Sporting eyepatches, big bows, crowns, and the latest trends, Jenny Liz Rome’s fashion- forward portraits often reflect her personal desire to break through in the industry. The Ontario-based artist has already collaborated with the likes of Marie Claire and Halo and now has her sights set on bigger things. Cliché talks with Rome about her journey, evolving as an artist, and of course, fashion.
Cliché: Your work epitomizes bold, young women. Where did this trademark begin?
Jenny Liz Rome: It started about three years ago. Before focusing on women, I was mainly making work that focused on wildlife. The “Ladies Of The Flies” series was kind of a segue from animal-inspired works to my current girls. I like the idea of girl/wildlife hybrids, and this is often a theme in my work. I just finished a series called “The Garden Girls.” These ladies have herbs growing from their heads, like hats, and their skin is turning green. Working with girls and fashion as subject matter is endless fun. So many weird possibilities.
What or who inspires you?
Gabriel Moreno, Emma Leonard, Kaitlin Beckett, Sam Yong, Laura Laine, Caroline Andrieu, Ruben Ireland, Keith Rein, Kelly Smith, and lots of other artists. Coffee, wine, pastels, vintage bathing suits, cats, sequins, Madonna, Alexander McQueen, cozy knits, herb gardens, sharks, birds, deer, female lead characters, studs, spikes, pink and blue hair, feathers, fur, snorkeling, Lisa Turtle, gold stuff, lace, fashionable old ladies, and top knots.
Much of your illustrations are influenced by modern style and you’ve already been involved in the fashion industry, working for or with such names as Marie Claire and Halo. What are your future plans or dreams involving fashion?
I so badly want to have a small clothing line one day, or illustrate/design clothing for an existing label. That would be awesome. I just added a sewing machine to the chaos in my studio. I’ll start dabbling with patterns soon.
Do you have a favorite designer?
I really dig Lover. Nic Briand and Susien Chong are the brains behind this delicious Australian clothing label. One day I hope to have a closet full of their stuff. They use a lot of lace and silk. Their monochromatic color schemes are really attractive.
Tell me about your creative process. Does the setting have to be a certain way?
I work in a home studio. It’s very warm, cozy, and quiet. Studio music lately is either Tame Impala, The Growlers, or Polica. I’m usually wearing some form of spandex. You won’t catch me suffering through the restriction of jeans while I’m at home. If it’s morning, I work with a cup of coffee. If it’s night, a glass of red wine. My teeth are going to be so stained when I’m old.
You often use bold lines, soft sketching, and bright watercolors. When did you start playing with these techniques?
I’ve always been a fan of combining mediums. I had to try out a lot of combinations of layering, before I found something that really worked. Most of my illustrations now are photo collages, watercolor, pencil crayon, pen, and sometimes patterned papers. I’ve been working this way for almost two years now.
You’ve given your girls eyepatches and wild animals. What is your most essential accessory?
I dress nothing like my girls. I wish I was as cool as them. My accessories in comparison are boring, although I do sport a pretty lovely pearl ring that my boyfriend bought me. It’s the classiest thing I own. Other than that, I’m pretty partial to red lipstick. I just discovered the new Kate Moss lippy. It’s the best.
You have already worked with such artists as Ruben Ireland; what is the collaboration experience like?
Working with Ruben was a great time. It’s pretty weird that I have never actually met him in person. We worked and corresponded through email and Dropbox. He lives in England, and I’m in Ontario. Marianna was sent back and forth between us for about a month. Ruben worked on her face and body, while I drew out her tattoo and head piece. It was so easy working with him. He’s a very nice guy.
Are there any other artists you would like to work with?
I love Keith Rein. His cheeky pornographic pieces are so great. Also, Fab Ciraolo does really cool work that I’d love to mesh with.
Having already accomplished so much as an artist, what’s next for you?
The idea of a solo show really scares me for some reason, though I think it’s the next step. I’m currently working on large-scale, hand-finished pieces, getting back to the days without digital layering. It’s going to take me forever to have a complete series of them. When I’m done, I’d like to have a solo somewhere. Anywhere.
Images courtesy of Jenny Liz Rome.