Featured Illustrator

Yali Ziv

March 2019

We caught up with Shenkar graduate, Yali Ziv to talk about her graduations plans vs what actually happened; she takes us through a typical day-in-the-life in her home studio, and we talk about developing your style as an illustrator.

Did you have a plan for graduation and what actually happened?

I studied Visual Communication Design in Shenkar, Tel Aviv. During those years I would share a lot of my sketches and my personal works on Instagram and Facebook. Slowly but surely I understood the power of social media. I think that things played out pretty naturally once my work reached more and more people and potential clients.

My first meaningful project that I did was during my third and last year of my studies. My illustrations were chosen to lead the branding of the final exhibition in Shenkar, and my illustrations were exposed to the public. It was very exciting and meaningful for me. Just a couple of weeks after that, during my studies, I started working as a freelance illustrator. At the end of my final year of College, once I finished my final project, I thought that I would take a short break to relax, but within a week I already found myself working on 3 different projects. In the beginning, I was contemplating whether to work for a design studio, but I understood pretty quickly that It was important for me to focus and improve my personal style and continue to work on and develop my brand and business.

While in Shenkar, I was sure that I wanted to illustrate children's books, and actually ever since I finished studying, other than one children's book I've illustrated- most of my work has catered to adults. Of course, I'm always dreaming about illustration for children in the future, but right now I'm pretty content with working with commercial brands that mainly related to design, fashion and lifestyle, that have ideas and projects that I connect and relate to.

How does the local culture of where you live affect your design work and getting clients?

Tel- Aviv, Israel is where I live and create. I never just draw the landscape, there are always people or figures that intrigue me. I feel like I have a social responsibility when it comes to my work and illustrations. Politics is everywhere, even in what we create. Social and human issues are always occupying my mind.

Ever since I was a kid, I remember that in all the movies, toys, and visual representations that I was exposed to, there was always a certain beauty model, lights skinned, thin and perfect. I believe that today, people are much more aware of this subject matter and therefore there is already a bit of change. There is more awareness about just how important it is to have different representations of beauty.

In my works, both independent and commercial, I try to present figures and people that are based on beauty models that are different and varied. For example using different skin and hair colors, body type and to just try as much as I can to represent a feminine and feminist model that I can connect and relate to.

Talk us through a typical working day include for you right now.

Most of the time I work from home. I am very organized- I wake up early just like "regular" people who go off to work and try to work during the hours where I'm most productive.

I must say am a tiny bit obsessed with cleanliness and therefore the first thing I do every morning is clean the whole house- only then can I really feel ready to concentrate, start the day and work.

When my desk gets unorganized in a beautiful way, I take a picture and then immediately reorganize it. I need to hear some type of background noise while I'm working, whether it's the radio, talk shows, or some good trashy music. I break down my daily tasks to deadlines, reading and responding to emails and I really try to dedicate at least one hour a day to draw or illustrate for myself.

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Sometimes, our weaknesses and the things that we aren't so good at, are the base of having a unique and individual language.

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I think a lot about the process of my studies and my personal development as an illustrator. This process is divided into two parts: the illustrator, the one who needs to start a new illustration/project every time, find or look for inspiration, choose an idea, play around with color palettes and compositions and then I remember some professional advice my professors gave me throughout my studies. At the same time, I need to think like an entrepreneur, where I need to put prices on my work and make time to talk to clients.

Surprisingly, one of the tips that reassured me and gave me the confidence in working with clients is that it's okay to simply say no. It's okay to refuse to projects that don't feel right or resonate with me and to just trust my gut instinct. I know that I need to continue being professional, work hard doing only what I believe in and to know and believe that good things will come. I must add old but good advice that I still use, from a very loved professor, Itzik Rennert- When you're not sure about a color palette or composition - try adding red, it always helps.

How did you develop your style as an illustrator and what tips would you have for others?

At a certain point in my studies I realized I’m not very interested in realistic drawing and perspective. My stronger points are shape and color. I looked for techniques that would feel natural and which I can develop while I grow as an artist. My greatest love is paper cuttings; something about it feels organic to just like holding a pencil. I love working with geometrical shapes and solid colors, and paper allows me that freedom. Even when working digitally I create a set of rules borrowed from my experience with paper cutting. I like to decide on very clear rules for the process of each work, such as a simple color palette or a composition that is based on simple shapes. As I mentioned I work with all kinds of techniques- drawing, watercolor, paper cutouts and digital illustration. I choose which technique to use according to the needs of each project and client. I think that the most important thing in an illustrations development and creation process is to truly understand your strengths and strong points and know how to use them wisely. Sometimes, our weaknesses and the things that we aren't so good at, are the base of having a unique and individual language.

Any passion projects/collabs you would like to share?

Fashion illustration is one of the things that I love and enjoy doing most. I would love working more with different textiles and fashion designers and would love to collaborate with brands that I connect and relate to. The projects that I enjoy most are usually collaborations with talented artists from all kinds of fields, who inspire me and my desire to create. A collaboration that will soon be revealed with an artist and a pastry chef that I admire, is just one example, All that and more coming soon :)

Website: yaliziv.com

Instagram: @yaliziv

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