Pencil shading and fine details, hair drawn strand by strand and all that work covered by paint smears and ink!? Your work is finished as you say a “happy accident”—where did happy accidents come from and are they always happy?  Also, can you please introduce yourself?

The pencil has been my favorite medium since I first started drawing as a kid, and I naturally gravitate towards realistic drawing so when I first got into it some 15 years ago it just stuck and has become the base of most of my work ever since. However I never feel that I am fully "learned" so I try to experiment with different mediums to keep myself on my toes and try to grow within my own expression, so I guess that's where the "happy accidents" come into the picture... Trying, experimenting and sometimes (often) failing is part of the process and the accidents are in no way always happy. haha. But every once in a while it works out and I pave a new path, which leads to an extension in how I work..

I'm Esra, a half Norwegian/half Turkish illustrator living and working in Oslo Norway. I work with mixed media and do all kinds of illustration though my roots are in fashion illustration.

Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way?

All the time..I think that everyone working within the creative field feels self-conscious about one's own work from time. There are days when I feel like I don't know how to draw at all. haha. 

How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?

I try to find inspiration around me. Whenever I am in a creative rut, I go see exhibitions, listen to music, hang out with inspirational friends, take a long walk or just so something completely else to clear my head. I find that it can help to just step away from whatever project I am struggling for a little while and come back to it with fresh eyes if that makes any sense.

What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why?

I think every woman out there has felt self-conscious about her body at some point in her life. As a female, you are being projected this ideal image of what a woman should be or look like from a super early age and I think it is hard, especially for young girls, not to be affected by that in some way. I have had times where I have felt uncomfortable about my own body, but I try to be forgiving with myself and as I have gotten older I have gotten a lot better at navigating what impressions to take in and what to block out.. 

What inspires your experimental style of art? What’s the best ways your found that have refined your practice?

I try to experiment with new mediums as often as I can. Although I stay true to my starting point of pencil and ink, I love trying out new things and try to do so as often as I can.

What’s it like being a woman in the creative industry? Do you find that it has its challenges at times?

In the beginning, when I was starting out as an illustrator I found that setting up budgets and putting a price on my own work was the most challenging...Especially in face-to-face meetings with clients where they would ask me to come up with a price on the spot. I don't know if that was because I was a girl or because of my lack of self-esteem at the time, but luckily I now have tough boss babes as agents that deal with all that for me, so I don't have to anymore. hah.

What or who have been some of your main creative influences?

There are many artists that I admire-- some of my all-time favorites are Raymond Pettibon, Vivian Sassen, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. I am also very fortunate to have creative friends that inspire my daily.

What’s your favourite part of your body and why?

My hands. They express my creative vision, and they can also be kind and gentle. I also like my collar bones that make necklaces look great. hah.

What’s your idea of empowerment?

Being your own boss, knowing where you want to go in life and doing what you love. Taking the space you feel you deserve and having confidence in who you are.

What message do you have for those who are struggling with body confidence/self-love/weight or appearance issues? – What’s helped you in the past?

Surround yourself with good supportive people that care about you and appreciate you for who you are on the inside. Oh and also-- try to avoid all those instagram accounts you know are not good for you.

Social media has seemed to normalize showing your body off (quite a lot) publically now – Do you think it’s affecting body image positively or negatively?

There is no denying that the increase of people posting half-naked photos on the internet is adding to what is already a very fucked up society. Showing off your body to get validation from, er, complete strangers on the internet is somehow completely normalised now!?

I get that some might feel empowered by showing off on the internet, and good for them I guess, but it's just not something that appeals to me personally... I know this might sound naive, but I wish we could turn the focus on what people DO instead of what they LOOK like for a change...

INSTAGRAM: @esrarois

Alex Saba