in VISUAL ARTISTS
" I think the world would be a better place if more people had an opportunity to do what they love. When people feel good they make better choices. When all of us will make better choices we'll have a better world. "
I'm so happy to introduce you Natalia Jhete, New York-based fashion illustrator and fashion designer. Natalia’s ability to accentuate certain expressions in her subjects’ faces is quite fascinating. As you may notice while creating portraits of inspirational talents such as Vivienne Westwood, Jeremy Scott, Amy Winehouse, and others, Natalia pays close attention to the mimics and emphasizes them in an exquisite manner. She captures the inner soul of her subjects: full of life eyes are they are looking at the viewer with thoughts and character. A combination of somewhat traditional portraiture with light touches of caricature style and slight presence of surrealism is the peculiar indications of Natalia’s style.
In a few sentences tell us about you and your work.
My roots are nothing too crazy... I am simply American/Columbian. Born and raised in the heart of Miami. I am a watercolor artist with an ongoing affinity with couture and surrealism. I grew up in Miami so I always find a touch of its Art Deco history hidden throughout my work.
Describe your personal style as an artist.
I am not too sure how to put my own work into words but usually, when I hear people talk about it they say it is whimsical with a dark undertone. A lot of times I also hear that there is something a bit off and funny to it.
Where do you find your inspiration?
My inspiration comes from so many different places. On top of whatever inspiration the day brings my way, I have folders with thousands of artsy images, fashion editorials, and photography that sparks my imagination. I try not to hold on to any images that are too normal, there has to be an element of fantasy to it.
What do you most enjoy depicting in your artwork? Do you tend to get many opportunities to draw that subject matter in your line of work?
My favorite part of fashion illustration is drawing faces. Typically I will start an illustration with the face because if I can't get it right then the piece is not worth finishing. Lately, I have been pushing myself more and more to illustrate a particular type of face that will hopefully become a signature in my work.
What is your creative process: do you sketch at first, listen to particular music, collaborate with other artists, etc?
My creative process is always evolving but the two things that stay constant are: inspiration in surrealism and there has to be good music on! My current song to set the mood for painting is Napalm Skyline by Dirty Art Club. Sexy sounds are a must!
Where do you shop for your art materials? What’s your medium of choice?
I'm not really too picky when it comes to where I get my materials from, in fact for a very long time I was working with Crayola watercolor sets that I bought from a near by dollar store. As my work started to grow I felt it was time to start using higher quality material and I was lucky enough to get sponsored by GRUMBACHER, an American manufacturer of art materials. Their generosity has given me the opportunity to work with some amazing products. I've come a long way from Crayola...
Could you talk a bit about the process of launching your illustration career?
When I initially moved to New York my focus was on pursuing fashion design. Obviously, that industry is really difficult to become a part of so I decided to use my background in art to get into the mix. At the beginning I started by working with an agency do art for their model show packages and eventually, I started to reach out to fashion magazines and brands that I wanted to collaborate with. My background in women' wear lead me to only taking on fashion related illustration and over time I realized I had become a fashion illustrator.
Do you have a background in fashion?
Fashion has been a big influence in my life and it is something I am equally passionate about. On top of going to school for women' wear design I have recently partnered up with a good friend and am now designing for my own line, Jheté.
Do you draw full time? What other passions do you have?
While I don't draw full time it does take up a big part of my life. Since living in New York I've found myself in a constant hustle and have also found myself occasionally working as a freelance stylist on top of designing and illustrating.
I meant to ask you about "Creatives & Their Minds" project for ODDA Magazine. Tell us in a few words about those portraits.
Contributing to ODDA Magazine for the "Creatives & Their Minds" was a real stepping-stone for me in terms of the evolution of my work. Those particular illustrations were based off pre-existing photographs and had to have a realistic quality to them, which I had not experimented with. Since then I have added a more realistic technique to the faces I am illustrating and I love the response it is getting.
Do you have a certain routine in your life?
These days I can truly say my life has little to no routine. That’s one of the great and scary things about being a freelance artist. You never know when you are going to have something coming your way. The only one thing that stays routine is that I draw almost every day.
How do you think the use of Instagram has benefited your art practice?
I think Instagram, like all social media, is a huge benefit to all artists. I have been booked for a few jobs from people seeing my Instagram feed. It gives me an audience that I don't think I would have been able to get on my own.
Are you actively involved in a community of artists?
Unfortunately, I am not involved in a community of artists but it is something that I think would be a great experience. It is always great to be in the company of others that are creative and driven.
Name your top influences (artists or otherwise):
I constantly find myself inspired by the same three people: Alexander McQueen, Daniel Merriam & Tim Walker. I have really come to appreciate the sense of fantasy and wonder that they always manage to capture.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
In 5 years I hope to still be pursuing art and design. Ideally, I would love to illustrate and develop prints for my own garments. That would be a dream come true.
What moves you?
A topic that always seems to move me is anything related to the treatment of animals. I have yet to find a way to use my work to make a difference but hopefully, that time is not too far from now.
Your favorite color, why?
My favorite color, without a doubt, is green. I couldn't tell you why but I just know I LOVE it!
Your favorite place on Earth:
I haven't traveled enough yet to be able to name my favorite place in the world but of all the places I have been, I'd have to say my favorite has been Japan. I am totally in love with their "kawaii" lifestyle and the toy stores were beyond great.
Your dream place:
My dream place would have to be Iceland. I find it so inspiring that its modern culture is still so into it's whimsical and magical roots. Any place where people believe in elves and trolls is a place to dream about. Hopefully, I will visit it in the near future...
Does environmental concern enter your work practice at all?
The environmental issue is always a thought in my mind but has yet to enter my vision as an artist. I feel as if art is a way to escape reality and maybe painting is my way of pretending those concerns aren't real.
What can make Earth a better place in terms of environment, energy, and peace?
As one of the lucky few artists who are passionate about their work, I think the world would be a better place if more people had an opportunity to do what they love. When people feel good they make better choices and if all of us will make better choices we'll have a better world.
If you had an opportunity what would you change about the world?
If I could change the world I would add more magic to it. Things are so dark and seem to be getting darker and I feel adding a sense of magic and mystery would really shake things up.
How can your vision impact our surrounding?
I believe that everything has an effect on everything, especially art! If I decide to create positive art my hopes are that it will have a positive effect on those around it.
Your advice to emerging illustrators:
Stay busy and keep putting your art out into the world. There is nothing wrong with contacting magazines, companies and even other artists that you'd aspire to work with. Also, don't get caught up comparing your work to other artists in the same field. Instead, spend that time developing and perfecting your own unique perspective.
Support Natalia Jhete www.nataliajhete.com
Natalia's fashion brand JHETE www.jhete.com
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