Hello, Shira. Welcome to Māgoa and thank you for agreeing to this interview. We are really honored to present such a talent to our online readers.
Could you quickly introduce yourself in a few short sentences? Who you are, what you do at the moment and where are you from?
My name is Shira Barzilay – AKA KOKETIT. I am an artist based in Tel Aviv, Israel. 36-years-old. Single and fabulous.
How would you describe your beginnings in the creative field? Was this the career path you have always wanted or is it different from what you have imagined it to be?
I had plans to become a fashion designer and so I got myself a bachelor’s degree from the Shenkar Institute of engineering and design in Tel Aviv, Israel. After I graduated, I decided to become a fashion illustrator and turn it into a career. This path led me to all the wonderful things I do today.
What first got you interested in being an artist and what was it that made you start designing professionally?
Because my background is in fashion and illustration rather than the art world, I have a much more commercial approach to art. I am very aware of my surroundings and often collaborate with other brands.
What is the meaning behind the name KOKETIT?
Koketit is French slang for stylish girl.
How did you develop your distinctive visual language which we see in your work today? Did you know it since the very beginning or was it more of a gradual process?
I have always sketched this girlish figure that had very distinctive facial features. Big eyes, red lips. She was always present in all my sketchbooks even before my fashion illustration days. I nicknamed her Koketit – and she has grown and changed with me throughout the years. She evolves as I evolve.
This past year my style became less figurative and more expressive and minimalistic. I have started to enjoy abstractions and preciseness that portray a strong message that strikes you. Maybe it is a process of maturity.
How do you come up with an idea and what is your working method?
I have a ritual where I sit down at home and look for inspiring photos. I collect them and once I feel like an idea is bubbling up the surface, I start drawing in the hope that lady muse will grace me with her presence. Sometimes a session can last a few hours, and sometimes, I can feel totally un inspired and so I have to let it go and do something else. It has to come to me.
Other methods for inspiration are to go live on Instagram story. Drawing in front of a crowd always gets me going. I love getting feedback from my followers. Once I even drew a painting with colors my followers recommended. It turned out to be a joined piece! Exciting stuff.
What tools do you use most often?
I mostly use my beloved iPad Pro. It is an amazing tablet with incredible painting and illustration apps. I love Procreate, sketches, sketchbook and artrage the most.
You draw on everything – clothes, mirrors, shoes, walls, canvases, etc. But what would be your “canvas” of choice?
Most people don’t realize that I don’t actually draw on these objects – rather than on the photo itself. It is a little trick I use to create things more often. We live in a digital world anyhow. Who’s to say if what I made really exists in real life. I love to create fast and this helps me maintain that speed.
What does your typical workday look like?
I have a studio and also work as a graphic editor for a fashion magazine. I am constantly juggling between different projects, so the studio is my world.
How would you describe your personal style as well as design aesthetic – do they correlate or are completely different from each other?
I have different styles for different moods, but my most recent style feels the most authentic to me. The one-line drawing. It Is the purest most intuitive form of sketching. I love to say so much with so little. I also love to collaborate with other artists, photographers, designers and layer my work on top of theirs.
How do you motivate yourself, when you are stuck creatively?
There is nothing to do, when I get stuck. I have to leave it and come back to it later.
Can you remember some of your earliest influences and what inspires you today?
I was a huge Versace fan back in the fashion illustration days. It was all about more is more. Now, I am really into Picasso and Matisse – which often is less is more. So, I think I have come a long way.
How have you and your work evolved over time?
Through the process of elimination. When I was younger, I was eager to try everything, I loved everything. With time, I learned to cleanse my palette, learning to let go of in necessary details. Focusing on what is more interesting. Connecting more to myself and my message, and perfecting my craft.
What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
Right now, I am really into animation, bringing my art to life. So many possibilities! Also, performance art is a big interest of mine and I would love to perform live with my art throughout the world.
Being an artist it’s sometimes hard to make ends meet. How do you battle this challenge, and what advice would you give to other creatives?
It is not enough to have a skill and be good at it – it is putting it into context that’s the trick. I have a very keen commercial sense, that I use to come up with projects that will be well funded and that will have a demand. One example is that I illustrate live at events. I create on the spot portraits of guests as a fun artistic content at business and private events.
What would you say is the most challenging aspect of your career?
Marketing can be challenging sometimes. Managing my time well is a huge issue.
How much has social media impacted your work? What is your approach to this? Do you think that your social media presence helps in gaining commissions?
Instagram is the best thing that has happened to me, pretty much. I get to showcase my art to the world and it is an amazing platform for my creativity.
What’s the best thing someone said about your work?
That my work is inspiring to them and that it made them start/go back to paint or draw. I love hearing that!
What has been your greatest achievement so far and what would you like to achieve this year?
Honestly, I am just really excited about all the different project I have coming up and the possibilities they hold. I want to explore the world, travel and spread my message of creativity.
What’s next for you? Any upcoming projects you would like to share with us?
I would just say stay tuned!
Shira, thank you very much for your time and answers. The best of luck with your career and upcoming projects!