From the courtroom to the comfort of her own home, Natalie Rompotis went from being a very successful commercial lawyer to a very successful fashion illustrator in an #Insta-nt.
While on maternity leave, Natalie took up sketching again, which was a childhood hobby and love of hers, to relax and unwind between nappy changes and late nights. She is now followed by over 19,000 followers on Instagram alone, and has had her illustrations reposted by the likes of Maison Valentino, Marchesa and Reese Witherspoon. She has had her work featured on the official website of Beyoncé, Harper’s Bazaar Australia, Elle, The New York Times and has worked for Harper’s Bazaar Mexico and Latin America, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia as their official illustrator and Myer, to name a few. It’s safe to say @natalierompotis has ‘made it’.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Natalie recently and was completely nervous and star-struck in the lead-up. As it turns out, she is so lovely and down to earth, we ended up going off on a tangent multiple times about art, babies, pregnancy and travelling. She was such a genuinely nice person it is not hard to see why she has been so successful. Natalie is now a full-time freelance fashion illustrator and here is some of what we talked about.
Congratulations on achieving recognition as one of the top 12 Australian fashion illustrators by Harper’s Bazaar. How did you feel when you found out?
It was such a lovely surprise, I had no idea until the article came out and I was extremely honoured to be included among some very talented Australian illustrators.
When did you know you wanted to become an illustrator?
I have always loved drawing from as early as I can remember. My love of illustrating never left me and even though I went on to study arts/law and work as a lawyer for a number of years, I was always sketching away during lectures or in the courtroom. Art had always been a hobby and it was only until I took some time off after having children and turned my mind to it more that I suppose I took it a little more seriously and decided to pursue it professionally.
How did you feel about leaving your law career behind, and all the years of study that went with it, and pursuing illustration?
It wasn’t an easy decision to make, but I do believe that you need to be true to your calling, and particularly if the timing feels right. I do not for a minute regret my studies, work and the skills I developed along the way (which will always remain with me and are often useful in my current profession) and I always keep an open mind that I may one day decide to return to law. Having had my children, however, allowed me to ‘re-centre’ so to speak, and gave me the opportunity to pause and think about what I really wanted to do. I just love creating.
How would you describe your work?
My work has a very feminine aesthetic, and I am influenced by high fashion, classic cinema, haute couture and French culture. I love creating elegant worlds and a little escapism from the everyday.
How long does it take you to complete an illustration?
Anywhere between six to 20 hours, even longer for some of my work.
What do you think helped you stand out in the sea of illustrations on Instagram?
I’m not entirely sure, but soon after I began posting my work to my Instagram account (a couple of years ago now), I was very fortunate to have Beyoncé use my illustration of her sister Solange on her website, followed by reposts of a few others such as Maison Valentino and Reese Witherspoon. Up until then I hadn’t given my work a lot of serious thought as I wasn’t sure what kind of reception it would get, given the sea of talent that can be found on social media. I’m also self-taught, which creates its own insecurities for someone as particular as me! I just think I’ve been very lucky, to be honest, as it’s grown very organically from there.
What has been your career highlight?
There have been a few moments I’d consider highlights, but one that has stood out for me was being interviewed by The New York Times over my tribute work of the legendary NY fashion photographer Bill Cunningham. I had to lock myself in my bedroom to take the 7.00 am call to avoid my very noisy four and two-year-old!
Is there anyone you admire?
I love the work of René Gruau, and in particular his iconic Dior illustrations. I also admire the work of David Downton. His portaiture work is incredible and his level of talent is something I’ll always try to aspire to.
What advice would you give to young followers who want to be like you?
Keep practising and experimenting with different mediums and styles. Don’t try to ‘pigeon-hole’ your personal style too soon and above all, be true to your tastes and don’t worry about trends and what you think people might like. Above all, have fun!
This was your activity to unwind when you had children. Now that it’s your job, what do you do to unwind?
I still illustrate to unwind − perhaps with a glass of red in hand! There is something so calming and cathartic about sketching away. There is a good reason all these adult colouring books are so popular.
What’s next for Natalie Rompotis?
I am live illustrating for the Australian Turf Club in Sydney for the Spring Racing Carnival at Royal Randwick which is always lots of fun − there are some beautiful outfits for fashions on the field. I’m looking forward to seeing my illustration of Diana Vreeland in the October issue of Harper’s Bazaar Mexico and Latin America. Other than that, I am planning my move back to Melbourne with the family (having moved to Sydney for a few years) by the end of the year, so it’s going to be a busy rest of 2016.