It’s day 2 of woman crush week, and we’re thrilled to bring you an interview with S6 illustrator Rebecca Flattley. Rebecca’s depictions of femininity feel like real life dipped in pastels. You recognize something of yourself in each of her illustrations, be it expression, attitude or underwear. We asked the self-taught artist to tell us how she developed her recognizable style and to confirm that women all over the world do in fact love Justin Trudeau.
When do you first remember being interested in illustration and design?
Drawing is something I have always just done, since I was very little and knew how to hold a pencil. (I even remember my teachers in primary school boasting about how good my drawings were!) It became more serious as I progressed into high school and I began receiving awards and recognition for my work. But it was only after I had completed my course at University and my teachers expressed how strong my skills were that I began taking it seriously.
You are clearly a very skilled artist, and your depictions of women are almost photorealistic. Are you self-taught? How did you refine your technique so much?
Yes I am completely self taught, although I do have to give some credit to my teachers from school for giving me little tips and tricks here and there. I always aim to make my realism portraits as detailed as possible, I always try to be very articulate when paying attention to detail in someon’s face, it’s those tiny little lines or spots that bring a face to life. It’s so true what they say, practice does make perfect and although I am not perfect, I do practice as often as I can to help refine my technique.
What is the hardest part of the face for you to draw?
I don’t particularly find any part of the face difficult to draw, for me it’s more about accuracy within details. Its about patience in making sure the little things all come together to bring a face to life, focusing on little areas on a large scale so when you step back and see the whole picture you see what appears as realistic. Realism is a style I stuck with for a long time, something I would spend hours upon hours doing. I began to become very unamused with drawing attractive people, in particular females. After finishing high school I realised there was more to a beautiful face and along with not having time to dedicate to portraiture anymore I began developing the line work illustrations I do now.
I love the sort of “half-finished” approach to your pieces; it makes them very distinctive and unique. Can you tell me how you landed on this style?
Following on from my answer above, this half finished approach came about because I merely just didn’t have the time to finish my drawings in between studying and work. It’s as simple as that. Although I loved inspecting faces and had an eye for detail, it was nice to let my hand flow with a pen and just let the lines come together. It was at this time that I also began my new style of just simple line work and digital colouring so I mashed the styles of realism, line work and digital colour to create the half-finished look. I’m also horrible at creating tone and contrast when it comes to hair so lines were just an easy solution and so the half-finished style came about out of pure convenience.
Your soft color palette is the stuff of dreams. Do you think you’ll always work in pastels or do you ever want to branch out to bolder colors?
I have always enjoyed using quite subdued colours, they are bold yet soft at the same time, they aren’t too overpowering in my artworks and add a sense of warmth and femininity. I find that the colour palette I use is quite calming and soothing. However, the colours and style of my work change with the seasons and what’s in trend (along with my mood or concept). Autumn has just begun here in Australia so I’m excited to start incorporating deeper, warmer tones of orange, reds and browns into my work. It might be nice to slowly stagger away from the poppy, pastel blush tones of spring and summer.
Do you feel that being Australian inspires or influences your artwork in any way?
No, I don’t feel that being Australian inspires or influences me. I’m from a very multicultural part of Melbourne where being Australian means to just be you, stand up for your own beliefs and morals. I do however feel that being a female who has been surrounded by females for most of her life has had a lot of influence. However, the city of Melbourne is a very artsy and trendy place where art, design and music are such a special part of its culture. I’m so grateful to be living somewhere where the creative industry is so well respected and appreciated.
Tell me about your process. How do you start a piece? Do you like to work with music or TV in the background? How do you know when you’re “finished”?
In relation to my recent illustrations, my inspiration is a combination of reference imagery I find online and something relatable to either myself or females in general. I usually begin my set up by opening my windows, allowing lots of light into my room. I also like to make myself a cup of tea or a latte to sip on while I’m illustrating. I find it difficult to work in utter silence, I have to always be jamming out to my new music discoveries while I’m drawing or listening to a podcast of people having a good ‘ole chit-chat about anything and everything. It helps distract my mind while my hands do the work.
What advice would you give young creatives who want to make something, but aren’t sure where to start?
As someone who has never been able to stick to one style of illustration, I want young creatives to know that it’s okay to develop various styles. Embrace all the talents and skills you have, make sure you just do you! If you do have various art styles, try to mesh them together; experimenting is so important when wanting to stand out amongst other creatives. Try using different materials and mediums, see what works best in your own grip whether it be pencils, paint brushes or a computer mouse. Figure out what you want your art to be about, ask yourself questions, will it be based on the past? The present? Future? Something you’re enthusiastic or passionate about, do you want it to represent deeper meanings or do you want to create art based purely on colour, technique or aesthetic? One of my favourite quotes by street artist Banksy states that “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”Just decide what you want your art to reflect and how you’d like people to respond to it.
Your work is particularly feminine and often depicts women. Would you consider yourself a feminist artist? If so, do you find art a helpful platform to spread the ideas of female empowerment?
I don’t consider myself an extreme feminist, but I do so strongly believe in female empowerment and equality for women. I tend to depict females more often I guess because my life is so female-dominated and I understand and can relate to various types of women. I like to leave my work open for interpretation so that females can find their own sense of relevance, whether it be confidence, empowerment, something a little cheeky and mischievous. I also hope they just enjoy my work for aesthetic reasons! It’s truly is a beautiful feeling knowing my work is helping unite and empower women and (hopefully!) making a difference for social change.
Answer these, quick!
Favorite historical artist:
The art of Roy Lichtenstein is so iconic, his portrayal of women through his pop art style shows feminism in a very different era to ours but it’s still so relatable to this day and age.
Popular TV show you just can’t get into:
This is a tough one, there are so many I just haven’t given a chance to yet! Immediately I think of Breaking Bad, I totally understand why it’s so popular but I could never get into it. First chance I get I need to sit and binge a bunch of new shows!
Country you’d most like to visit:
Canada would be such a sight, everything about Canada seems so beautiful, including its current Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau. I’m definitely a fan of the colder weather so Scandinavia and the UK are on my to travel to list.