Face Values: creativity and intuition with the artist Shira Barzilay

Shira Barzilay Koketit

We really lucked out getting the artist Shira Barzilay (aka Koketit) to create special artworks to illustrate my beauty book, Face Values. Her linear ‘doodle poetry’ added a beautiful gentle dimension to the text-heavy sections and she interpreted our themes spontaneously, just letting her imagination lead. I was so impressed and enthralled with her work and – as always – keen to know how the magic happens. So, I’m very glad she indulged me with this Q&A. Do check out her work on IG if you don’t know it already @koketit and enjoy learning more about her creative process and artistic intuition below…

DISNEYROLLERGIRL: How would you describe your work?

SHIRA BARZILAY: I believe that context is everything so throughout the story I’m telling, I merge abstract and feminine minimalistic lines with almost a sensual twist, with images that inspire me, to create an outcome that has a life of its own. I try to reveal the unseen and eliminate the unnecessary.

DRG; Did you always know that you would be an artist?
SB: I grew up in a predominantly artistic environment and was encouraged to seek my talent and passion from a young age. I’ve always loved to draw, so it was apparent pretty early on that it would be my main source of expression. I studied fashion design and was a freelance fashion illustrator and graphic editor for a while until shifting my focus towards my art. One thing led to the other, so I couldn’t get from A-Z without all those experiences in between. I only realized that I am an artist when I gained a large following on Instagram and had often been asked where my art can be purchased. That gave me the confidence I lacked that my art doesn’t need to illustrate anything else but my own inner voice.


DRG: Which mediums do you like to use?
SB: I love drawing digitally and often use my iPad Pro, and recently started working with The YOGA computer/ tablet by Lenovo. I love working with the Procreate app. When you find something that works you stick to it – although I do love exploring new mediums. I also do canvas work with acrylics and love working with markers.

DRG: How did you decide to translate the brief for Face Values? What is the process like illustrating a book commission?
SB: At first, I read the book and try to get a feel of its message. I wanted to create something very organic and natural – not forced. I tried to convey a sense of easiness of effortlessness in the drawings, to show that beauty at its best is just like that. Effortless. It was a very intuitive process. I do not intellectualize my work and never plan ahead. I just get in the rhythm of the flow and let it come out.

Face Values book by Navaz Batliwalla with artwork by Shira Barzilay aka Koketit
Face Values book with artwork by Shira Barzilay aka Koketit

DRG: Tell us about your thought process for the cover.
SB: I don’t really plan for it and I think that is the difference between an illustrator/graphic designer and an artist. There is no planning involved as it’s purely intuitive. I create different drawings on a whim and then choose my favourite ones that resonate best with the text. It’s all very fast paced, very flowy. It’s the only way I know how to work.

DRG: What are some of the challenges of a commission like this?
SB: The biggest challenge is to make sure your art communicates the message well, so it resonates with the reader. It’s not an art gallery so you need to consider the context of the text.

Face Values book with artwork by Shira Barzilay aka Koketit
Face Values book by Navaz Batliwalla- back cover illustrated by Shira Barzilay

DRG: And now tell me a little about your beauty rituals and routines – what do you like to do to help you feel and look your best?
SB: I work out 3-4 times a week to keep my body in the best shape as well as maintain a balanced diet. I try to stay away from sugar and carbs as much as I can but also cheat quite a lot. I try to drink a lot of water and use organic soaps and lotion. But my biggest challenge Is to remove my make-up before passing out at night.

DRG: Are there any ancestral beauty or wellbeing rituals from your Israeli heritage that are important here?
SB: Drink a lot of water. In the very hot climate of Israel, it is super important.

DRG: Do you have any ‘bad’ beauty habits?
SB: I don’t consider it bad, but I do a chemical blowout on my hair and also do Botox. Although it’s not the healthiest of rituals, it helps me feel good about myself and boosts my self-confidence and sense of well-being. So I’m good with that.

DRG: What does your beauty ‘space’ look like?
SB: My bedroom is all white and has some of my art on the wall. I have a big vanity – the same one I’ve had since age 13 – which makes me feel like a princess, and all my beauty products are on it.

DRG: Can you tell us a little about your brand, Koketit? How do you use social media to inform your work and engage your audience?
SB: Koketit – derived from the work coquettish – means flirty and girly. It started as a fashion blog, turned into a temporary tattoo line and eventually became my official artist’s name. A few years ago, I made a strategic plan to grow my brand on Instagram as a tool for exposing my art to the world. It is the single most important tool in my professional life and is the source of all my work and success.

DRG: What are your ambitions for Koketit?
SB: To keep making art and growing towards interesting adventures.

WORDS: Disneyrollergirl / Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Shira Barzilay x 2; Shira Barzilay for Face Values x 4; Shira Barzilay
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my privacy and cookies policy here

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