How fashion illustrator Talia Zoref broke through the NFT hype
Fast forward to a history lesson: fashion illustration is the lifeblood of the media and retail segments of the industry as we know it. The first commercially released fashion images captured the looks of the Palace of Versailles during the reign of Marie Antoinette, setting court trends across Europe. When the world’s leading fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar was founded in 1867, it was based on drawing, because photography was still an experimental discipline. From Salvador Dali to Karl Lagerfeld, throughout the 20th century, many iconic designers expressed divergent visions through fashion illustration.
When Instagram made fashion imagery accessible to the public, innovative artists like Sara Shakeel and Helen Downie transformed the genre by embracing the immense sharing potential of social media. Both were among the first to bridge fashion and technology trends. Prolific fashion arts entrepreneur Talia Zoref is bringing back the “back to the future” medium now with her first-of-its-kind NFT drop featuring 8888 unique pieces. One based in Israel Forbes A 30 under 30 winner, she has collaborated with MAC, Chanel, Condé Nast and other influential actors portraying contemporary style icons like Beyoncé, Lady Gaga and Billie Eilish. His last fashion eyes collection secures the legacy of luxury tailoring in the Metaverse. I reached out to Zoref to discuss his early career and the future of fashion media.
How do you see the role of a fashion illustrator in the age of social media?
Social media has completely changed the industry. An illustrator does not capture runway looks in exact form because the photos are available everywhere immediately. My job is to create an interpretation, a portrait of a look as I see it and to give it an atmosphere. Now, fashion illustrators are creative leaders who deliver campaigns that stop scrolling audiences in their tracks. A work of art can bring something totally new to the table with unexpected color schemes or lines representing and causing different emotions. It all depends on how you want the viewer to feel. Fashion illustrations are also used as prints on clothing and other products, for packaging design, or as treasured keepsakes for a brand’s customers. It’s always a fresh and interesting approach.
What inspired such a massive creative effort (8888 pieces)?
Once I learned about the possibilities of partnering with a developer, I saw the sky was the limit in the NFT world. It helped me expand my hand drawn art into this amazing work that I am proud of. I never thought I could create so much art in such a short time and have every piece so beautiful and articulated. What I love most about it is that we are now able to do so much good and support causes we believe in. Our mission focuses on three key areas: fashion, art and empowering women through education. It’s still a dream for me!
With the market embracing NFTs and digitalization, is the future of fashion virtual?
There is so much work to do and this is just the beginning! People are starting to build their fashion reputation virtually with NFTs. We see this happening with big brands such as Gucci and Balmain as well as with individual consumers and style connoisseurs. With the trend towards remote working, there will be more opportunities for people to socialize in the digital space. In the near future, you will be able to walk into any fashion store and purchase a physical bag to wear as well as receive an exclusive virtual version as a bundle. I believe the future of fashion will continue to have its place in the physical world, but will also expand into the virtual realm.
The NFT drop sold out in two minutes! Congratulations, and what’s next for the project?
Thanks very much. We are working hard to make it known in the fashion world. We plan to hold events “in real life” and in the metaverse to spend time together as a community. There will also be collaborations with different brands and artists as well as workshops educating women about NFTs and technology in support of women’s rights and women-led opportunities.
As virtual learning continues to disrupt the education industry, what has been the most valuable lesson from your time in the fashion world?
I attended George Brown University in Toronto and Shenkar College of Design in Tel Aviv. I didn’t know fashion illustration existed as a profession before I studied design. People can learn anything online today and it’s absolutely amazing because it brings more opportunities to more people around the world. I’m glad the Metaverse is making fashion studies even more accessible with the capabilities of the 3D virtual world. However, it would be best to mix distance learning with in-person study. One of the best things about going to fashion school is the chance to meet people and create together in a hands-on way.
What is the relationship between technical know-how, business acumen and the chance to succeed in fashion?
I think you have to be strategic. Being a freelance artist requires an entrepreneurial mindset unless you work with a manager. Learn some design programs to digitize your artwork to the next level Where delegate it to someone who can. You need to be proactive on social media and you have to go to events to meet people in person. I believe luck happens when opportunity meets preparation. Even though an opportunity comes from luck, that alone does not guarantee success. Success comes from consistency and determination. Personally, I started with no connections, so it took a while to get my first commission paid. I worked three years for free to get to where I could make the right connections. I reached out my hand to so much people until things start happening. Now I have been in the business for ten years. I don’t know if I would call it “luck”. I believe it’s about believing in your goals and taking action to “achieve them”.
What has been the most surprising result of your success as a fashion illustrator?
When I started, I never imagined meeting icons like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion to offer them my art! However, the most surprising result actually happened most recently. Since joining the NFT space, I have had the most amazing encounters with so many talented developers and entrepreneurs from the tech industries. It’s such a joy for me to see the worlds of technology, finance and art merge to create such a creative space. That’s why this NFT project has such a strong community component to support my mission to do good, bring joy, and inspire. We are all in the same boat on planet Earth.
How would you describe your own style of dress?
My own style is very practical. I love chunky trench coats like my Burberry denim and iconic bags like a McQueen which I adore. I like to wear a lot of strong colors like green, red, blue and pink. I love wearing dresses with a pair of sneakers. Some of my favorite designers are leading classic brands into the future: Giambattista Valli, Virginie Viard, Pierpaolo Piccioli, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Kim Jones and the late Virgil Abloh. When it comes to the Israeli fashion scene, I love Yanky & Nataf, Maya Reik, Eti Kobo, Keren Wolf, Shahar Avnet, Dylan Parienty and Yaniv Persy.
What is the most pressing question on your mind right now?
Remote work and learning and the metaverse are slowly but surely taking a bigger place in our lives. It looks a bit like the beginning of the internet with all the untold potential. In the long term, I keep wondering how to promote more empowerment, inclusivity and sustainability within the fashion industry through projects like fashion eyes. I am excited about the many positive changes to come.