Intimate, soulful and elegant—Leigh Viner gracefully blends watercolours, inks, acrylics and charcoal with great finesse to create portraits and illustrations that emanate femininity. Through her female protagonists, she not only expresses her artistic creativity, but also her own identity as a woman. We sat down with her over a large glass of wine to find out more.
What’s your favourite drink at Happy Hour?
I do love my wine.
If you weren’t an artist what would you be?
I’ve always wanted to be a fashion designer, a children's author and—considering my love for travelling—a travel writer.
Your work is strongly influenced by fashion and fashion illustration. Who is your favourite fashion designer?
I love so many, but for the past few years I have been buying more Alexander Wang pieces than not, and my love for Balenciaga is also endless.
If you had to choose one Fashion Week to go to, which would it be?
Being that I am so inspired by Paris when I visit, I would without a doubt choose Paris Fashion Week. I love the energy of New York, but Paris just has a stronger pull for me, along with so many of the designers that have inspired my art over the years. Also because of my love for Europe and my hope someday to be able to invest in a property for long-term stays in the summer.
You seem drawn to female subjects. Where do you find the people you depict in your designs?
Having been a former makeup artist and also always interested in fashion editorials, I sometimes use real-life models along with inspiration from magazines. Using the female subject for my art is also a great way to express my own femininity—I can connect to expressions that stimulate my creativity.
From Lady Gaga to UNICEF, you have quite the portfolio of collaborations. Who have you most enjoyed working with?
With client commissions and collaborations, the style can definitely vary as the work is directed more towards the client’s needs, while also incorporating my style. As for my favourite, I think they are each so eclectic and unique that they all hold a special place for me.
What are the three things in life that you couldn’t do without?
My daughter Braelynn is a given, along with my loved ones, music, and the simplicity of my daily cup of coffee.
What music are you listening to a lot these days?
I can never get sick of any music from the '80s: Depeche Mode, The Cure etc. But honestly, it changes every day and depends on my mood. One day Daft Punk, the next Yann Tiersen.
Your work has appeared on TV and movie sets. If you could pick one show to feature your artwork, which one would it be?
If Friends was still on air, I would love to hang out in Monica and Rachel's apartment. I think the set design had such a great aesthetic and personal style that it would have been fun to be a part of it.
Eyes or lips?
Text: Nicholas Potter