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Meeting with the artist Laura Gulshani

Fashion Painter

Meeting with the artist Laura Gulshani - illustration 1

Pastel flowers, slender, model-like silhouettes and pop colours… Welcome to the world of young Canadian artist Laura Gulshani, a fashion illustrator like no other! She answered our questions.

Could you tell us more about your career history?

I never really knew for sure what my career path would be; all I was sure of is that I loved art class and watching Fashion Television (FT) with Jeanne Beker back home in Toronto. Since I can remember, I've been sketching and painting in my spare time but was hesitant to work towards a career in the art field because I wasn't convinced that I was good enough. After graduating completing a degree in Fashion Communication from Ryerson University, I did a bunch of internships in fashion PR, visual merchandising and journalism; the latter being another interest of mine. I landed a job as a copywriter, and for two years wrote during the day and painted at night, posting my paintings on Instagram. I started gaining enough commissions that I was able to make the switch to painting full-time and copywriting on the side, which I still do.

How does your inspiration/motivation to paint first arise?

Sometimes I'll see an image on Instagram of an amazing fashion item, or see a girl walking down the street wearing something cool, or see a composition from real life that I want to recreate, or sometimes even an idea will pop into my head just as I'm falling asleep! I'll usually do a *very* rough sketch, I don't really like to do drafts even though I know I should....

You said you love Matisse, but what particularly do you love about his work?

What I really love about Matisse's work is the joy that his paintings exude and the effortless look of the brushstrokes and his rendering of objects. One of his quotes say something like, people don't realize how much pain or work I put in behind each painting because they look so effortless to achieve, which makes me appreciate his work even more. His colour combinations were as modern then as they are now, and so is his coordination of patterns and abstraction of faces and shapes. I know some have derived deep symbolism from some of his paintings, but to me it just feels like a man who enjoys and appreciates life and painting. 

Which contemporary artists inspire you?

I really love Andy Dixon, David Hockey, Pegge Hopper and Pierre Boncompain. Their colour palettes are fantasy-like, and I really admire their work for being so playful but at the same time very refined and well executed

Meeting with the artist Laura Gulshani - illustration 1
Meeting with the artist Laura Gulshani - illustration 1

What do you think about fashion interacting with art?

I think that fashion is basically art in a 3D manner, especially when it comes to certain designers like Mary Katrantzou, Valentino, Giambattista Valli, etc. who create incredibly sculptural/voluminous garments that look like they belong in Renaissance paintings. But speaking in terms of art in a 2D form, it has been wonderful to see brands collaborate with artists on advertising campaigns, textile prints, accessories designs and so forth. Each artist brings something unique to the table and so it allows brands to create something completely unique to their competitor. 

You use the internet and social media to develop your career, control your image and visibility online, how do you think artists shall use the Internet today?

 Social media has been an invaluable tool to help grow my career, and I feel it will continue to be important for all businesses, small or big, for years to come. In terms of how it's used is already changing to focus more on quality over quantity I think (and hope). As well, I've read that there's more of a focus on authenticity and showing your audience both the good and bad days, and in that way building a loyal community that supports your work.

In your artworks, there are lots of flowers, where does this passion come from?

I actually never used to be much of a flower or nature girl, I was always in the city. But after a magical trip to Anapoima, Colombia in 2015, I really became obsessed with escaping to parks to paint, going on long drives through rural Ontario, and googling exotic plants from all over the world. I love the complete tranquility that nature provides, and the breath of fresh air after a lot of time in urban areas. I hope my next vacation spot will be Hawaii because I am currently going through a tropical flower phase.

You paint a lot of women, are they a source of inspiration?

Yes! I had many strong female influences growing up, having a close relationship with my Colombian mom, aunt and grandmother. I've also recently had the great fortune of connecting with the women on my dad's side of the family from the Middle East, and been able to compare both cultures. It's amazing to see that all these women in my life, regardless of the thousands of kilometres between them, hold the exact same resilient, determined, assertive spirit which I admire so much. Women are beautiful inside and out, and I love exploring womens' facial features and tones, and body shapes in my paintings.

Where are your favorite cultural places in the world?

I haven't yet been here, but India seems to be a haven of inspiration, especially for someone like me who loves decorative architecture and intricate patterns. The colours and landscapes of the South of France and the Italian Riviera are regular sources of inspiration for me. I also hope to visit places like Singapore and Hong Kong, where super futuristic urban design meets the exotic jungle.

What advice might you give to other young people who want to become an artist?

Be prepared to have a lot of patience! Good things take time. And no career path is ever straight-forward.

Meeting with the artist Laura Gulshani - illustration 1
Meeting with the artist Laura Gulshani - illustration 1

Their favourite artworks