About the interviewer: Gabriella Alziari is the new artist interviewer at IFWA. She is pursuing a BA at Kenyon College in English Literature, and has just returned from a year abroad at The University of Oxford. She has a passion for exploring the variety of ways in which artists approach their creative processes. In the past, she has published articles for Splash Magazines, and keeps poetry, travel, and photography blogs in her free time.
Below is her interview with Natalie Shau, a digital mixed media artist. Enjoy!
“I do not choose my characters, they choose me. I can’t explain how this happens.”
Natalie Shau is a mixed media artist with a passion for digital illustration, portrait photography and photo art. Apart from her personal work, she also enjoys collaborating with musicians, theaters, fashion magazines, advertisers and writers. The International Foundation for Women Artists discovered her work at the Last Rites Gallery in New York, NY.
Tell us about your artwork.
My works are digital mixed media. I mix photography, 3D elements, vector elements and digital drawing. I also enjoy creating surreal and fashion photography. My photography and digital works are often surreal portraits of women; however, I love portraying animals sometimes.
Do you aim to create a certain tone in your illustrations? If so, why did you choose that tone specifically?
My works are pretty motionless and doll-like, but they express the burden of waiting, and the inner conflict that boils within my characters. You can sense that in their expressions or in some contradictory elements or symbols hidden in the work.
Is there a reason that most of your illustrations and images are of women?
I do not choose my characters, they choose me. I can’t explain how this happens.
Which artists inspire you?
Alexander McQueen, Eiko Ishioka, Trevor Brown, etc.
Describe your creative process.
I have a flash of an idea or vision and, after exploring it in my mind, I try to sketch it and see if I can express it. I collect all the materials I need for that, take portraits, photograph elements, find any elements needed, and then I start working on a piece.
Do you have a favorite medium to work with?
How have you grown as an artist over the course of your career?
I think viewers can say more about that; I just create new pieces and enjoy the process very much.
Is it challenging to be a woman in your field? How have you risen above these challenges?
I do not think it makes any difference nowadays when you promote your artwork on the web. Maybe in some other fields it is more challenging, but not the way I do it.
Are you working on any projects currently?
Yes, I am planning to work on a new book cover for my dear friend and the wonderful New York writer Tonya Hurley, the author of the great book series ghostgirl and The Blessed.
If you had to give advice to an aspiring woman artist, what would it be?
Do not listen to haters or people who try to discourage you, just create and enjoy the process! Believe in yourself and others will start to believe in you too!