A range of colour highlights to graphite tonal work flows through Nas Abraham’s figure illustrations. Recently showcased at Fashion Styleology’s ‘Illustrating Dreams’ exhibition, Abraham won the chance to contribute to DASH Magazine’s SS14 issue due in February 2014 by being picked as DASH’s favourite illustrator.
What does your studio look like or where do you work?
My studio looks like what any creative’s room would look like… because it is my room. Rarely tidy, full of electronics and pieces of inspiring artwork dotted around the room. Works for me.
What defines fashion illustration?
I would call it ‘fine art with style’. Fashion illustration is more about aesthetic and has a focus on garments / clothing. The traditional forms of media such as inks and paints no longer constrict the illustrator as it has become so broad, ranging from anything such as collage to moving image.
What do your illustrations tell us?
I try to communicate a sense of labour and arduousness in my pieces, but at the same time looking relatively effortless. I like to use a range of media that complement each other, much like items within style complement each other. I feel this forces the viewer to linger at the piece for longer, rather than label it as ‘cool’ and move on.
Fashion has a strong culture, but it’s also one of the only art forms that we can physically display on a daily basis, i.e. the clothes we wear. The fashion aesthetic is something which is not often adopted by traditional illustrators and graphic designers, but it is an incredibly skilful one to which your eye must be trained to accomplish properly. Depending on the style, I feel it’s often about critically and intelligently taking away from the piece rather than adding to it, and that’s what separates it from traditional illustration.
Where do you find inspiration? Which magazines do you consult?
Without sounding too cliché, I find inspiration from literally anywhere; books in a charity shop, level designs in a videogame, the walls of a church or textures in sediment formations. The majority of my inspiration actually comes from online platforms such as Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr, but because I like to learn, magazines with tutorials such as Digital Arts are great. Traditional fashion magazines GQ, DASH, Noise, Dansk, Tirade and a few Japanese ones such as Men’s Non-No are the magazines I currently have on my shelf.
Please tell us about your technique(s).
I use a wide range but perhaps the most distinguishable is the technique I used for ‘The Melancholic’. For the faces I used black oil paint with a dry-brush technique and for capturing the leather textures I created a way to combine graphic marker, chalk, coloured pencil and charcoal to get an accurate representation of the leathers.
Where are you heading to?
I hope to also work with different brands on illustrated campaigns as I feel there’s so much that can be done as an alternative to stand-alone photography. Oh, and I’m launching a fashion line featuring a range of my prints, imbued with a very strong concept behind it… You’ll just have to wait and see.
Thank you for your time.
Interview: NoéMie Schwaller