The female form has been penned to paper for centuries, artists just can’t seem to get enough of the curves of a beautiful woman. Illustrator Jenny Liz Rome‘s modern but abstract vision encapsulates such leading ladies, where she fuses her own photography with found images, taking fragments of the female form and weaving them together to make a whole. Fashionable, yet quite primal in a way, her characters linger with a brazen sensuality. Have a read of her interview!
LF: You’re quite adept at figure drawing. Why such a focus on the female figure, in particular?
JR: Many people identify my work as 100% drawing, but the bodies and faces in my images are actually collaged from photographs. I started by taking images of my friends, and have since began combining my own photography with found images. In almost all of my work, you’re not looking at one woman who actually exists. I make each girl with fragments of bodies and portraits. Working that way gives me the freedom to create an entirely new human being, and body shape. In any given image, you may be looking at the parts of 3-5 different people. I focus mainly on the female form, because it’s the perfect canvas.
LF: A head piece or hair plume seems to dominate in your work, sometimes even covering the face. What’s this all about?
JR: I love hair. It’s funny though, because I spend way more time creating it then taking care of my own. I find it much easier to draw a ridiculous mane on a dancing woman with bear shoulders then it is to comb through my knots. I like to cover eyes to leave a sense of mystery in the image. Eyes are so personal.
LF: B&W vs. color?
JR: Ohhhhhh. Ummmmm. Hardest question. For about 2 years I was obsessed with B&W. I thought to myself, ” Pffff, why does anyone work in color? B&W is so sexy.” If you have seen my recent stuff, clearly I am changing my mind. Color is really becoming a huge part of my process. I am using watercolors right now, and it’s way sweet. I haven’t had stained pink and blue finger nails since University. It feels pretty refreshing.
LF: You have cited themes of femininity, raw animal nature and surreal fashion in your work. What inspires you most in these areas?
JR: I have always been very interested in a humans potential to be a very primal creature. I named my last series (beginning with the woman dawning bear and lion shoulders) “Lady Of The Flies.” We were made to read William Golding’s “Lord Of The Flies” in high school, and it really grossed me out at the time. The idea of what young children could be capable of, if taken out of modern society, was unsettling. I decided to take that idea of unforgiving primal roots and create a fashion line from it. Kind of a strange jumping off point, but it gave me a lot of inspiration. I tend to design a fantasy wardrobe that I wish i had to courage/means to wear myself. With such little opportunity to dress how I really want, I find myself pining for Halloween.
LF: You’re work is a multi-layered process. Can you talk about the tools you use to to get there?
JR: Well , I start with several images. Some of my friends and some found images, that I find in magazines or on the Internet. I pull the images into Photoshop – and make what might be best described as “Frankenstein’s Wife” – as I make a new person out of several people. Once I lay the groundwork for the body, I start on the hand drawing portion. Drawing details like the hair, pieces for the outfits, the feathers, the flowers, etc. which will later be digitally composited. For a lot of my recent work, I’m also adding a color portion, so i get to play around with water color for a while. I scan all of my hand work into my computer and play with composition until my eyes hurt, or notice I’m getting really thirsty. Lately I have been printing the almost complete product, and giving it one last layer of pen work, to get a nice illustrative finish.
LF: What do you do when you’re not drawing sexy ladies?
JR: Play tennis, play with cats, go swimming, go to concerts, travel.
LF: How to you get off, literally or figuratively?
JR: Pressing the “Flatten Layers” button on Photoshop, when I’m finished with an image.
LF: How fast do you live?
JR: It’s hard to sit still. I have a lot of hyper energy. Except at 2 p.m. when I need a cat nap.