By TRILBY BERESFORD | Reporter
One of the joys of this glorious digital age is the opportunity to make creative discoveries on the internet. Los Angeles-based artist Bijou Karman probably didn’t expect Rihanna to stumble upon her work on Instagram, but it spawned a wonderful collaboration that took Karman’s career to the next level.
She was hired to work with Rihanna’s Fenty design team and illustrate the pop queen’s campaign for Stance Socks in 2016. “I love that they chose to use illustration instead of photography to portray her, as not many people do these days,” Karman shared with the Palisadian-Post. “The process came naturally to me, because what I did was take different reference pictures of Rihanna and collage them to create imagined portraits that served as the campaign imagery.” The result is remarkably bold and vibrant.
Karman has scores of other illustrations and paintings under her belt, including commissions for The New Yorker, Nike Airmax, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and Los Angeles Times, to name a few.
Adding to her array of talents, Karman makes zines: “Zines are a fun outlet for me to delve into a topic I’m really interested in.” Recent issues have been about female folk singers, the French actress Anna Karina and women’s outdated beauty standards.
Perhaps now is a good time to mention that Karman is only 26 years old. So what inspires her creative ventures? “I’ve always loved mid-century design—1960s designers like the Eames, Marimekko and Keiichi Tanaamii. That whole time period where design, fashion and music were fun and colorful will always inspire my aesthetic choices. “I reference imagery from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s frequently for color palettes, styles, patterns and subject matter.”
Karman’s work predominantly features women, which is a deliberate choice. “Women’s individuality, strength, style and stories are constant sources of inspiration for me.” Asked if there is an artist who has impacted her in a significant way, Karman cited the work of American painter and sculptor Kerry James Marshall.
Then there is fashion. “There’s always something happening in the world of fashion,” Karman shared energetically. “Right now I’m inspired by small brands like Maryam Nassir Zadeh, Annie Costello Brown, Molly Goddard and Super YAYA.”
For someone with artistic tendencies, Karman emphasized that LA is a great place to be. “Hundreds of independently run art spaces support local artists. I love seeing shows around town in small unexpected galleries.”
With her eye squarely on the future, Karman plans to work with bigger clients on global projects, have gallery exhibitions and eventually launch her own brand.
You can learn more about Karman on Tuesday, May 22, when she is scheduled to give a guest lecture at the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club in conjunction with the Pacific Palisades Art Association from 7 to 9 p.m. Attendance is encouraged—this young artist is going places.