Bijou Karman is a young and highly talented artist based in Los Angeles. Surrounded by pencils and paints since she was a child and passionate about fashion, her love for clothes and style comes alive in her illustrations. The girls of her drawings capture the viewer's attention with their captivating outfits and mysterious attitude; dreamy and melancholic, they seem to be hiding a beautiful secret. We had the opportunity to speak with Bijou Karman and she revealed to us more details about her work and creations.
When did you have your first contact with art?
I’ve been making art from ever since I can remember. So it must have been in pre-school or before!
How did you get into fashion illustration?
My number one love has always been fashion, my number two, art. So clothes are just naturally inspiring to me and it's what I've always wanted to draw. Fashion illustration is a perfect way to combine both of my passions.
Which artists do you take as a reference?
Laura Laine, Rene Gruau, James Jean, Antonio Lopez, Daniel Egneus, Ingres, Mucha, Coby Whitmore, Joao Ruas, Aron Wiesenfeld, M/M Paris, Allyson Mellberg, Henry Darger, Daniel Clowes, Victor Moscoso, Martin Sharp and Corinne Day. Just to name a few!
Do you have any muse, anyone whose personality and attitude really inspires you?
Jane Birkin and her daughters Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon. Each of them are individual and inspiring in every way, with their own style and personality. They don’t seem to care what others think, they do things how they want to do them!
Is there any book, film or song that has been a strong influence in your art?
I learned to draw the fashion figure with the book “9 Heads” by Nancy Riegelman. That initial foundation has stuck with me ever since.
When you feel blocked, what motivates you to take the pencil again?
Going to see some art, read a book or a good magazine.
What time of the day is your favorite for drawing? Do you have any working ritual you can reveal to us?
It feels great to draw first thing in the morning when the light is at its best, but because my days are so busy I end up not doing that very often. Fortunately I also like working late into the middle of the night because there are no distractions and I can go on drawing for hours. I like to listen to some music while I am working, and burn a candle or some incense.
Did you remember your first published work? How did you feel when you first saw it?
My first published piece was in the LA Times when I was a little kid and took part in some drawing contest and I felt really proud when I saw it!
In your projects you experiment a lot with mixed media and different techniques, do you have any preferred one?
No, not really. I like to work with a variety of media and styles and haven’t settled on a favorite yet.
The girls of your drawings are mysterious and captivating, they often look dreamy and melancholic, as if they were somehow absent. What do they hide behind their appearance?
I love that description!I sometimes think of personalities for them but ultimately, I like to leave it up to the viewer to decide what they could be thinking and who they are.
From the works you have made up to now, which do you feel is the most special?
My “Haunted” series of black and white photographs and etchings is my favorite among everything I’ve done. It is very special to me.
If you could make an exhibition anywhere in the world, which place would you choose?
The Palace of Versailles like Murakami did!
With which fashion designer would you collaborate with without thinking about it twice? Why?
Rei Kawakubo because she is my hero! Her freakish approach to fashion doesn't cease to inspire me.
If you weren't an illustrator, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t focusing on illustration I would want to be a stylist and fashion editor.
And last, what are your plans for the future?
Hopefully lots of work and travel!