Mila Gislon on Not Leaving the Childhood Dreams Behind 

Fashion Illustration by Mila Gislon

Born and raised in one of the world’s fashion capitals, Milan, Italian fashion illustrator Mila Gislon welcomes us to her naive and promising imaginative world. Her work is mainly characterized by its bold sense of color and use of florals, and she enjoys recreating various traditional techniques. Inspired by fashion weeks while growing up in Milan, experimentation is an integral part of her working process. Surprisingly, besides her illustrator identity, she is a medical student at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Germany, indeed.

We chatted with young and talented Mila, who keeps her passion for creativity, drawing, and fashion always alive, to hear more about her influences, struggles, and the importance of making art on her career route.

NYL: Dear Mila, tell us about your journey – did you always want to be an illustrator?

Mila: Illustration has always been a part of my life; I can’t imagine a day without drawing. An essential step for me was in High School when Procreate, the digital drawing app, featured my work across their social media. I was touched by the incredibly positive response to my art – it encouraged me to take my passion seriously.

NYL: And what about your creative journey. What stepping stones led you to where you are now? Why fashion?

Mila: Instagram has been a big stepping stone. It’s allowed me to present my work to the public and, at the same time, connect with and draw inspiration from other creatives.

Fashion is an endless source of joy and inspiration to me. I was born and grew up in Milan – a true capital of style -. Where else does the local market have at least four stands selling designer shoes? Personally, I always love putting together a look – and often favor the same bright colors I use in my illustrations.

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NYL: What do you love most about what you do?

Mila: When I draw a look from the runway, I am constantly reinterpreting and reworking it. Fashion illustration is a dialogue between two art forms – that is what makes it so much fun. And Escapism, I must say! I love being able to escape to a more exciting and theatrical world. My favorite artists like George Barbier or Christian Lacroix are all about drama.

NYL: You use traditional techniques such as watercolor or digital collages in your illustrations. How did your art and technique evolve?

Mila: I am entirely self–taught. I started with patterned paper, scissors, and co. I now work almost exclusively digitally using the digital illustration app, Procreate. When I first started drawing digitally, I spent a lot of time on detailed realistic portraits, which helped train my eye and improve my technique – a bit like old–school drawing from life. The skills I gained were a necessary basis on which to develop a freer and more spontaneous style. The gesinski ink brush, the gouache brush, and the calligraphy brushes in Procreate are my favorites. At the moment, I’m increasingly incorporating a wider range of traditional techniques like woodcuts – digital art allows you endless options.

NYL: What and who is your source of inspiration?

Mila: Matisse for color and pattern, Mats Gustafson for his beautiful simplicity, and Paolo Roversi for sheer poetry. And exhibitions – I’ve visited Paris regularly since childhood. I’ve had the opportunity to draw inspiration from so many beautiful museums and exhibitions like the Musée Yves Saint Laurent and the Dior exhibition at the Musée des Arts décoratifs. Books – I recently read From A to BibaThe Autobiography of Barbara Hulanicki, flowers, and of course, street style – Milanesi aren’t afraid to dress up!

NYL: You are a medical student. This is definitely a “thing” – hard and quite respectful. Did you have any difficulties, or did you ever suspect your parents wanted you to continue your profession? What was the people’s reaction around you to such a plot twist?

Mila: Medical school can make it difficult to carve out time for anything else, but one can do wonders with a bit of organization and a lot of caffeine. I believe pursuing both dreams will be very rewarding in the long term, so I put in the extra effort daily to balance my two interests. Luckily I have always been supported by my family, and of course, having their support is essential and priceless.

NYL: What do you find the most challenging about freelancing? How do you tackle it?

Mila: You have to be a jack of all trades: artist, PR manager, and personal assistant. I try to keep my eyes open for opportunities to forge contacts and always be positive and proactive. I also think it’s increasingly important to put oneself out there on a personal level – a skill I’m working on.

NYL: This year’s Met Gala theme is “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” The dress code is Gilded Glamour. Considering the concept, if you could dress a celebrity at the Met Gala, who would it be, and how would you design the costume in your own style? Why?

Mila: An actress I’d kill to dress is Gemma Chan. I loved her homage to Anna May Wong for the 2021 Met Gala. However, she is a red carpet veteran and never misses a beat – so I’d probably end up leaving all the critical decisions to her!

Furthermore, I love literature – so I would turn to novels like those by Henry James from the Gilded Age to inspire me. I’m thinking Dior by John Galliano – style big sleeves and even bigger hair!

NYL: And finally, what’s next for you?

Mila: Hopefully, a lot of experimentation and new experiences! I’d love to do more commercial work. One thing is for sure – I’m excited for the road ahead!

Fashion Illustration by Mila Gislon
fashion illustration by Mila gislon

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Deniz Ercelebi On Being a Fearless Dream Chaser

Deniz Ercelebi is a Turkish industrial designer and fashion illustrator based in Richmond, Virginia. Having worked as a designer in the technology industry for over 20 years, she has decided not to postpone her dreams any longer. We caught up with Deniz to find out more about her journey and FIDA (Fashion Illustration Awards) success, how things are going since her career -accordingly- her life changed, and hear more about the fashion illustration field.

NYL: Dear Deniz, you have an inspiring story. Can you talk us through your career journey to date?

Deniz: I studied Industrial Design at Middle East Technical University. After my internship, I started working part-time as a graphic and web designer at a design agency, which turned into a full-time job after graduation. I moved to New York in 2004. I am a problem solver and a lifelong learner. After doing graphic and web design for a while, I leveraged my industrial design knowledge and web design experience to start designing digital products. My most recent experience has been in the tech start-up world as a product designer. I love User Experience Design as it provides me with ongoing problem-solving opportunities and allows me to exercise my creativity.

NYL: When did you realize you wanted to become an illustrator?

Deniz: I’ve always loved drawing. My mother tells me how I started drawing fashion figures as early as I could hold a pencil. However, I come from a family of engineers. After high school, I ended up studying Geological Engineering. Yet, I realized it wasn’t for me at the end of my first year. I transferred to the Industrial Design Department as it was a more creative field but still technical for me to feel comfortable. I did not feel brave enough to jump straight into art and illustration at the time. Then life got busy and drawing just stayed on the side as a neglected hobby for me.

I’ve always felt that art and illustration were what I wanted to do. I also struggled with a significant artist’s block all my life. I knew I wanted to do art and illustration, but I didn’t know where to start. After I had my second baby at age 44, a switch was turned on for me recently. I decided; this is it. Life is passing. If I want to do something, there is no better time than today. So I decided to get over my art block systematically. My husband gifted me a craft table that he built. I created a small studio space in our basement and started drawing. I decided to draw a little every day. It doesn’t really matter what it is or how it turns out. The point was to do it and dust off my skills.

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Abstract Visions & Vibrant Colors: Paintings by Ilayda Tulum

Aiming to catch and reflect feelings spontaneously using abstract shapes flooded with vibrant and mostly blueish pigments, contemporary artist Ilayda Tulum creates abstract paintings comprised of consecutive and irregular lines. As the feeling demands, she smears kindly or wildly, pours lots of water, squeegees the paint, and builds textures on layers using acrylics, charcoals, ink, and pastels.

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Ghazal Bagheri’s Silent and Vulnerable Faces

Ghazal Bagheri is an Istanbul-based Iranian figurative painter with a background in sociology, and a first time contributor to The New Yorker Life. Ghazal thinks her paintings reflect on stories, even wounds of the people she encounters. Enjoy a selection of her beautiful work in this blog and follow Ghazal on Instagram to witness her journey in painting.

NYL: Ghazal, please introduce yourself a little.

Ghazal: I was born in 1993 in the city of Qaemshahr in northern Iran. After getting a degree in Persian literature and graphic design, I immigrated to Istanbul with my family when I was 18. I studied sociology at Istanbul University. I had my first work experience in the textile industry. In addition to working in various jobs, I worked as an actor and puppeteer at the Çizgi Puppet Theater for six years. In the meanwhile, I continued painting. I realized that people’s stories, perhaps their wounds, influenced my paintings. That’s why I decided to study in the department of sociology, which focuses on people and human life.

NYL: How has your technique evolved? Do you mainly use watercolors?

Ghazal: Before I emigrated, I practiced pencil drawing and charcoal technique with the dream of becoming a realist painter, but when I came to Istanbul, my paintings changed and grew as I did. I got acquainted with the world of watercolor, and gradually fish entered my life. In recent years, besides watercolor, I have also applied acrylic, oil pastel, and colored pencil techniques to express myself and my feelings.

NYL: Can you talk about the symbolism in your paintings? What do the fish and other symbols you draw represent?

Ghazal: I never talk about paintings; I don’t even name them because I don’t want them to affect viewers. Paintings are actually mirrors, and the viewer sees their reflection in them. Fish and other symbols are not really a thing or a path of your choosing, like the technique you use. They are just there, as I felt. I use fish, flowers, and crows often, but this can change over time or not, I don’t know.

I don’t know why fish either. My psychologist friend says that fish symbolizes trust. I may have chosen this because I have problems with trust in my life, too. Again, I always leave the interpretation to the other viewer. Because the picture I draw when I am unhappy can give another person a sense of joy.

NYL: It sounds like painting is an essential part of your life.

Ghazal: Painting is not only a profession for me; it is my identity, even my whole life. It is why I make almost all of my choices, from university education to people I connect with. I paint as if I keep a diary. In recent years, I incorporated digital drawing on a tablet, which is faster and easier to carry around with me. Painting has become a necessity for me, like eating.

It may seem appealing and perhaps easy to live as a painter, but a very, very difficult life will be waiting for you. You can only ignore all the difficulties of painting if you truly love it. It’s like therapy where you constantly face yourself and your emotions and fight your ego. On the other hand, you can’t make real money, and people don’t take you seriously. Despite all this, painting helped me experience the excitement of discovering myself and the world.

NYL: Are the faces in your paintings real people? Do you draw with someone in mind?

Ghazal: I don’t draw someone directly in front of me in portraits. I would say that the portraits represent an emotion or a person’s story. Stories and feelings become my paintings.

NYL: How does having a multidisciplinary background affect your paintings?

Ghazal: As a child, I wanted to be a writer. As I grew up, I wanted to be a photographer. But in Iran, it was necessary to draw to pass the fine arts exam for the university. So I went to a drawing course and things have entirely changed there. Painting is like crying or eating. It relaxes me; it’s the only place I know and feel safe and confident. That’s why I can’t imagine my life without painting. Painting is like telling a secret to your best friend for me, or a diary.

I did photography to make money. I am currently interested in analog photography as a hobby; photography has become a field that fully supports my painting.

NYL: Can you name a few of your favorite artists?

Ghazal: I like Egon Schiele a lot. Apart from that, Séraphine Louis, Van gogh, Jenny Saville, Henri Matisse, Francisco Goya are names that I love.

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The New Yorker Life Shop is Coming Soon

The New Yorker Life is launching its online shop with exclusive art pieces created by top artists.

We are thrilled to announce that our tiny little community of 300.000 people will soon be able to buy what they love in prints, textiles, ceramics, and other forms. Soon, we are launching The New Yorker Life Shop.

To make things more exciting, we will collaborate with world-class illustrators/graphic designers on monthly limited edition prints. These will be exclusive to The New Yorker Life, limited to 50 copies in A3 size and printed in museum quality on fine art paper. The prints will only be available in the NYL Shop and never elsewhere – guaranteed. And once the 50 copies are gone, they’re gone forever.

Over the years, we hope to have an incredible collection of artwork representing each month of NYL as an online publication, starting on May 1st, 2022. Artists will keep a considerable part of the income from these prints as part of our goal to support the artists and the art community. So exciting!

We’re collaborating with Ayse Deniz Sahin, a renowned illustrator from Istanbul, Turkey, to kick things off. She is incredibly talented, and her work represents what we all need at the moment: peace, love, silliness, warm and leisurely summer days… In short, the nice things in life we all miss and deserve. She is hard at work, and we cannot wait!

If you are an artist or know someone you think would be great for this project, please send us an email, and we’ll discuss the details: hey@newyorkerlife.com. Please keep in mind this is a once-a-month gig, and we’ll be extremely picky with our choices. It is essential to deliver great work that represents The New Yorker Life and its values.

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Favorite Coffee Table Books Of New Yorkers in 2021

Favorite Coffee Table Books Of New Yorkers in 2021

Coffee table books have been a big hit in 2021 on our 165K strong Facebook page. New Yorkers love buying and gifting coffee table books, and we are no different at NYL. We shared what we purchased and loved, and our followers valued our suggestions which led to many book sales. The interest encouraged us to focus on more book recommendations in 2022, both on our social media and The New Yorker Life.

Suggesting a product to a vast group of people is no easy task, though! We are responsible people, and we do not wish to contribute to climate change and pollution by marketing products of commercial greed. We also want you to feel that if NYL suggests it, it’s good! Discovering great items, making sure they are worth buying is our top priority. And in this post, you’ll find a recap of what our followers loved the most in 2021. If you’d like to be in the loop, please subscribe to our newsletter to receive occasional updates from us and follow our social media.

Best Coffee Table Books to Buy & Gift This Year

Barbershops of America by Rob Hammer

Barbershops of America is a photo book by Rob Hammer, a Los Angeles, California-based photographer and a contributor to The New Yorker Life. In his book, Hammer offers a unique look into the world of traditional barbershops throughout all 50 states of America, and he does it masterfully.


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New York City Street Photography by Ernst Haas

New York City Street Photography by Ernst Haas

Edit: Our readers loved Ernst Haas: New York in Color. This post has been incredibly popular with over 65k visits in a month. Thanks!


Ernst Haas was an Austrian-American photojournalist who invested in color photography at a time it was considered inferior to B&W and left incredible photographs behind, documenting The New Yorker Life.

During his 40-year career, Haas closed the gap between photojournalism and photography as a creative medium. His innovative use of shutter speed added a blurred effect to his images, producing a unique sense of movement. He was the ultimate “Instagrammer” 50 years before Instagram came to life.

This post’s incredible selection of photos is from Ernst Haas: New York in Color, 1952-1962, a book published in 2020 by Prestel Publishing. The book includes his classic and newly discovered New York City color photographs of the 1950s and 60s.

At the peak of his creation, Ernst Haas presented us with these beautiful images demonstrating his remarkable mastery of Kodachrome film and color printing. The depth and richness of color in these photographs are unmatched and they brim with lyricism and theatrical apprehension.

You can order Ernst Haas: New York in Color, 1952-1962 on Amazon, and visit ernst-haas.com to find out more about the artist.

2021 edition is out: Favorite Coffee Table Books Of New Yorkers in 2021

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Deep Park by Bruce Polin

Deep Park by Bruce Polin

Deep Park is an ongoing series of chance portraits by Bruce Polin, a native of Brooklyn, New York. Bruce meets and photographs people in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, which he calls his outdoor studio, with his large-format 8×10 film camera. The results are pure, honest, and timeless portraits of a diverse group of New Yorkers who are the protagonists in what we call The New Yorker Life.

Photography is perfectly suited to depict, and enable, the transformative nature of people.

While, on the surface, the work may not appear all that political, this series of portraits — of random and seemingly disparate people — has been a very organic and physical reaction to the polarization that has enveloped this country since before the presidential election. It’s no coincidence that my need to leave the insularity of my studio and go out to connect with “strangers” began in earnest during the campaign that let up to November 2016.

Prospect Park is the optimal microcosm of New York’s profound diversity. My use of its natural assets as the backdrop somehow imparts additional political resonance, given that our public lands and environmental protections seem to be eroding by the minute, and climate change denial is now, incredibly, a governing principle. The park, designed in 1867 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert B. Vaux, is a vast organism, fertile, with secret winding paths and infinite textures and sounds. There are many unique ‘neighborhoods’ within it. The park has become my studio in a way — one in which I don’t have much control, an aspect that can be frustrating but often liberating.

My use of these large outdated cameras for this project is very intentional. I wouldn’t be able to achieve the same thing with a small modern camera. With these big cameras, a lot of patience is required on both myself and the sitter. At some point, though, my subject becomes invested in the process, and it becomes more of a collaboration. They see that I’m building something, and I need their help. The process can effectively isolate us as if an invisible room takes form. And it all happens in a public space. I’m fascinated by how we construct very private spaces within public spaces. I look for people who might already be in that space, so I approach with care, trying hard not to break what they built.
I try to be aware of the transition.

Photography is perfectly suited to depict, and enable, the transformative nature of people. –Bruce Polin on “Deep Park”

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Figurative Paintings of Andela Tucakovic

Figurative Paintings of Andela Tucakovic

Anđela Tucaković is a contemporary figurative artist based in Croatia and she is a first-time contributor to The New Yorker Life. Even though she is new on the international art scene, her work has taken place in various solo and group exhibitions in London, Madrid, Milan, Genova, and Athens. 

She primarily paints with acrylics. In her opus, one can find many motifs, from portraits to everyday objects poetically set in symbolic compositions. She uses introspective, intertextual, and intermedial methods, supplied with mementos from her own life and wild dreams, but this does not make the evaluation of her paintings obscure. On the contrary, the intimate diary-like character of her art draws attention and results in a level of universal understanding.

I have been interested in creating for as long as I can remember. I always sketched, made collages, and wrote stories throughout my childhood. I guess I set my mind on visual arts when I was thirteen. I was particularly fascinated by hyperrealism, so I took some pencils and paper and gave it a try. Very soon, it became almost an obsession. If I weren’t at school, I would draw portraits in my room. Around two years later, when I was a high school junior, I had the honor of opening my first solo exhibition in Šibenik, Croatia. After graduating from high school, the logical move was to continue my artistic development, so I enrolled at the art academy and got my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 2020.

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Papier Atelier: Istanbul Duo Turning Paper into Art

Mia & Vincent dance scene - Pulp Fiction
Mia & Vincent dance scene – Pulp Fiction

Papier Atelier is an Istanbul, Turkey-based paper art studio founded by artist duo Türker & Deniz Yılmaz Akman. Handcrafting and slow living being their motto, they create sculptures, installations, prop designs, and animations utilizing the most delicate material; paper. Their craft aims to express organic forms, feelings, and circumstances in simple geometries.

At first, we started making collages, watercolors, and small paper sculptures. We were creating just for ourselves, family, and friends. Deniz had a blog, and she made a post about our paper sculptures, which created quite a buzz amongst her followers. People loved them more than expected, and we suddenly started taking custom orders. We started an Instagram account and a website to promote our paper art.

After a while, we gained popularity in Turkey following TV and magazine interviews, which motivated us to start our own company in 2015. Since then, we’ve been working as a full-time paper artist duo.

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