Illustrations are nothing without sturdy backstories; the raw truths behind the fantastical drawings, shining buoyant light on the not-so-effervescent facts of life. To recreate with rounded optimism and smooth, flawless shading takes a lot: A patient, observant eye; a faculty for understanding one’s surroundings in physicality and sentiments; and the ability to adapt the living in a particularly elegant visual form for the varied public eye of the masses. And just like that, Brooklyn-via-Mexico City illustrator Rachel Levit effortlessly bridges the gap between the living and their rendered counterparts.
With a delicate eye when depicting her subjects, Levit has made that seamless transition a career, boasting editorial work for The New York Times, Vice, Lucky Peach and more. Using a strikingly simple color palette and pairing the inclusive black and white with vital colorful details, Levit plays with faces and emotions often coupling unmoved faces with telling props—a realm of personal understanding built on great awareness and skill. One distinct subject dear to Levit’s heart (and ours, admiringly) is the female in her copious forms. With an ease and elegance seldom seen, Levit alludes the utmost strength in her winsome women.
When you catch yourself doodling, what do you usually find? Is there one image/idea that you find yourself subconsciously coming back to?
Well I studied illustration at university. And I was interested in editorial work because I love books and magazines. I find that it’s a way to communicate clearly with an audience. My style has always been illustrative so it wasn’t a conscious decision but more like a natural and seamless transition.
By showing my work on the internet and reaching out to art directors. I still feel like I am starting.
For commission work I work with a brush and sumi ink. All black and white. Then I photoshop the color, but all my lines are done by hand. When I am working on personal work, I tend to experiment more with gouache and watercolor. I like to have an original piece in the end.
Everywhere, from real life to books, movies and magazines.
I went to school with Leah Goren the founder of the zine. She asked if I wanted to get involved and i loved the idea. Now I share a studio with her and other artists in Brooklyn. It’s very important to be surrounded by talented and productive people.