Q&A with Bijou Karman

Q&A with Bijou Karman

Bijou Karman is the LA based illustrator behind the 54 creative cards making up our new Genius Movies card deck. Her illustrations include all of the big names, from Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles to Sofia Coppola and Samuel L. Jackson.

 We caught up with Bijou to discuss her career as an illustrator and learn a little more about her and her life!

How has your journey as an illustrator developed over your career?
When I started out as an Illustrator I felt that I only liked drawing a narrow set of subjects (mainly women, fashion, and plants). As I’ve taken on more unexpected commissions from clients, diverse projects, and challenges, my practice has come to encompass different subjects and media. I have found that there are many more topics outside of the narrow world of women and fashion that I welcome into the world I create through my work.


Where is your favorite place to find inspiration for your projects?
I love looking to the environment around me here in LA. I am always snapping pictures of the beautiful succulents, cacti, and leaves I encounter when I’m out walking. They often find their way into my work.

What processes do you go through to get to a finished piece? (sketching, computer graphics, stencils, etc)
For this project, I started by gathering lots of reference pictures of each subject online. I then create an amalgamation of different photos in Photoshop (I don’t like to copy just one photo for reference, but rather create a new image). Next I created sketches of each subject, and after that used a mix of hand painting and Procreate on the iPad to take the pieces from sketch to finish, looking closely at the references along the way to make sure I got a likeness.

Who was your favorite character to paint for Genius Movies and why? What was your experience like working on this project?
My favorite subjects would have to be a tie between Ida Lupino and Spike Lee! They both have such fabulous style. I loved looking through all of their outfits and picking a fun combination to draw. It’s always most satisfying to portray people with a lot of character and unique style. This project was challenging for me in that I painted a lot of men, which is not normally my specialty. I really enjoyed the challenge of capturing each person’s likeness and character though. I also learned a ton about movies and directors, and now I have a long list of essential movies I want to catch up on!

You live in LA, what does an average day look like for you?
I start my day with answering emails, then I do some yoga, walk my dog, and cross my backyard to my home studio. From there, every day is different. Sometimes it means working on my iPad for client work, sometimes creating paintings, or packaging up orders from my online shop. I end the day with another walk and then a home cooked dinner.

What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to become an artist or pick it up as a hobby?
I would recommend they experiment with different media to see what works for them. It’s really fun to try out different styles, then see what they gravitate towards.

What book are you currently reading?
I’m in the middle of Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde and Paris France by Gertrude Stein.

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