Sian

Your recent MET GALA illustrations caught my eye on Instagram. What inspired you to cover this fab fashion event and how did you choose specific looks to illustrate as there were so many stunning ones?

Roya

As a fashion illustrator, it’s very important to be on top of the fashion world “schedule”. Whether it’s the MET Gala, fashion week, or what looks are currently trending, I have to be constantly aware of what’s going on and what’s going to happen in the future so my work can stay relevant. The more I push out relevant artwork that is correlated to what’s trending, the more engagement I get. So in this context, illustrating looks from the MET Gala is a major requirement in the fashion illustrating world. This is how illustrators land collaborations, commissioned projects, and private clients. Staying current, fresh, relevant and trendy is how we generate business. I learned from a young age that the fashion industry is tough, so you have to know what’s going to happen before it happens and then execute something BRILLIANT from it.

As for choosing who to illustrate, I always let my intuition make the decisions. I’m not going to illustrate Chanel, because it’s Chanel. I have to LOVE an outfit or a dress. I have to love the woman who is wearing the dress. The look has to speak to me and inspire me to pick up my paintbrush. I let my heart lead the way in choosing what looks to illustrate, and I stuck with what really made my jaw drop!

Sian

You have a specific style that sets you apart from many fashion illustrators I have seen. I simply love the exaggerated lips and eyes in your work. Can you please tell me more about your style of illustration and how you developed it?

Roya

I learned at a young age that striving for perfection in art is just going to be a frustrating, egotistical civil war inside of my mind. I feel as though the best artists out there embrace their imperfections because that’s what shapes their style of work, and makes them stand out from the rest. I’m always asking myself how I can be more original, and with trial and error, I’m able to fine-tune my style. Embracing mistakes means you are having FUN! That’s the most important thing. Have fun!

As a woman, my favorite part about applying makeup is putting on mascara at the end, because it finishes the whole look and it’s incredibly satisfying. Mascara is the last step before you take that one last glance in the mirror before you go out. The art and enjoyment of putting on mascara are often overlooked, and it’s something that I take very seriously. I guess you can say that’s translated into my artwork. Adding big eyelashes finishes the piece for me. I also just love exaggerating the eyes. There are many reasons why I do it. My roots are Iranian and in Iran, it’s the law that women cover up their entire body except for their eyes. Because of this, they focus on their eye makeup because it’s the first thing people will see over there. As women we are constantly searching for what makes us feel beautiful, and if you’re forced to cover up your entire body and face instead of your eyes, you WILL make sure your eyes are so striking that nothing else will matter to the viewer.

Even Iranian-American women still seem to be hardwired to hyper focus on the eyes when applying makeup. Iranian women have beautiful, almond shaped eyes. They always apply makeup, perfume and dress up, even if it’s for a simple grocery run. There’s something I find really glamorous and mysterious about getting dolled up with no specific agenda. You don’t need to be rich to do this, there are always loopholes and life hacks. I grew up watching my aunties and grandma doing this, and my artwork is an homage to my bloodline, and a celebration of the strong women in my family always presenting their best self with such poise and elegance.

As for the lips, I’ll never draw a woman smiling. A smile masks and distorts the true emotion of the eyes in my paintings, and the eyes are the most important feature for me. I want that to be the main focus, and if there’s a smile paired with that, it changes the piece entirely.

Sian

You cover so many fashion events and collections. What is your creative inspiration behind your creations? Can you tell me about your creative process?

Roya

I have a few apps on my phone, and blogs/websites saved on my computer that I check daily to see what’s trending. From there, I let my heart make the decisions in what I’m going to illustrate. I wake up early every morning and start sketching things that speak to me with my cup of coffee. I love routine and I love feeling inspired to create things first thing in the morning. It helps me start my day on a positive note which is vital.

Images have to speak to me and inspire me. That way, my work doesn’t look forced. I’m always striving for an effortless translation of what I see. If I don’t see it in the fashion world, I see it in the women I know in my life. I draw inspiration from everything I see that speaks to my heart. It could be haute couture or the women I’ve met in yoga class. It could be a tube of lipstick or an ice cream cone. I also love nature, so you’ll see flowers in almost every portrait that I paint. There’s something wild about a woman with flowers in her hair.

Sian

What brands and models do you find yourself obsessed with? Do you have a particular muse?

Roya

Allure magazine and the Vogue Runway app are great references that I use. I’m obsessed with the brand Wildfox Couture because it embodies the celebration of female empowerment as well as celebrating all things girly and fun. All things vintage, beach bums, easy California vibes, sleepovers, baggy beach sweaters and other old school stuff from the 90’s is a big part of their brand that I love. It’s dreamy and gives me lots of room for imagination. Kendall Jenner is my top gal I follow for what’s trending. She’s the most underrated supermodel. Her look, and the way she wears clothing so effortlessly — she’s going to do great things. My female idol is Beyoncé. Beyoncé is not only beautiful, talented and humble, but she’s unflinchingly honest with her emotions in her music, and I find it very inspiring. She’s taught me that staying gracious and silent speaks volumes. Her humility and mysterious aura clashes with the idea that she’s the most powerful woman in the world, and that’s awe-inspiring.

Sian

Have you had the opportunity to work with many fashion brands at this point in your journey? Who would you love to work with in the future?

Roya

Yes! I have, and it’s been so much fun and almost unreal. There are some beauty brands that I’ve obsessed over half of my life, and it’s crazy that I get to partner up with them. There are always going to be brands/influencers that I would love to work with in the future, but my ultimate dream is to have a collection in a museum or displayed somewhere to a huge audience. I want people to be deeply affected by my work. I’m currently still figuring out what that means for me.

What is next for you? Do you have any exciting projects coming up?

Roya

I do! I like to stay private about my unfinished projects, especially when I’m partnering with brands or influencers, but there are some really fun things in store for the near future that I can’t wait to share with the world once they’re finished! I never know what the future holds. I follow my gut feelings when I paint something, and through that, there are opportunities presented before me, and it seems to organically unravel itself beautifully.