I Love Ugly began as an art project, so when we came across the idea to launch womenswear with an artist collaboration, it felt like the perfect final touch to work with a talented female artist from New Zealand.

We wanted a graphic element in the collection, but something special. After input from the entire team, we landed on Kayra’s work. The element of awe and intrigue created by her large-scale hyperrealism paintings is very impressive, and Kayra is inspirational as a young artist with a unique story behind each of her works.

We were thrilled that she wanted to work with us, especially for this first collection (and first collaboration we’ve done in a while), so we sat down with her for a brief Q&A on her background, her inspiration, and her challenges along the way. There is a ton of value packed in this interview, especially in terms of wise advice for aspiring artists.

Enjoy the interview, and thank you for your continued support of I Love Ugly.

 

ILU: Tell us a bit about yourself — what inspired you to start painting?

K: My name is Kayra, and I like to make art. For as long as I can remember I’ve been making art. There wasn’t really a turning point in my life when I realised I wanted to paint, it has always been a reliable outlet for me that I knew I could trust and go back to if I needed to let out an emotion or feeling. I think that is why I tend to try to paint pretty fast for feelings that are fleeting, or sometimes go back to ideas years later if they are persistent.

ILU: The attention to detail and realism in your artwork is what makes it so impressive — tell us how you learned this skill?

K: I’m a self taught artist so I never had any formal education on the kind of paintings I create. I have always been super detail-oriented and I have noticed the more I paint, the more details I unlock in real life. There are so many peculiarities and obscurities in everyday objects that you sort of forget or blur out, but when you take the time to look at things up close you learn a lot about the details that make up the world. I look at my own hands or skin a lot when I am painting to understand the patterns - I’ve found that it can become somewhat mathematical in the repetitiveness. Sometimes when you slow down the videos I film of my paintings you can see me holding up my hands to look at the small details and grooves of my skin, or how they react in the light. It’s super strange how the face of your hand can become like craters; patterns within patterns.

ILU: We noticed you tend to produce large scale artworks; is there a reason you were drawn to creating such massive pieces of art?

K: Larger canvases never intimidated me, I always thought of it as more space to express my ideas and get creative with. I find that working with acrylic paints is pretty forgiving, and even though everyone rolls their eyes when an art teacher says “there is no such thing as mistakes in art” as I have continued creating art, I have realised more and more how true this really is. I feel like each time I start a new painting now they just get bigger, it's a bit of an addiction - I can barely fit them through my studio doors anymore.

ILU: What are some of the biggest challenges you have faced in your creative journey so far?

K: It took a while to confront the fact that all paintings are essentially a self-portrait, regardless of whether they are of a face or object or place etc. Having a platform, like painting, to portray your reality and thoughts is liberating but it can also be really uncomfortable. To come to terms with the reality that your art can be perceived by the public eye is super strange: the painting doesn’t lie.

 

ILU: What’s your favourite piece from the ILU x Kayra Yildiz capsule-collection?

K: The black boxy tee with my painting “Attention Seeker” printed in black and white!

 

ILU: What advice would you give to any aspiring artists that are afraid of taking the leap of pursuing their craft?

K: Learn to persist in the face of criticism. The ability to motivate yourself depends on you having thick skin, and putting your art out into the world can be very confronting in this way. One thing I noticed as I began to show my art publicly is peoples eagerness to interpret and critique, it is one of the most rewarding parts of being an artist to know that your work can evoke emotion but in this you have to accept the fact that other people’s understandings of your work will not always align with your intentions painting it. I think that sometimes when people look at art, they forget that their own interpretations are very self-revealing. Even though each artwork is a self-portrait of the artist, the meaning to the viewer is also a self-portrait of them, in this way, I’ve always thought of my paintings as a two-way mirror.

Let go of creating art for the purpose of the observer: I heard a quote once that I really liked, that is: “I am here to convey not convince” which I tend to apply to my perspective on creating art.

Let go of the fact that things might not turn out exactly as you want on the first go. Or second, or third, or fourth.