Meet Rebecca Dayan, The Artist Behind Our March Magalog

Rebecca Dayan is an artistic powerhouse. If the name sounds familiar, it should, as we first introduced you to the actress/artist/model/muse back in August, for the launch of our first Magalog. This month she’s graced the pages of Free People’s Magalog for the second time, not with her gorgeous and enviable French style, but with her artistic talent (which, it should be said, is equally gorgeous, equally intriguing). Her watercolor designs ebb and flow throughout the first portion of the book, the wings of butterflies and insects of all kinds wandering in and out of frame, an organic counterpoint to the sporty looks modeled by Cat McNeil that share the same space.

Curious about the process and inspiration behind these artistic visions, we recently caught up with Rebecca to get the details. In her sunlit studio, paper, ink, brushes and paint inhabited every surface, intermingling with pieces in various forms of completion, some nearing fruition, some still in the early stages of conception. Read on to learn more about this talented soul, and take a peek into the space where her work comes to life:

Interview by FPJulie, Photos by FPJoanna

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For this issue of our Magalog, you created the gorgeous artwork that graces the first portion of the pages. As an actress/artist/model/designer, do you prefer to work behind the scenes or in front of the lens?

I enjoy both equally.

All these disciplines correspond to different aspects of my personality, all fuel each other and complete one another. I have yet to find a project where I could combine working in front of the lens and behind the scenes.

What was your inspiration for the work featured in the March Magalog? Could you share a bit of your creative process?

The idea was to enhance the content and not overpower it, therefore I mostly used graphite to make the colors of the clothes pop. I have always loved insects as a decorative element, whether in my drawing or as inspiration for the objects I collect (my favorite piece of jewelry that I own is a gold and diamond bee ring) there is something that is both very graphic and very delicate about the representation of insects. For this work I also used lines that are entangled and twisted to create an accidental pattern, giving a sense of movement and texture — like a piece of fabric. It was very spontaneous — I had fun with it really — it was also my first time doing something like that.

Are there challenges that arise when working in so many creative realms? How do you find balance?

Working in many creative fields can be challenging in the sense that it can feel like chasing too many rabbits at once. The time you spend doing one thing, you don’t spend doing the other, so you move at a slower pace.

Acting remains my main endeavor, but when you begin your career there is a lot of idle time, so it is necessary, I think, to engage in other creative projects. When I paint, I get lost in my own world, it’s a more solitary process than acting or modelling and that is something I need to have balance.

Sometimes I can combine both, for instance I was asked to create a watercolor that would be used for the artwork of the film H, directed by Rania Attieh and Daniel Garcia, in which I play the lead.

I think the balance comes from accepting that there is a time for each thing, and having many outlets is a way of avoiding the negative feeling we have when something isn’t evolving as fast as we wished.

Where do you seek inspiration for your artwork?

My personal work consists mainly of portraits and self-portraits. Similarly to what interests me in cinema, I like to study a character and tell a story through that character. I find inspiration in the people around me and in the characters I create.

Do you have specific artists whose work you admire?

Many… Egon Schiele, Henry Darger, Cindy Sherman, Elizabeth Peyton, Karen Kilimnik, Tracey Emin… to name only a few.

Have you always preferred watercolor or have you dabbled in other mediums?

I love the delicate, stain-like feel of watercolor, I like that it is fast and I can travel with it and easily set up anywhere. I mostly use it on paper that isn’t made for watercolor though. I started using watercolor only recently, before that I mainly used charcoal and graphite. Lately I have been interested in working with oil, but I need to find a class because I’ve never used this medium and it is a bit trickier than I thought!

What songs are you listening to right now? Any favorites you like to listen to while working?

Summer Cannibals” by Patti Smith

“West Country Girl” by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds

“Planet Queen” by T.Rex

“Baby” by Donnie and Joe Emerson

“I’m On Fire” By Chromatics

… and anything Fiona Apple

I try to make playlists but I usually just put music on shuffle. I listen to podcasts or ebooks while I work, too.

What’s on the horizon for you?

I did a series of watercolor portraits for my friend’s new magazine that is coming out at the end of march called UNEMPLOYED. I am working on a few different projects with brands and some private commissions as well. On the acting side, I just finished filming Brady Corbet’s film The Childhood Of A Leader, and I am now ready for a new exciting project to work on!

Finally, what does ‘Free’ mean to you?

Being fearless and vulnerable.

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Thank you Rebecca!

Follow Rebecca on Instagram and be sure to visit her website for more gorgeous work!

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