worker-owned cooperative that has been funded by the Center for Development in Central America (CDCA), a non-profit organization seeking to address human needs.
Being a brand whose ideals have moral character, we are happy to deliver our clothes to people in organic cotton from an independent sewing cooperative. They have been produced in a factory where the workers receive fair wages and benefits, have good working conditions and are not exploited. Better for your skin as well as for our planet’s, organic cotton is part of the organic wave that testifies to increased awareness and responsible action. It is important to us that sustainability remains where animals are not in the limelight.

RH: Eco-friendly fashion seems to grow more popular everyday. What are some of the
characteristics of your line that make it stand out from the pack?

GC: Some years ago we came across an Indian myth that can be summarized as follows: Back in the Genesis of the world, all animals were each allowed to give one illness to man for the misdeeds he would inflict on them. This myth sparked an idea — a design that drew inspiration from the movie poster for “Star Wars – The Empire Strikes Back”. Our first hook had hatched and Paganae saw the light of day.

When this first idea came up – ‘Salmonella – The Chicken Strikes Back’ we had some 20 T-shirts made with the design screen printed on them at the local screen printing shop. We got some very positive feedback wearing this T-shirt, like people commenting on how great a hook/message the ‘Chick Strike’ was. Friends and relatives asked for a T-shirt and the 20 T-shirts we had made were very quickly sold or given away. From this point on we came up with more hooks and ideas, eventually decided to turn our designs into a more serious project and came up with a brand name. I guess we had come across many T-shirts with hooks like ‘Meat is Murder’, and regardless of the taste and temper of the individual vegan or vegetarian, this is a more direct approach which can be a turn off to some people. We wanted to give something to vegetarians and vegans that had more depth to it and had a more appetizing appeal to people, often people who are not into the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. The fact that not that many vegan clothing brands are around yet, we also see ourselves as a pioneer with this particular clothing brand.
At a more basic level, having been part of the vegan community for some years we wanted to contribute to the vegan cause besides following a vegan lifestyle in our daily lives.

RH: Why do you think people are shifting to organic products, clothing, food, home
furnishings, etc?

GC: In an ideal world products from food to clothing would have a warning label if they had been produced via child labour or in poor working conditions, with the help of pesticides, growth hormones etc. and not the other way around. But I guess this is a political discussion that has to do with the major scale consumption by especially people in western culture often under unrestricted industrial power.
I think people are beginning to realize the massive impact 6 billion human beings have on planet earth. Really, it’s not more than 60 years ago we began using all kinds of chemicals in our industries and agriculture and we’re just starting to learn how this affects nature and invariably ourselves. Fortunately, we do have experienced an organic and fair trade boom in the western world in the past couple of decades that testifies to increased awareness and responsible action. I definitely think this change in trend is noticeable and portends hope for the future. Slowly, I think organic and fair trade products will replace conventional production. At all events, we are proud to be part of that transition.

RH: Do you think veganism should be seen as a lifestyle? Are you a vegetarian? If
yes, since when?

GC: I have been vegan for just about 7 years now and couldn’t be happier with that choice. Before that I was a vegetarian for just about 2 years. The shift away from meat and animal products really has been inevitable for me because I became aware of the many problems related to consuming animals. Of course, it didn’t happen overnight but as I had been experiencing a radical change in the way I looked at non-human animals there was only one way for me – veganism.

Yes, I definitely think veganism should be seen as a lifestyle. The number of people following a vegan lifestyle has grown rapidly the past decade or so. Whether people get into veganism because of environmental concerns, for health benefits or due to an ethical elevation they experience, I think most vegans are quite informed about the many problems related to how humans treat non-human animals. Because vegans go ‘all the way’ as opposed to people buying ‘cruelty- or cage-free’ and ‘animal-friendly’ products, we mark a change of kind and not one of degree. This is the important difference between the philosophy of animal rights, which is quite controversial, and decent animal welfare, which most people can agree upon though the majority of these people does not act accordingly when shopping. In this connection we think of vegetarians as aspiring vegans or people who cannot live vegan due to practical reasons. Being vegan in a world of so many animal exploiting products, rituals and entertainment sometimes surely can be a hassle – it is easy to feel alienated, and this is why veganism is so much of a lifestyle. “No matter how many products in the supermarket, how many today’s specials are of animal origin and no matter how many of you enjoy a day at the zoo, none of that will have me by the balls”, said the vegan.

RH: Are your clothes only for vegans, or do you also want non-vegan people to buy
your clothes?

GC: Sure we want non-vegan people to buy our clothes. Anyone who likes or loves our designs and the messages they bring is more than welcome to wear Paganae – the message is delivered just as well by a meat eater, a vegetarian or a vegan. Of course, our primary target is vegans seeing that you won’t ever buy a design from us that favours egg or dairy consumption, or circus animals for that matter. This being said, a fan is a fan and an important keyword in developing our brand has been including rather than excluding. Our hope is that the subtle and humorous approach that our designs are characteristic of contribute to the vegan cause in a different way and stand a better chance of turning non-vegans on than the more direct approach. So whoever you are, please join in!

RH: What direction do you see for “Paganae” in the future?

GC: The styles of our first edition T-shirts are quite classic T-shirt styles from street/urban fashion. For future editions we hope to be able to expand our clothing line to dresses, skirts, jeans etc. for women and shirts, hoodies, polo’s, pullovers etc. for men along with caps, belts and other accessories. At some point maybe also vegan shoes.

RH: Are there any thoughts or anything else you’d like to add?

GC: Our aim is to be a place where anyone who is into future life can breathe with effortless ease. Grounded in the vegan movement, we have on our journey through uncharted territory seen our share of things that simply just don’t add up. Along the way we have become still more aware of the importance of taking sides against the violence and covetousness with which humans so often meet other creatures of our world.

The traditional and still prevailing view of animals is that they were put here for our sake, that they are a resource to suit our wants and desires. The practical facets of this stronghold inevitably involve rough and relentless treatment, and struggling against their will tightens our hold in return. Being equipped to carry out these actions against animals is the main purpose of our emotional detachment from them. We inherit this hardening through our culture, segregating us from them.
Since we are opposed to this view of animals, abstaining from the use of animal derived materials or labour is fundamental to us. Following the path from the dark part of the woods to the glades, we have our eyes fixed on an overriding goal: to bring us to a state where animals fill our hearts rather than our hands and bellies – to bring us closer to their homecoming beyond the hills.

Please check out Paganae’s official website.

[UPDATE] – unfortunately today I discovered that this business does not exist anymore 🙁 but we’ll keep the article  🙂

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.

Designer Profile: Hot!Couture Sara Di Salvo

Designer Profile: Hot!Couture Sara Di Salvo

Last year I met a young designer Sara Di Salvo during one of New York’s fashion shows in the Meatpacking district. An adorable girl who speaks English with a lovely Italian accent, I would prefer to speak Italian with her but she said “no, no, no… I have to practice English during the time I’m in New York.” “No problem with me,” I said…

During our conversation I noticed that she was observing me a lot — think she was unsure of what to say. I told her she can relax with me and tell me her story. Mrs. Di Salvo is a 26 years old Rome born Italian designer who graduated from the International Fashion Academy “KOEFIA” of Rome. Debuting her first graduation collection in 2008 at the “Spazio Etoile” her inspirations come from images of her surrounding. During these visual experiences she creates amazing, sensual and elegant collections based in incredible attention to detail in tailoring and passion for fashion. She choreographed her own photo shoots to make sure that everything goes well in expressing “her”. Sara’s dresses were well received and therefore a great success by the public, and caught the eye of famous fashion experts and TV shows in Italy.

She’s been featured in Italian magazines e.g. Sky.it, DMODA, Suitcase and many more. Her gowns are top quality and definitely Red-Carpet style. Soon she will be on everyone’s lips. Below are images of her 2010 new collection Come Un Fiore. Please check out Sara Di Salvo’s official website: www.hotcouture.info

PS: All images here are used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the designer.