In our Deep Dive series, we take an intimate look at the details, symbolism and inspiration of our artists’ favorite pieces.

Here, we’re diving into the work of fashion illustrator Nicolas Roa as he reveals the meaning behind his drawing “Swan Song”—a piece inspired by his current state of mind, astrological sign and love for classical art.

“Swan Song” by Nicolas Roa Art Print

“Swan Song”
Pencil on Paper

This piece is meant to be a portrayal of my astrological sign, Virgo. I consider myself to be a “textbook” Virgo. We are sensitive, emotional and nurturing. But we also tend to overthink and be overly critical of ourselves.


I admire classical art, especially works that depict religious figures. Johannes Fouchetus’ 15th century oil painting “Virgin & Child Surrounded by Angels” is a constant source of inspiration for me. Also, I aspire to achieve Jan van Eyck’s mastery of symbolism and ability to portray a sense of mystery behind the eyes of his opulently garbed subjects.

Modern influences include Laura Laine, whose beautifully detailed fashion illustrations fueled my passion for the arts and made me pursue my own love of fashion illustration. Also, James Jean and Nicoletta Ceccoli taught me to find wonder and whimsy in my craft.


I’ve tried a lot of different mediums but always end up with pencil and paper. I find every stroke I make on each strand of hair very therapeutic and meditative. Sometimes, I take hours just drawing hair while tuning out and listening to my music.

I like having that soft textured finish to my illustrations. The rough lines and imperfections are intentional. I want to keep my work somewhat raw and almost unfinished. The women in my portraits have a sense of fragility and frailty to them. They’re kind of a way for me to show my own current mental state, emotions and vulnerabilities.

Swan and Arrow

The swan represents love, specifically self-love.

The arrow piercing through the swan represents my doubts and insecurities towards the imperfections of my physical appearance, my intelligence and my talent. I often question people who compliment my looks or my work. I somehow try to discourage them and make them think otherwise, never just accepting praise. This is also the reason why the woman is broken: she’s incomplete and slowly falling apart.


The snake wrapped around the arrow is also a part of me. It’s the part of me that is slowly shedding my skin, changing myself one day at a time, transforming into a better artist and a better human being by learning from my past and appreciating my present. I guess you could say, the snake is trying to pull the arrow out.

Check out Nicolas’ Society6 shop to explore more of his work.

Swan Song Art Print

by Nicolas Roa

Lovely Vice Recessed Framed Print

by Nicolas Roa

Broken Prince Poster

by Nicolas Roa

The Caged Bird Framed Art Print

by Nicolas Roa

Gail Acosta

Writer and Editor