It was during one of my aimless browsing sessions on Instagram, jumping from one account to another, letting my thumb guide me to what my eye likes, that I stumbled upon a post that instantly grabbed my attention.
An illustration so lightweight and accentuated yet abstract, that I wanted to see more, so I dug into the account called @allthenudes_, liking image after image, letting my thumb tap freely. I reached out to Sydney, the artist behind the account to learn more about her illustrations and she agreed to tell her story and talk about her inspiration in an interview.
Sydney is located in New York where she worked in the fashion industry before emerging herself fully into art. Her work began with line art illustration but expands into embroidery and acrylic paintings.
The Lingerist: You started your Instagram account around three years ago. Which developments influenced your work since then?
Sydney Halela: I started my art Instagram @allthenudes_ on a whim just to have a centralized place where I could keep track of my art and see it in one place. Since starting the account, I can now look back and see a definitive progression in my work, which has been pretty cool. It’s been a very steady, natural evolution overtime for me.
If anything, I’d say what’s influenced the most change in my work has been my decision to leave my corporate job to work freelance and consciously focus on dedicating my time towards what I truly love doing; creating.
What role does drawing play in your life?
My art is a constant in my life. It’s a through-line that carries me from one year to the next. My innate need to create is one of the cornerstones of who I am and how I identify myself. Every time I sit down to draw I’m reminded of that.
Do you start with a body or do you start with an idea?
I start with the body, and the ideas form from there. The body has so many intricacies that if I drew the same body in the same position 100 times, I’d end up with 100 different expressions. I focus on whatever strikes me in the moment and go from there. There’s something really freeing about not having a plan. There’s no pressure to achieve something I’ve already constructed in my mind. I just follow my eye and whatever happens... happens!
You worked in fashion but you draw nudes. Are bodies more beautiful with or without clothes?
I think bodies are equally beautiful with and without clothing. I’ve spent most of my adult life in the business of dressing people either as a designer or a buyer. The luxury of clothing is that it’s a vehicle to express yourself and how you want to be perceived. It allows you the power to control your own message in a way, and that transformative nature of clothing is extremely powerful.
Without clothing, what you’re left with is who you really are in spite of however you’d like people to see you. It’s raw, unfiltered truth. There’s nothing left to hide behind, and that kind of revealing vulnerability is something I find truly beautiful.
What’s your favorite aspect of line art?
I love the evocative quality of a simple line drawing. Through the fluidity of my line, I’m essentially having a conversation with myself, and others, in a language that anyone can understand. I’m building up my visual vocabulary through lines.
Your work is abstract, yet very explicit. Is this the secret to making our imperfect bodies look aesthetic and intriguing at the same time?
It’s hard for me to say because I find imperfections to be maybe the most intriguing aspects about people I draw. However, I do believe that the looser the line, the more abstract it is, the more open the conversation is between the artist and the audience. And that’s often what intrigues me personally.
What does femininity mean to you?
To me, it’s a softness.
What does sensuality mean to you?
Sensuality is deeply understanding oneself and not holding back in pursuing your bodily appetites.
Who are other artists that inspired and shaped you along your journey?
There are countless artists that have inspired me over the years, but I think the one that has been the most impactful and has penetrated my mind in terms of the way I see bodies is Egon Schiele. The man is brilliant.
Do you aim to express emotion while you are drawing your models?
Most of the time I’m drawing without an end goal. I usually start out just trying to portray the physicality of the form in front of me, and when I’m finished, what I end up with is something that I hope will elicit an emotive response. Whether that’s strength, sadness, empowerment, joy… I don’t know, so long as you’ve felt something.