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?

I automatically draw women. It’s something that I have done since i was little.
Have your artwork and illustrations always lent themselves well to editorial work? Or did you at some point make a conscious decision to pursue editorial illustration?

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.

How did you get your start in illustration?

By showing my work on the internet and reaching out to art directors. I still feel like I am starting.

Can you walk us through your process? What tools do you use? Do you do everything by hand?

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.

Where do you find visual inspiration?

Everywhere, from real life to books, movies and magazines.

Tell us about your contributions and collaboration for the Sad Girl zine. How did you originally get involved? It must be great to work with a other insanely talented and cutting-edge female artists.

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.
We see a lot of feminine faces in your work. Do you ever throw self portraits in there? Do you have a favorite subject?
Everybody draws themselves, because we know the proportions of our own face the best. It’s almost unavoidable. I like that effect. I don’t particularly have a favorite subject, I like to draw different things to keep myself interested.
Tell us a little bit about your collaboration Azucar Pastel. 
Azucar Pastel is a project by one of my closest friends Julia, who is a pastry chef. Since we see each other so much, we started to collaborate. She cooks and I decorate cookies, and we are currently selling them as series in  two shops in Mexico City. If she needs a visual she comes to me, and if I need a cake I go to her.
You’ve done a few different things with different mediums now. What’s it like stepping out of your artistic comfort zone? Do you have any dream projects/collaborations?
I wouldn’t say i step out of my comfort zone. I just don’t believe in doing the same thing over and over again. Maybe it’s a an attention deficit disorder, but I like experimenting and learning new mediums. In the future I want to experiment more with animation.
For more from Rachel Levit check out her website and blog, RIen de Rien.