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Esra Røise

The elegant Norwegian illustrator who's worked with the likes of Vogue, Nike and Levi's presents her jaunty imagery with touching and often playful characters

Esra Røise is a Norwegian freelance illustrator who studied for two years at Einar Granum School of Art, recently finishing a BA in Visual Communication at the Academy of the Arts in Oslo. Some of her latest projects have been in collaboration with Vogue, Milk, Spin, Vice, Nike, and Levi’s Curve ID – a line that will be released sometime this autumn. In addition, Røise’s "Sleepovers" is now being sold by the Popshot Magazine Print Shop, as the magazine decided to take six of its finest illustrations from the past two years and turn them into collectable art prints. Often uneven and jauntily framed, Røise’s illustrations recall spur-of-the-moment photographs. Distinguished by their elegance, playfulness and romanticism, the drawings capture the spirit of what it is like to be young, free and living in the moment.

Dazed Digital: Your work captures moments of passion, spontaneity and imperfections. What fascinates you about these things?
Esra Røise: I don’t know how to answer that properly, but I guess I've always been drawn to the odd and weird, rather than the polished and perfect, just because I think imperfections are so much more interesting than the pristine... I'm also very much fascinated by the concept of time. Time coming and time going, and maybe most of all – all those moments wasted in a split second, captured so well in snapshot photography, which really is a great inspiration for me, even after so many years of being into it. I also find great humour and irony in spending ridiculous amounts of time trying to recreate a moment that is over in a split second.  

DD: How do you make your illustrations? Are they done by hand and then digitally embellished?
Esra Røise: Yeah, pretty much. I'll start off drawing by hand, with pencil and pen, then maybe add some watercolour and/or ink before I scan the drawing and play around with it in photoshop. Recently I have started using digital embellishments in a greater scale than before, but my starting point is almost always analog.

DD: Who and/or what have influenced your illustration work?

Esra Røise: I can find inspiration anywhere, music, movies or literature, the fashion industry with all its wonderful quirks, people around me, nature.. and the internet is obviously also a never-ending source of inspiration.

DD: What was the inspiration behind the image you made for Popshot Magazine?
Esra Røise: The illustration is of a beautiful poem called "Sleepovers" by Bethan Parker-Luscombe, about the joys of childhood slumber parties; a time where sleepovers were sacred and anything was possible, and you'd stay up all night and share your secrets…
I was really anxious about making a really cheesy illustration to go with the sensitive and beautiful poem, so I instead tried to capture the feeling of the aftermath described in the last part of the poem, when the morning has come and the party is over. A kind of awkward grown-up still holding on to the memories of an innocent childhood that is no more. So I guess it is kind of a melancholic interpretation of a rather joyful poem. I'm really terrible at explaining my drawings, but I hope that makes some sense.

DD: What is the last art exhibition you have been to?
Esra Røise: A collection of Antoni Gaudí's works.

DD: What projects do you have lined up for the future?

Esra Røise: I have lots of fun things going on this fall, which I am really excited about. Among other things are starting a new children's book project, and also organizing and illustrating a big fashion editorial.

Text by Darya Antonovna Papko