Nathalia Suellen is an independent fine artist and commercial illustrator based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Entirely self-taught, Suellen's signature style incorporates female in surroundings of a twisted and disturbing world, characterized by the use of dark elements, pop-surrealism, haunting sceneries and otherworldly creatures done through a mixture of photography, 3D and digital painting. Motivated by her love for combining death and dystopia with extremely colorful imaginary worlds, her works constantly portrays the inevitable decay of the world, the well-dressed yet sad beauty, madness and fake happiness as a reminder that death come to us all.
CONCEPTUAL MAGAZINE: Tell us about yourself. How old are you? Where are you from? Where do you live? What do you do exactly?
Nathalia Suellen: Hi Conceptual Magazine! I’m a fine artist based in Brazil, 26 years old with an old soul, completely self-taught, who plays with surrealism with a dark narrative. I work with different mediums, from collage to 3D and besides my personal work I’m also a commercial illustrator.
CM: How did you begin your journey in the fine art world? When did you start illustrating and why? Do you do or use photography as well?
NS: Professionally, I don’t know exactly. I’ve worked digitally for the last 8 years but before that I remember of being a girl who spent lot of time drawing things.
There’s no start or point where we can call someone an “artist”, I’ve always been a creative. I think I’m the same “child-who-draws-well” but we get better over time and consequently, we get recognized for good work. Now, I’m more oriented on digital works: photography, 3d, painting, everything I have full control in. I’m such a perfectionist, digital seems perfect to me right now.
CM: Tell us about your fantasy and dark style in more detail. How did you develop it? How has your style changed? What made it evolve?
NS: I’m a dark artist by nature. Everything I touch tends to go dark. At the beginning, I used to produce more simple works because of lack of skill. For several times I tried to go a bit more wild but the result was horrible. My daily recipe was (model + background).
I could not work with my ideas because I was not prepared. I used to be a slave of graphic resources, they used to tell me what I should do, I had no chance to show myself. That’s the only bad thing of being recognized too early, People think you can’t evolve. Sometimes, it’s really good to be completely unknown so you have time to discover yourself, your style and technique. I always loved surrealism but in digital art it requires technique. Now I know where I’m going. I can work with surrealism and 3d (which gives me much more freedom than photography) and still merge all that with my old dark soul. It’s not a new style, it’s a better me.
CM: Why did you choose to incorporate the twisted and the disturbing in your art?
NS: God knows I’m not a fantasy girl. I’m very influenced by realism, so I think I like to destroy this fantasy a little bit. I think I’m a messenger, my twisted and disturbing is not meaningless. Life is not easy, so when I portray it, it’s like if I could manifest a mutual feeling. Sometimes pain, sadness, or loss.
CM: I noticed you do a lot of commercial work? Can you tell us more about that? How did you get into that? What type of commercial work do you do? What is your clientele like? We want to know everything!
NS: I work mostly to cover projects. My clientele are usually publishers and bands, I barely have time to myself, thanks God. :) Each job starts with a proposal and then, specifications. It’s always a challenge to create someone else’s idea but it’s also a pleasure.
CM: What projects have you done or accomplished that make you feel proud of yourself?
NS: After a 4-year hiatus, I could finally work on a personal project which I’m very proud of. These 4 years were very important to me. I was able to learn, improve, and finally show something that is definitely a reflection of who I am.
CM: Where else have you been published? Have you received any awards? Your work is simply outstanding!
NS: Thank you! But I think I didn’t receive any important awards to tell here. I’m a finalist of most things I participate though. My work was several times published on ImagineFx, AdvancedPhotoshop and also BoingBoing, Folha de Sao Paulo, Dark Beauty Mag, IEVA, Sketchoholic, among others.
CM: Have you ever exhibited your work somewhere?
NS: Not yet. Actually, I’ve had some incredible invitations but I still couldn’t accept because I don’t find time to approve and finish my ltd. prints. This is a brand new world to me, find the right paper, produce certificates, color profiles…but it’s almost there.
CM: Are you working on any special projects at the moment?
NS: Yes, I’m working hard on the next step of my new project called Morbid Dream, I’m producing new works for 2016.
CM: What is your workflow like? Tell us about your process when it comes to coming up with an idea and then putting it all together.
NS: I’m used to working intuitively; I like to surprise myself. Sometimes, there’s an idea in mind but I’m not a slave of it. As a surrealist, it’s important to let my subconscious create. I simply let my feelings materialize to the real world, they can become whatever they want. It’s like playing with dolls, they control me though.
CM: What other types of art have you experimented with?
NS: I work with oil painting and traditional drawing.
CM: Is your work influenced by other artists? If so, which?
NS: When I need an inspiration boost, I go through Edward Hopper works, Salvador Dali, George Tooker, Sally Storch, Tim Walker, Michael Sowa and some contemporary too, like Mark Ryden.
CM: Any other artists that you love but are not influenced by?
NS: I don’t think so, I think love and influence are brothers.
CM: What has your work brought to your life that you would have never experienced if it wasn’t for it?
NS: First of all, without the art, I would never care for my feelings; I would be a locked box full of problems, fears and indecisions. There are creatures, monsters inside us, places never visited. It’s your decision to kill or make them live. We artists, transport these feelings to the material world. When I create my art, I let you fall into my world, it’s like a shared dream, we feel the same, we know the same.
Art is not only to decorate walls but a place for escapists.
Without art, Nathalia would be a simple human, paying her bills, working hard, and waiting for the weekend.
CM: Is illustration your business or do you have another type of day job?
NS: My business and life.
CM: What are your plans for the future? Are you where you want to be yet?
NS: It doesn’t matter who we are, it’s never enough. I think it’s wise to keep dreaming with the impossible. We are in constant improvisation, there’s no top or limit. However, God taught me that the place where I want to be is wherever I’m happy and doing what I love. We don’t need approval, awards, critiques, features, if we love what we do. Seeing our work recognized is amazing but the true artist creates because it’s a NEED; it’s screams for being created. I will never ever stop doing my duty as an artist. If the public is looking for something done with love, I think my work is the answer.
CM: Anything else you would like to talk about or tell us?
NS: All I want is to thank you for supporting my work.
CM: You are welcome!!! It was an absolute pleasure interviewing you and getting to know more about your world! Thank you for sitting down with us and giving us some of your time!