Cultivating Emotion through Digital Illustrations, Facial Expressions & Symbolism

Laura H. Rubin

Based in Switzerland, with a background in film and visual effects, Laura has discovered a creative passion in her digital characters and illustrative brush strokes. Her storyboards evolved into powerful messages of our personal uniqueness, beyond external appearances. Beautiful dark, painted bodies and floral patterns, deviates the viewer to look in to the eyes of Laura’s characters and form a deep internal connection with their soul and emotion. Titles of her work include, “Alone in the Crowd” , “Trapped Inside A Broken Body“, and “Behind the Black,” validate those feelings and evoke a bond that we can relate to.

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“I hope to create many more intense characters and facial expressions in the future, while continuing to trigger thought and emotion.”Laura H. Rubin

Before I made art, I didn’t really know if I was acting genuine. In a way, we all wear a mask to meet the expectations of society and sometimes we may forget who we really are. One should be motivated, happy, satisfied with little etc… Since I could not possibly meet these demands I started to pack all the emotions, which I could not show in public, into my work. Which makes me a more balanced person today than I ever was before. In this sense, my art has made me authentic.

Authenticity In Art

Can you tell us a bit more about your recent work “Phobos & Deimos”? What motivated you to gravitate to this specific topic of mythological gods and spirits?

Mythological stories are great sources of inspiration for artists because they are known in almost all cultures. Thus, as an artist, you can benefit from the previous knowledge of the viewers, since you do not have to explain the figures you have reinterpreted.

Phobos and Deimos are however rather unknown characters. In 1877 the astronomer Asaph Hall discovered the two small moons orbiting the planet Mars, which were later called “Phobos & Deimos”. More than 130 years later, scientists are still trying to unravel the mysteries surrounding the deep black, crater-drawn moons.

Phobos & Deimos were named after the children of the god of war “Ares” (lat. Mars) and were the gods of panic and fear.
Although they were the sons (in my case daughters) of the god of war, they were also sons of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, so the twins also represented the fear of loss.

Phobos carries a human skull on a silk thread around her waist. The way she touches the skull is supposed to be an association with Michelangelo’s work “The Creation of Adam.” So, as life was given to us, it can be taken away from us. Deimos is holding an infested deer in front of her, which represents our destructive attitude towards nature. So Phobos & Deimos take back what we don’t deserve.

I am in love with all your work.  What attracted me most, was your painted floral, blue bodied suits on females. “Alone in the crowd” is my personal favorite because many of us can relate. Can you tell us about this series and the inspiration behind each element? Colors, floral patterns emotional response.

Thank you so much. The floral patterns are a continuation of the dark bodies, which I made because I wanted people to focus on the faces of the characters. Nowadays, we get distracted far too quickly by irrelevant details, like clothes, and pay far too little attention to the true character of a person.

The floral body painting can be compared to a “uniqueness”, no matter if it’s a mental or physical uniqueness. I’ve worked with complementary colors because they enhance the effect of the respective colors.

Therefore, especially in the work “Alone in the Crowd,” I tried to let this floral pattern melt into her body in a way that the viewer has the feeling that this character was born with this unique “birthmark”, which excludes her from the masses. In this work, I was especially inspired by a beautiful poem by Edgar Allan Poe called “Alone”.

This poem is written from the perspective of an adult who remembers his troubled childhood which made him gloomy. He has been different from others since his childhood and was not brought up in a typical family setting. He spent most of his time alone and could not get a chance to share his thoughts, feelings, and experiences with others. Therefore, his perception of life and nature is different from that of people who had enjoyed a good childhood.

Are there any innovative techniques that you have learned over the years?

I guess I can’t call it a “technique”, but I have created my own digital brushes over several months, which do not imitate real brushes but can imitate skin structures. By combining different base brushes it is possible to create almost every skin type.

How has your workflow progressed? What do you wish to achieve moving forward?

In the beginning, I drew a picture with the aim to have something suitable to post on my social media channels. But at some point, you know what you’re doing and you can focus on the background of the work, which in a way gives your Artworks a soul, and this has certainly changed my work. I hope to create much more “intense” characters and facial expressions in the future, hoping to trigger even more intense emotions in the viewer.

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