When I first met Denise Elnajjar, she had just quit her full time job. The 27-year-old Middle Eastern fashion illustrator decided to expand her passion for art, and she did this by registering her work now more than ever onto her daily life.
We first met at a lovely cafe by Chambers street, and even though the light was very dim and I could hardly read her facial expressions and notice her wide whitened smile, I did apprehended her interest in this particular subject and realized her bolder than 'print media' technique.
A combination of fashion and travel is what made the illustrator develop her own style. Architecture and a embellished garments drove Elnajjar convey all these emotions and moods. A genuine message that life should be a celebration of different cultures and traditions.
Coming from a family that was originally artistic, having a father as a pattern maker and artist, it was easy for Elnajjar's technique to become a very organic one.
"I wanted to go to art school, but then I said, Im just gonna try this on my own," she continued, "then I tried other things, and I'm glad I did them, but I came back to my art."
It just goes to show that no matter what path you might take, if something is truly yours, it will eventually catch up on you. But its all about acting on it, and about mending ourselves to cope up with what we were meant to do in life, just as Elnajjar realized in her own case.
"I don't really say something until I start doing it. I believe in action over everything else," she said, and as she said it, she reaffirmed herself about it. "Go after what you want in life. If there's something you want to do, drop everything and do it."
I couldn't agree more. Its motivating to talk to her, its a contagious sense of drive towards what you really want to get out of life. And that yes, despite the fears and hardships in order to get to that 'magical place', its truly all about taking our daily battles as lessons. For that matter, Denise agrees by saying that, "in the past few years I've just come to realize that if you don't go after what you want, everything else is pointless."
She pauses and realizes it has been a roller coaster as she adds that, "there are other things that you learn on your own that you wish someone could have told you ahead of time in terms of logistics in freelance."
"A few years ago I started reading up about how to be a self starter. But, there are things you only learn through trial and error. You make so many mistakes, and its frustrating because at the end you have no one to guide you. But its OK, because at the end of the day you just learn."
She learns and sinks in inspiration wherever she goes as she is mostly enamored by Japanese art, Toulouse Lautrec, La Belle Epoque, and Belgian tapestries.
"There's a ton of fine art that has shaped my mentality," she says.
But its not just regarding these pieces that keeps her creativity moving forward, but also, her family and her own culture. She's come to realize that her father originally taught her the beauty in the Degas' complex techniques, or the amount of mixed emotions you can get out of Picasso's cubism.
Over the years, her drawings have ended up to be a collection of art, fashion, travel, and also - food. As much as she is crazy about illustrating a world, she is also about tasting it.
"Its very much like art," she says. And after having had shared her whole list of different type of international dishes she enjoys cooking, she said she can't compare anything to her experience on tasting the tapas from Spain.
But what really keeps her going? "My own culture. My own roots." This is what makes her not just any illustrator, but a diverse character full of positivity, full of passion to live and love.
She's a risk-taker heading overseas both through her own imagination and literally, just to share her vision. And as she does so, we're predicting big things.