English version | Stewing life, a motivational tale
As cinco lições a retirar da terceira temporada de Sex Education
Tendências 2. 9. 2021
Her fine and delicate drawings guide us through an imaginary universe that replicates much of the palpable, and real, universe where we live. But the strength of Shira Barzilay, internationally known as Koketit, lies in knowing there are no limits in (her) imagination. And in always being able to start again.
Her 399 thousand followers know her as Koketit, but her real name is Shira Barzilay. Why this nickname, if we can call it this way? “Koketit means ‘coquettish’ — which means flirty and feminine. Initially it was the name of my then fashion illustration blog. As I grew and changed the name stuck with me and became part of my DNA. It encompasses it all: the world is my canvas because I am constantly flirting with [new] ideas.” Based in Tel Aviv, Israel, the artist fell in love with the smell of paint at an early age, when visiting her aunt's studio. After studying at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art, she embarked on a “more is more” aesthetic, the opposite of the minimalism she now practices. Time was her best advisor. He and Pablo Picasso. “I am guided by the philosophy of Pablo Picasso. His journey, from a realistic more traditional artist into an expressive one, really inspires me. He painted what he felt, not what he saw and that is what I wish to convey as well. I want to show that art is about freedom, not polished technique. Children draw with no judgement, they have conviction that what whatever they’ll do, it will be great. I draw with the same conviction, never planning ahead and letting the lines guide me. I trust in it. And I trust in myself.”
I got a degree in Fashion Design after which I become a fashion illustrator, while working as a graphic editor for a local fashion magazine. I had some gratifying accomplishments, such as collaborating with H&M and Roberto Cavalli, but I always felt like something was missing. I didn’t feel like I have a real voice. Fashion was no longer my sole interest and I needed to expand my horizons. I dabbled in a various product design such as temporary tattoos and illustrated plates. I wanted to create art but lacked confidence, always feeling like my drawings had a right to exit only to serve a utilitarian purpose. Then came Instagram. I began to consistently post artworks that served the specific storyline of “the world is my canvas” and over a relatively short time I gained a huge following. It was through the constant practice of daily posting that helped me accurate myself, as well as see myself more clearly through the eyes of the observers.
Your aesthetic is characterized by clean, abstract, line drawings, where you normally depict silhouettes of women. Why women? Was this signature something that you created on purpose, or did it come to you naturally?
I fell in love with the minimalistic approach after being a maximalist illustrator for most of my life. Going from figurative to expressive abstract happened due to my search for accuracy. As a digital artist — there are virtually no limits to what you can achieve — so eliminating the unnecessary became the matter at hand. There is a certain sophistication in trying to say more by doing less that to me is an intriguing research. This notion is strengthened especially, when intervening with existing photographs, because the tension of changing an existing narrative is much higher when is done with one single small line. I’ve always drawn females. They are curvy, round and more flowy, and that fits perfectly with an intuitive hand that is all about the flow. Also, the work is always a bit autobiographical so bits of pieces of me are manifested in each figure.
I do not take the photographs, rather curate them very rigorously from a wide rights-free database. The process is purely intuitive and in no way methodical. When I’m in a susceptible mood, I start scanning pictures in a meditative-like state. For every one hundred images, I might save ten — and out of those merely three will turn into artworks. It’s a process of elimination.
I want to bring a twist, an element of surprise you didn’t see coming. To reveal a truth that was, perhaps, overlooked, to seek subjectivity to an objective situation. The minimalistic line, to me, is monumental in its simplicity. Takes a certain conviction and confidence to trust “simple.” It needs to be refined but also raw at the same time. In other words, it’s hard to be simple!
I always loved fashion and always will. I was drawn to it because it’s creative, fun and aesthetic. However, I realized that the conventional route of a fashion designer did not suit my personality and set of skills. It’s amazing that now I get to design and enjoy my passion for fashion in a way that is right for me — through my art.
Instagram changed my life. It has helped me grow in more ways than I could ever imagine, and is such an amazing tool for any artist, if used right. I’m so glad I realized its potential early on and strategically invested my time and energy in growing that platform. In my wildest dreams I never imaged it to be where it is today and I am so grateful. I compare Instagram to a well of everlasting life. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Every downfall, every step back, is a potential for a fresh start. As a person who happens to create art for a living, I am on a constant journey of self-growth because otherwise things can get stagnant. It’s important to not carry extra baggage and to travel light and the way to do so is by letting go of old ideas of who we think we are and were. It’s a painful process — but it allows for many new beginnings to occur — subsequently creating a very fresh outtake on everything.
Originally translated from the New Beginnings issue, published September 2021.
Full credits and stories on the print issue.