Orlove scrutinizes celebrity culture via her illustrations and in doing so holds a magnifying glass up to modern life.
Hollywood-based illustrator and video director Faye Orlove is obsessed with celebrities and musicians. For some the “magic” of Hollywood has been reduced to a bunch of walking trash, but Orlove feels no shame—she'll gladly sketch a member of the Kardashian clan; idol worship is her sweet spot. Although she has a degree in post-production and loves making music videos (most recently she directed the beachy, ice cream lickin' short for Slutever's “White Flag”), Orlove's latest triumph is SHRINE, her debut illustration book which features deft portraits of everyone from Miley Cyrus to Courtney Love to Stevie Nicks to Scott Disick. Published by record label Don Giovanni, the collection is now available online and there will be a little party with live music in Los Angeles to celebrate its release on the first of February. Come along
SHRINE reminds me of the way I decorated my bedroom walls when I was a teenager—pasting up photos ripped from magazines of the rock stars I wanted to be. I sat down with Orlove to talk about portraits, art, and idol worship.
Noisey: When did you realize you could draw?
Faye Orlove: I’ve always been naturally good at drawing, which I found intimidating because everyone would see what I had done and think it was so great. I would want the next thing I drew to be even better. I had to live up to the pressure. It was a deterrent for me for a couple years.
A Faye Orlove is a Faye Orlove. You have developed a very specific aesthetic over the years…
I started with portraits because I have a deep love for celebrities. I am obsessed with idol worship. It wouldn’t be for any reason, but more so that I was in a Patti Smith phase and had to draw her a million times.
It was your way of worship.
Yeah, then I guess it developed into a simple line work process. When I draw by hand I like to use colored pencil. When I draw on the computer in photoshop, I have a special screen called CINTIQ that you draw directly on which is great because it leaves so much more room for error and to play around with colors. Click and fill! I’ve never used actual paint, I only use digital paint. It can feel like cheating sometimes, but whatever. In the back of the book, I detailed what materials I used to make each piece so the audience would know.
What made you want to do the book?
It wasn’t my idea. Joe from Don Giovanni Records asked me if he could put out a book of my illustrations. He’s been asking for years and I felt that by the end of last year I had enough content to make a cohesive theme with enough work I was proud of. The book has been through tons of iterations. It’s just a book of celebrity.
Maybe that’s why you were drawn to move from Boston to Los Angeles?
I do love LA culture. I love walking through Hollywood and seeing Chris Pratt. It’s still cool to me. I grew up in Maryland, just outside of DC, then I ended up in Boston for six years and finally settled here in LA last year.
What’s the ultimate goal with your art?
My favorite place to go when I was in high school was The National Portrait Gallery in DC. All our museums were free and that place was only a 10 minute bus ride for me. I used to go there and hang out with my friend Rachel every weekend. I always wanted to have a portrait up there that I drew. That’s it. I want drawing celebrities to be a fine art. There was a Notorious BIG painting in the Portrait Gallery and it was my favorite one. It was so cool. It was framed with it’s little white plaque.
There is such a shameful stigma to idol worship and I do not get it. At its core, it’s just sociology. You are studying culture by dissecting a celebrity. I think in 100 years if someone watched Season 10 of Keeping Up The Kardashians they would find out a lot about where popular culture was at during that time period.
Here's Faye Orlove next to her portrait of Stevie.
I've definitely stopped using the phrase guilty pleasure. I did when I was young, of course. You know, you're into alternative culture, but you go home and secretly listen to Avril Lavigne CDs and don’t tell your friends and feel ashamed. But the whole idea of that is just dumb. You like what you like. People can think it’s vapid or straight up dumb to obsess over Kim Kardashian, but through just talking about her and the phenomenon of her celebrity ideas of infidelity, divorce, and fame are all brought up. For me, it’s not just, “Did you see her latest selfie?” It's about what Kim teaches us about bigger ideas in selfie-culture. The whole concept of self-documentation is fascinating. We put such a huge focus on exposing our own personal lives and developing our online personas. You can learn just as much from their internet persona, how they want to be seen as, as in real life. It’s all a piece of them. You see someone’s Instagram and you can tell if you would be friends with them by the way they post. That’s just a new facet of life we have to navigate in our relationships.
You do not even have to be a notable person or vaguely famous to be Googlable. We are all on there.
I know. I just want to draw portraits of people I think are awesome. I want to keep elevating my friends to this status where people want to see their portraits because they have done something great.
Mish Way is the the singer of White Lung and a Noisey Contributor. Follow her on Twitter.