POST MODERN Avery Nejam, Aaron Favaloro, and Belle Langford are leading a new generation of Instagram illustrators. By Louisa De Kievit.
Instagram is training our eye, making us more discerning consumers of the vibrant online gallery at our fingertips. Our screenflicking thumbs are getting so quick that only the most alluring pictures now hold our attention. At BAZAAR, we’re currently loving the explosion of rogue illustrators who infuse their arresting works with a tongue-in-cheek charm, such as US-based @AveryNejam, and Sydney’s @AaronFavaloro and @HellaBlissed.
In February this year, 23-year-old Avery Nejam from Jackson, Mississippi, uploaded to Instagram a digital illustration of Lupita Nyong’o in a shock of green Christian Dior (the dress she wore to the BAFTAs) set against a sea of red (carpet). At the time, the actor was on the brink of superstardom, with the world’s media keeping a close watch on her every fashion move, so when she regrammed the cartoonlike portrait along with a comment, “OK, this is HOT”, people took notice. US BAZAAR’s executive editor, Laura Brown, was charmed by the piece. “It was just so incredibly graphic and confident,” she recalls, “and I immediately started following [Nejam] and pounced on her to do illustrations for BAZAAR. Avery is a true original.” Now the artist works with Brown on Chic of the Week, an online column in which she taps into the zeitgeist by lacing together the top-trending images in our collective psyche with her own popesque touch, for example, Kimye’s wedding, posted at the peak of the hysteria surrounding it.
Nejam works around the clock, to ensure her content is up-to-theminute. “That’s what’s so beautiful about social media,” she says. “If you’re going to be a pop artist and you’re not keeping it current, then what are you doing this for? It’s a big part of how I work and how I gain traction.” Nejam studied illustration at Parsons The New School for Design in New York and is also trained in fine arts and screenprinting. She spent three years honing her skills before falling seriously ill and having to give up the artform. Then she took up the philosophy “What would Warhol do?” Digital art was the answer. Instagram has enabled her to not only create the work but also act as curator, dealer, marketer, and retailer, all online. Next up, she’s heading to Art Basel Miami Beach with US BAZAAR for a special project. Watch her next move on Instagram.
Australian artist Aaron Favaloro finds that his most inspired design concepts come to him when riding waves at home on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. That’s where his lightbulb moment came for the Moschino girls styled as French Fries, which generated huge buzz on social media – adored by Moschino HQ, and regrammed by its creative director, Jeremy Scott. “Sometimes I just know what’s going to work and cause a reaction, and I’m out there in the surf talking to my mates about fashion and they just roll their eyes at me,” he says with a laugh. After studying fashion design for a year, Favaloro left to work for David Jones, moving into visual merchandising for its Northern Beaches store, where he spent four years. When the picture-sharing app really took off in 2011, he spotted an opportunity to develop a business. “I can’t believe I’ve been able to run a company through Instagram,” he says now. “It’s the only source of business I’ve had, along with word of mouth, and I’ve been able to bring someone in full-time off the back of that.”
Dries Van Noten Pre- Fall ’15 by Aaron Favaloro Valentino Pre- Fall ’15 by Aaron Favaloro