Vuetelle Interview Series #4: Borzu

Vuetelle Interview Series #4

Fashion Editor D. Lauren Chun

"pop" Britney X Marilyn - "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - drawing on paper - 2019

A creative with a broad eye for extreme details,
Borzu Ravan (10/9/1988, San Diego, CA) is an Artist based in Brooklyn, New York.

The visual perfectionist uses different mediums such as drawing, graphic design, photography, film making, and fashion design to express his vision. Borzu describes his work as his way of communicating, a dense reflection of nature, and a philosophical take on "reality", with a touch of positivity and aesthetics.

"I prefer to see everything through a beauty magnifier."

"American Dream" Gigi Hadid - "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - drawing on paper - 2017

Vuetelle: Hello Borzu, thank you so much for agreeing to do an interview with us.
We are so excited! Let’s start with this question: Who is Borzu Ravan?

Borzu: Thank you so much for having me. I am excited as well!

Borzu Ravan is creative rollercoaster who overly loves and cares about everything.
People, animals, and nature matter to me tremendously.

I have high sensitivity... the slightest change in sound, movement, light, and temperature has noticeable consequences on me.
And given my sharp senses, I tend to see everything from its microscopic detail to whole.

I use my art as an escape for a better reality, and I enjoy sharing that world with others.

I am an extremely hard working perfectionist; nothing will slip by me until its RIGHT.
I have a very lavish interior which allows me to get the best of every situation. Music, Fashion, Art, and Film are what I am all about.

And can I just thank you for meeting me in a pizza and wine place?
Literally my two favorites.

V: We love pizza too!
Thank you for this answer. I feel like we got to know you more in-depth through your thoughtful answer.

V: You had your first solo painting exhibition at the age of fourteen.
Did you know from a young age that you wanted to enter the art field?

B: Honestly, I had no idea I was doing anything artistic or out of ordinary.
My assumption was that every kid has an exhibition at this age.

Although the gallerist had to contact my guardians to validate my artistic claims and was skeptical about exhibiting such a young teenager, the exhibition went on being sold out.

So in regards to wanting to enter the art field, I don't think it was ever a matter of choice, I was already in it.

"The Eye" - "Riot" series - Oil on Canvas - 2005 (Award-winning piece)

Custom portrait - pen and pencil on paper - 2003

V: Well, we know that you always knew that art is your path, but was there also a pivotal moment that made you think, this is it - I will become an artist?

B: Being an Artist is probably the hardest job to take on, especially in NYC.
Despite the casual hustle that keeps pushing you to the edge,
I did have 2 awakening moments.

One was the set back I had after finishing my formal education.
The thought of having to repeat a single task from 9 to 5 for the rest of my life frightened me. I knew I had to make a fundamental change.

Another major point was the good push that I got from social media.
This is when I posted my first drawing, the Rihanna piece. This kind of portrait filled with abstract designs was definitely something new at that time, and of course who doesn't love Rihanna... the public really liked it.
The piece gained me, 10,000 followers, overnight. From that on I started getting amazing feedback from major celebrities like Pharrell, Gigi Hadid, Cara Delevingne, and Kiesza, which led me to a new path of confidence and passion, and there it came amazing collaborations which I am so grateful for.

"Rihanna"- "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - mixed media on paper - 2016

Kiesza - Dearly Beloved single Cover Art designed by Borzu Ravan

V: It is definitely important to have that reinforcement and reassurance that your passion is valid.

B: I think everyone needs some sort of validation.
It's all about connecting and spreading the love.

And right now my biggest connection is to this pizza and wine.
I feel completely at home lol

Can we quote me on "Home is where pizza is" and put it on the title? haha

V: What do you like most about being an Artist in New York?

B: New York is a mecca of people who cherish life to the fullest. That's what I'm all about.
It's about diversity, it's about nurturing our differences and celebrating our commonality.

The people here are my biggest inspiration.
I've always preferred learning through experience, and New York is the place for that.
It's a real-life education that I wish everyone could experience.

Yes, the city is cruel and will tear you down, but it's only because the better version of you is in the making. It always requires you to be on your A-game, and being the perfectionist that I am, it resonates with me deeply. Throughout its chaos, It's quite a sacred space, which is mandatory for a creative.

V: You were formally trained in Architectural, Industrial Design, and Film Making. You have industrial design works that reached production line including your Veroni House wear. What pushed you to venture into different areas of art, especially drawing?

B: I have been drawing ever since I can remember.
But being limited to one way of expression is literally prison to me. Even in school, I was always drawing or making something creative in the back of the class.

Don’t get me wrong though, my lowest grade in all my school years is a B, but I just have to multitask.

Creative minds have their own ways of doing things, and it's only through the unique approach that makes you stand out. Unless you prefer being mass-produced like a product. That's why I never wanted to study arts and make it academic for myself.

The 2 famous sayings, "Know the rules to break them" and "Think outside the box" never made sense to me. There are infinite ways to execute an idea, and for me, there was never a box, to begin with.

"Veroni House Ware" Industrial Design work by Borzu Ravan - 2014

"New York" Graphic design by Borzu Ravan

V: Some warn of the dangers of turning your passion into a career.
How did you overcome the fear of making something that is your passion and inspires you into your career?

B: It's still an ongoing fear for me.
You just learn to cope with it better with time. Great achievements don't come easily.
When creating, you are putting your most intricate and private thoughts on the table for people to see and judge, and hopefully find a connection through it. This already is a scary process that requires major vulnerability and courage, let alone making a career out of its artistry. And the bigger you grow, the bigger the audience and critics, which means more responsibility and work. You need to stay true to your vision and move forward.

V: What do you think makes one an artist?

B: An authentic mindset that's not afraid to question the world. After that its a lot of hard work and sacrifice to push the boundaries

V: You were born in San Diego, and now based in New York, why and when did you move to NY?

B: I have been living in many diverse places in the world between these two cities.
The most consecutive years that I've lived in one place is 4 years.

But speaking of San Diego, I do find it extremely beautiful and convenient. But so amazing that it leaves you in a constant observational mood. I'm all about giving back and creation.

NYC is an ever-changing playground that brings you new inspiring challenges every day. It makes you feel alive. I moved here 2 years ago with a backpack full of dreams.

V: So life as an artist in NYC… currently based in Brooklyn, what is your day to day like?

B: I have never walked so much in my life! Haha
It's not all created for me anymore. There is a lot of paperwork, emails, meetings, negotiations, You will eventually have to learn about lawyers, agents, PRs, and take on so many new tasks that you never thought would be part of being a creative Artist.

NYC gives you that professional platform to pursue your career. It's the most rewarding struggle.

V: What is your favorite Art Gallery or Museum in NYC?

B: The MET! I get goosebumps every time. I wish to be part of it someday.

Khutulun - Close up - color pencil on paper 2016 (award-winning piece)

B: Well there is always a muse, but my influence was never a specific person.
I think its an everyday reflection. Nature and music play a big role. The sound of the cello can take over my entire body and soul. Societal and mental issues are huge reasons why. Pain, sadness, and a lot of dark thoughts are experienced and witnessed that require recreations.

I’m always been fascinated by details. I prefer to see everything through a beauty magnifier. Also given my diverse lifestyle, different cultures have joined hands too.

V: From your portfolio, it seems that you worked heavily with oil painting in your earlier days and have moved on to make more use of colored pencils, markers, and digital art.

B: It might be because I’m getting more hypercritical with time.
Colored pencils give you details that oil paint could never. And digital art gives you the option of limitless recreation and edit, which is as close to cloud nine for an indecisive person like me.

"Destruction" - "Vanity in The wild" series - digital art - 2018

"Compromise" - "Vanity in The wild" series - digital art - 2018

V: How do you conceive your ideas? What is your process?

B: I usually start from one idea, and end with another.
Errors in technique always help me come up with more creative ideas in the making.

I don't like pre sketching.

V: I see lots of extending and morphing of figures in your works, especially in your portrait series, Portrait of The Modern Age, photography series, Flying Without Wings, and your upcoming film, Dark Insecurities. There is certainly a feeling of an organic presence when the colors swirl, and when the figure’s body parts morph, there is a strong sense of movement. Any comments on your choice to represent figures in this way?

B: Thank you for this question. I have never thought about why to these forms. But isn't everything moving at all times? The Earth, me, you, our bodies, everything within, and on the outside is in a cycle. Sometimes I think of gravity as chains that keep us locked. These figures embody a more liberal form of freedom.

It's also a preference for aesthetics.

Still Images from "Dark Insecurities"

V: Dark Insecurities is your most recent Film in progress. From the scenes that you showed us, it was very compelling. The image of a female figure, and her lower body creating a wide landscape-like vision while her erased yet distinct gaze was absolutely striking. Could you tell us more about this work?

B: It's interesting how the concept came about.
As someone who was never allowed to have any concerns or issues growing up myself, I asked friends on social media to write me letters concerning their darkest insecurities which they are too scared to share with anyone. I received overwhelming +2000 letters and voice messages. You won't believe how ridiculously common these "issues" are.

I'm hoping to bring ease and comfort to all of us by changing the insecurities perception to normality and strength.

"Flying" - Flying Without Wings Series - Photography

"son" - Flying Without Wings Series - Photography

V: Your photography series, Flying Without Wings, is currently showing at Site Brooklyn Gallery.
You describe this series as your most personal body of work yet. Is it okay if we ask you to expand further on the personal connection of the work and yourself?

B: The series is based on the writing of mine that speaks of uprising from a downfall of mental abuse and manipulation.

V: Aside from your own photography series, you are also heavily involved in Fashion Film and photography for a long time.
What are the differences between your fashion-related photography works and your own conceptual photography?

B: When doing Fashion Photography, you usually do it for a client and the focus needs to be on the clothing or product.
With my conceptual exhibition work, I basically have a bit more flexibility, but it doesn't make it any better than my editorial work.
I enjoy doing both equally.

Dominique Jackson - Actress

V: Many of your works are composed of repetitive design. Is the process meditative?
What is involved in your workflow -is there any music? Or a specific thought process?

B: Such a great question! I wonder why no one has ever asked me that haha.
Yes! Extremely meditative.

And I find it insanely odd because I am that person who is up all night due to the ticking sound of the next-door neighbor's clock.
But these repetitive designs are something different...I start off drawing by listening to music. It's like stretching before an intense workout. It prepares me for the journey.

Sometimes it's difficult to enter that world, but OMG when I do, I find myself conscious after 4 hours without even realizing the passage of time and how a song has been repeated 92016319263 times.

Breast Cancer (Lady Gaga) - "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - color pencil on paper 2018


V: Do you have a preferred genre of music or does it change for each work?

B: I might go through a million mood changes a day which requires music from all genres.

V: Many of your works have smaller designs that merge together to form a bigger picture.
I think this also symbolically ties with your series, Portraits of The Modern Age.

You talked about how each piece in the series focuses on the current pop figures, especially powerful women, and how they comment on the modern world, each figure being a piece to describe the Modern Age as a whole.

Would you like to talk to us more about Portraits of The Modern Age? I know it is a very significant series for you.

B: Portrait of The Modern Age is my best drawing yet.
Its been 4 years in the making. The execution of these details takes months.

The theme of the series stays consistent in being portraits of today's popular figures, but each piece speaks on a different subject itself. I think it's great to use the popular platform to get important messages across. I can't wait to exhibit them as an entire series.

POP (Britney X Marilyn) - "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - color pencil on paper 2019
2018 Adam and Eve (Katy Perry) - "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - color pencil on paper 2018

V: Do you have a favorite work of yours?

B: The latest work is always the favorite. But my first oil painting has a special place in my heart.

V: If you had to choose another career what would it be?

B: Well there is no escaping from being a Creative Artist, but maybe acting.

V: What is next for Borzu Ravan?

B: I want to make it more into entertainment. There is so much I want to do.
I wanted to become a film and music video director from an early age.
Late 90's and early 2000's music scene plays a big part in shaping that dream. MTV It up to my eyes back in the day!

Graphic Designs, Photography, and Music Videos were something extraordinary to me, and I wish to be part of that more. More Fashion, more art, more photography, more film.

I never limit myself, so who knows.

V: Thank you for the amazing interview Borzu, any words to wrap up?

B: Thank you so much for your time. I had an amazing evening, and the pizza was so good. 

Gigi Hadid - "Portrait of the Modern Age" series - color pencil on paper 2016
Originally published on June 18th, 2019.