Jasmin Mondata is a digital portrait artist who uses photo references of people as a basis for creating stunning works of art – bringing out the unique personality of the subject. Taking artistic licence and corresponding with her clients, Jasmin creates uplifting artwork that’s truly more than just the sum of its parts.
Jasmin was kind enough to answer some questions about her artistic style, what inspires her, and how she works.
Hi Jasmin, when did you discover your interest in art and portraiture?
Being creative has always come naturally to me. A popular pastime for me growing up was playing around in Adobe Photoshop, and eventually, I graduated from the University of Hertfordshire with a First Honours BA in Illustration. I used to get by using my MacBook Air trackpad to draw and design, but a friend from university surprised me with a Wacom tablet, and it instantly improved the way I created art.
I didn’t get into digital portraiture until recently, at the end of 2018. I wanted to gift a digital portrait (which I would then print onto canvas and have framed), but I had only ever done character designs, book jackets and similar commercial work until then. I’m always curious to learn something new, so I signed onto a one-week digital painting course from Paintable, which taught me the fundamentals of how to get started. Seeing someone’s likeness artistically come to life brought me such joy. As I began to look at different faces, my own style of digital portraiture naturally flourished from there.
What influences your creativity?
The magical and adventurous themes running through Studio Ghibli’s animations are a big inspiration. They remind me that life goes beyond what we’re told to believe, and that wonder and playfulness are within easy reach. It’s that feeling of possibility that I like to infuse into my own art. Thankfully, inspiration can come from anywhere, especially in the most mundane of places. A crack in the road can offer a new shape, or a field of damp grass can inspire a refreshing hue. Without much effort, anything can influence a new portrait. I find the more present I am in a moment, inspiration tends to come naturally.
In your experience, what kind of advantages does working digitally give you?
Being a digital artist offers me freedom. I’ve explored other mediums during university, but nothing has given me more liberty than digital painting. Everything is more efficient – correcting mistakes and rearranging the composition are things I can do without disrupting my workflow. It also allows for any last-minute adjustments that clients want, which can be more challenging to achieve with traditional mediums.
My work as a digital portrait artist is also highly scalable. My art can be adjusted to fit any social media platform and printed on most materials. It can be as small as a thumbnail or as grand as a mural. The possibilities are truly endless, and that’s what I love most about being a digital artist: exploring potential.
How would you describe your style of digital portraiture?
My digital painting style is definitely colourful, vibrant and whimsical. When I paint, the work flows through me, and hopefully, you can see that organic energy throughout my paintings. Depending on the client, a portrait can be surreal and theatrical to emphasis a theme. It can also take the shape of a classic head and shoulders portrait – but I’ll always incorporate my own elements of colour and texture that align with my bright style. My technique is still evolving, but I’m excited with what I’m currently creating. The vividness of my digital portraits lifts my spirits, and I hope it can give the same feeling to others.
How do you bring out the emotion and personality of your subject in your portraits?
I usually use photo references to flesh out my portraits – and photos are only ever a glimpse into who that person is. Knowing more about their personality helps me tap into what colours and textures will draw out their best features, and that will guide the rest. On some occasions, I go by my creative instincts and paint with what I’m feeling. Art is as therapeutic to the artist as it can be for the audience, and it’s one of the most significant outlets I have as a digital artist – to be able to create with my feelings as they are.
Art will always mean something contrary to different viewers, but it’s human nature to recognise emotion in others. Looking at a face with a smile or with a twinkle in their eyes instantly gives them life – it pulls you in and offers you a story to follow. I definitely favour a smile or a look of wonderment and gravitate towards happier and more confident expressions to play with.
Who are your most frequent customers, and what ways do they implement your work?
My customers are mostly within the sustainable fashion sector and the ethical healthcare and beauty industry. I find that digital portraiture is about portraying a person in a stylised way, either from head to shoulder or full-body, so my work is an excellent medium for such enterprises to use for their marketing. With my colours, vibrancy and playfulness, it can highlight the beauty of their products directly as they were meant to be used – on people living their best life. I’m personally interested in an ethical lifestyle, so I partner well with businesses that offer a strong ethos at the forefront of their brand.
What is your average turnaround time? Do you have a specific work schedule that you follow with each commission?
It takes me roughly 48 hours to complete simple digital portraits, but a more complicated piece can take me up to a week or more. Bringing a commission through to completion works best when I follow a structured routine. It starts with getting to know the clients’ requirements and goals, and from there, we can work together to find a solution.
I sketch up to three concepts for approval before I move onto the colouring. We go through another round of feedback before I render the portrait into its first form. From there, the fun of creating a unique piece flows forward, and it’s about striking a balance between creativity and what the client is seeking. The more I work with a client, the quicker I can paint, as I’m more in tune with their preferences in terms of style, compositions, colours, and so on.
Being able to bring someone’s vision to life through digital painting is phenomenal. Whether it stays on social media or transfers to a physical medium, I love that I can be apart of such a collaborative process.
Are there are new pieces of equipment/software you want to use, or new directions you would like to take your digital art in the future?
I would like to compare Procreate on the Apple iPad with Adobe Photoshop and a Wacom – the latter being what I’m familiar with. I see travelling to be a big part of my future, so it would be handy to have something very compact, such as an iPad, for convenience.
At the moment, I love digital portraiture, but I’m always open to new influences and opportunities. I really enjoy meeting new clients and discovering their industries and what challenges they bring. I’m excited about the future, and I’m looking forward to making the next project a big success.