Yali Ziv

“As women, these challenges are multiplied, because we are so used to be sweet and polite and not confront. It’s so challenging to tell ourselves that we are good at what we do and to demand what we deserve without feeling bad about it. “


Hello Yali!
How would you describe yourself – who is Yali Ziv?

I’m Yali, and I’m a freelance illustrator based in Tel Aviv. Most of the time I work with commercial brands that are mainly related to design, fashion and lifestyle, that have ideas and projects that I connect and relate to. I work from my studio at home, which I share with my partner and cat.

Could you tell us a bit about your journey into illustration?
As long as my memory goes back, I was always sketching and drawing. When I grew up I realized that if there was something that came to me as easily and naturally as painting, then maybe I should do something with it. I studied Visual Communication Design and Illustration, and I’m very happy that I made my biggest hobby my job.

Can the creativity be learned later, or is it a feeling that is always within the human being?
I think that creativity and talent are things that have to be practiced, like fitness. If I don’t draw in a certain technique for a long time, it will be hard for me to return to it and be good at it. Also, original ideas and creative thinking do not come from anywhere. What helps me personally, is to think and plan independent projects, so that I do not constantly depend on the client and external deadlines.

Do you have any specific reason to draw mostly female portraits?
I usually draw female characters – first of all, because it is easier and more fun for me. Second, as a feminist woman and creator, when I can choose – I’d rather choose to represent woman (and man) that are based on beauty models that are different and varied. For example, using different skin and hair colors and body types.

What has been your greatest struggle as a freelance creative so far? Do you have any tips for artists thinking of doing freelance?
I’m quite certain that if my job was solely to draw all day, life would be pretty simple and easy. As freelancers, we deal with a lot of struggles on a day to day basis. Client communication, expectations and the scariest of all- money. As women, these challenges are multiplied, because we are so used to be sweet and polite and not confront. It’s so challenging to tell ourselves that we are good at what we do and to demand what we deserve without feeling bad about it. I guess every artist who thinks of doing freelance should be ready to confront these issues. Let’s just hope it will get easier with time and experience 🙂

Can you say the advantage & disadvantage of being an illustrator?
I think that the best thing is basically doing my favorite thing- drawing all day and getting paid for it- Sounds like a dream. But on the other hand, as I mentioned before, the freelance struggles are always challenging for me.

Have you ever had any bad client experience? If so, how did you handle it?
Customers are human beings – and naturally, it’s a matter of chemistry and connection. Some people are fun and pleasant to work with, and some are not. When I first started working as an illustrator I would do many rounds of corrections and touch-ups and work much longer than the hours I got paid for. I usually try to make the contract and the work method very clear from the beginning, the steps, the sketches, and the touch-ups if needed.

We’ve read one of your interviews; you said that you’re always dreaming about illustration for children. How close are you to this dream for now?
I really love children’s books, and it’s a great inspiration for me. I’m sure I will illustrate for children’s books in the future, and maybe even write. Lately, it has been fun for me and more suitable to focus on commercial work directed at adults. Of course, if I suddenly get a very interesting offer with a story that I will connect with, I would be happy.

Have you found any inspiration in an unexpected place recently?
I get a lot of inspiration from architecture. My partner is completing his bachelor’s degree in architecture this year and is working on a final project that deals with urban planning. As someone who usually looks at the world mainly through colors and shapes, it is interesting to see a completely different work process and accompany it from the side.

What are your top five songs on your playlist?
These Days – Nico
Blood Orange – Best to You
Molly Nilsson -1995
Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
It- Christine and the Queens

Can you make a list of the best movies that you watched last year?
Green Book, Get out, Moana, The Cakemaker

You’re living in Tel Aviv, Israel. Do you think the city you are living in effect the way you illustrate?
I love Tel Aviv, it’s a diverse and interesting city. There are many kinds of people here, and that’s what gives me the most inspiration. I never just draw the landscape, there are always people or figures that intrigue me. I feel like I have a social responsibility when it comes to my work and illustrations. Politics is everywhere, even in what we create. Social and human issues are always occupying my mind.

Where are your favorite spots in Tel Aviv? Food, coffee, shops, etc.
Coffee with friends-poc.cafe in Florentine neighborhood, near my house
Shopping in the Hatikvah market, and the best vegan food in Tel Aviv- BANA.

Who are your creative heroes? Writers, artists, musicians, family members or friends who influenced you as you were growing up? Have they changed over time?
I grew up in a very creative home, full of color, emotion, and art. My mother has been a theater actress for many years, my father is a tour guide that works around the world, and my brother is a classical composer and plays the piano. Because of my father’s work, he always brought home a lot of interesting gifts – objects and textiles from distant countries and made me exposed to tribal art from all over the world. As a child, I did not understand the profound meaning of these memories, and now as an illustrator, I know that they greatly influenced my aesthetics and style.

What other illustrators/designers are you digging these days?
Marcus Oakley, John Zabawa, Sonia Delaunay, NINA DONIS

Are you obsessed with something?
I’m obsessed with cleaning and order, I actually clean my place every morning before I start working. And my cat, of course.

Could you give us three fun facts about yourself?
I don’t know how to ride a bicycle
When I was little I acted in a television series
My favorite food is rice

Finally, is there something you wish interviewers would ask you — but never do?
I can tell that my favorite tv show at all times is Rupaul’s Drag Race and I highly recommend.

Thank you!