Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul | By Yaansoon IllustrationI grew up in a family where one person only had tonnes of foundation on, and she did not represent the family’s norm. I personally was deeply influenced by my late grandmother’s kind of thinking – and that is: Real Beauty is Beauty of the Soul. So, I created these hand-lettering illustrations to put this kind of logic out in the world – especially that we seem to be going through a “heavy foundation era” (that acts more like a “mask” to our inner insecurities than anything else).

The other day I was on YouTube watching video after video about ways to apply foundation, contouring, highlights, and the latest fad, strobing. These videos all seemed like elaborate tutorials to help you look like someone you’re not (and to entice you to buy more and more beauty products).

I hated those videos and started to look for something that looked more natural, toned down and earthy, and I found it. It’s called “French Girl Makeup,” which is the complete opposite of what some like to term as “American Girl Makeup” (which probably excludes New York, San Fran, and Portland).

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul | By Yaansoon IllustrationI also came across this article on Brit + Co., which sheds some light on how our attitude towards makeup is pretty much a representation of our attitude towards life in general, and towards ourselves. I like this particular intro:

“No one lives the ‘less is more’ lifestyle better than French girls, especially when it comes to beauty. Appearing in what seems like constant #wokeuplikethis state, they basically wrote the book on lazy girl hair and makeup — fingers through bedhead, a wash of foundation (if any) and maybe mascara + lip gloss to get out-the-door ready. So it comes as no surprise that the one makeup trend they swear off is one of the most heavy-handed techniques around, and one for which *we* American girls have become globally notorious: contouring.”

The article goes on to quote a known French makeup artist in saying: “The main beauty philosophy in France is to accept who you are.”

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Real Beauty, Makeup, and the Soul | By Yaansoon IllustrationHow we use makeup is in deed a sign of a certain “mentality” that we need to be aware of, to be able to address the issues beneath.

The “French Girl” school of thought (and makeup) does teach us a lot about how to approach our skin: If we have bad skin, why make it worse by suffocating it under loads of makeup? Maybe we need to try and see if there is something internal going on that is causing all the inflammation or the uncontrollable zits. Maybe we need a drastic change in our diet or lifestyle, or maybe we need to be more mindful of our stress levels and mental health.

That’s one layer of the argument. The deeper layer is our soul.

As young teenagers it is pretty normal to live on the “surface” of things, to be shallow, and maybe easily taken by the glitz and glitter around us. But as we grow older, we might need to try and figure out the deeper meaning of life, who we are, and things as they truthfully are.

Our definition of beauty is probably one of the surest signs of our ability to mature and grow, both spiritually and mentally. It’s not easy, especially if we live in a culture that is heavily invested in outer beauty. But we can always make the choice to break out of these molds, and chart a more truthful and healthier path!

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New Blog Series: ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal’

New Blog Series: 'My Travel Illustrations Journal' | By Yaansoon IllustrationI’ve always wanted to keep a travel journal where I could glue train ticket stubs onto the pages, or draw tiny drawings to remind me of my experiences in the 20+ countries I have been to. I guess that’s the main drive behind my illustrated travel posts series, dubbed ‘My Travel Illustrations Journal,‘ Naturally, as a former PR gal, I want to take this blog series to the next level by introducing a special badge that sort of ‘brands’ it all and makes it a fixed section in my blog.

I come from a PR and media background, so there is nothing more exciting for me than to engage in a mini branding exercise. I like to create badges (or logos) for each and every blog series I introduce into this blog. The illustration above is my new travel series badge. What do you think? Do you like it?

'My Travel Illustrations Journal': Tunisian Ceramics | By Yaansoon IllustrationHaving a travel journal has always been a dream of mine, but I never got around to it. Over the years I sort of opted to keep my travel pictures, plane tickets, and post cards in a small cardboard box that sat on one of my shelves (mostly collecting dust). I also have another box where I keep my souvenirs and the trinkets I have collected from the different handcraft markets and tiny indie shops I’ve been to around the globe.

This series basically started back in June when I was marveling at the contents of my souvenirs box. That’s when I felt a strong urge to illustrate these knickknacks and baubles and sort of tell their story. As a result, my first official travel post was born and it was about my collection of Tunisian ceramics.

New Blog Series: 'My Travel Illustrations Journal' | By Yaansoon IllustrationWhy I Love Travel

Travel for me is a reminder that life is about endless possibilities. It makes us realize that there is so much more to life than our own narrow experiences. It helps us expand our horizons and keeps us from getting fixated on our own set ways.

Not all people who travel end up expanding their understanding of the human condition. Some take their prejudices and narrow-mindedness with them everywhere they go. They get all judgmental about the customs and traditions of the countries they visit, and constantly keep comparing them to their own. That’s definitely not the kind of traveller I ever wanted to be!

Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You're Traveling to Morocco | By Yaansoon IllustrationTravel and Cultural Respect

When I was lucky enough to visit Morocco a few years ago, I remember going off on my own to visit the local Souk (market). I wanted an authentic experience that wasn’t affected by some of my colleagues’ moods, or maybe the lack of respect they seemed to have for other cultures. The age range varied so much and some of the people in my group were too self-involved for my taste, so I decided I didn’t have to ruin my trip on their account.

In my post, Travel Illustration: 10 Things to Pack When You’re Traveling to Morocco, I talk about suitable attire for visiting public and spiritual areas in Morocco. I had to learn that the hard way, as I went completely unprepared with my sleeveless shirts and torn pair of jeans. I remember buying traditional humble clothing from the market because I wanted to enter a small spiritual mosque, traditionally called ‘Zawya’ in Muslim countries that have a strong Sufi and spiritual heritage, like Morocco.

Respecting other people’s traditions is really the backbone of travel. It helps tame our own judgmental nature and be open to a different way of life, even for just a little while. Otherwise, what’s the point from travel if we are going to come out of these experiences exactly the same people as we first started?

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Hand-Lettering Illustration: A New Way of Seeing Beauty

Hand-Lettering Illustration: Beauty is not in the face... | By Yaansoon Illustration

I grew up in between two worlds. At school, at home, and everywhere else, standards of beauty were pretty much external – placing much emphasis on certain body types, certain nose shapes, and a certain type of hair. But when I spent time with my grandmother, her standards of beauty were always about inner beauty, the heart, and character.

Although my grandma’s voice was the only voice emphasizing such qualities, time and time again life has taught me that the kind of beauty that really matters is that of the heart.

I created this hand-lettering illustration as a reminder to keep my focus on what really matters.

No More Fashion Magazines

Everywhere you turn, you find companies, brands, YouTubers, and people trying to cage us within certain definitions for what is beautiful. And most of these definitions are about looks, style, and image – and not about character, heart, or real inner beauty.

That’s why I stopped buying fashion and beauty magazines. They mostly fill our heads with such false notions about beauty, and they mostly make young women feel inadequate. And when they want to jump on the inner beauty bandwagon, they end up sending mixed messages, because a few pages later you are still faced with the same airbrushed beauty that the magazine is really all about.

A few days ago, I started a huge YouTube purge and unfollowed most of the beauty brands I have ever subscribed to. I felt a sense of true liberation, because now I will stop being bombarded with how-to’s and tutorials that require me to break the bank just to get my hands on the latest lip liner or luminous foundation.

I did keep a few YouTubers who shared their Natural Beauty secrets, but made sure to let go of all the brands that advertised heavy contouring, layers of foundation, and a specific standard of beauty.

Inner Beauty & Self-Esteem

From personal experience, my self-esteem and the way I feel about myself have improved in leaps and bounds when I took every fashion magazine (online and offline) out of my life.

Over the years, I have met many women who truly believed they were unattractive, when I knew for a fact they were very pretty both outwardly and inwardly. The problem they’ve faced all of their lives was that their kind of beauty was rarely represented in fashion magazines, therefore making them believe they were far from being on a par with the Photoshop-doctored images they see on magazine covers and advertisement billboards.

Flaws, What Flaws?

There is something seriously wrong with the world, and that is the fashion and beauty industries. They leech off people’s insecurities and make it their business to amplify them in a way that makes you want to “cover up your flaws” by using their products. The word “flaw” is closely associated with feelings of shame and inadequacy, and that is exactly what the fashion and beauty industries have been fueling the past few decades.

I say, don’t listen to them. Focus on what is within and your whole life will change to the better!

I hope you liked today’s hand-lettering artwork and post. Looking forward to seeing you in my next one!

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New Illustrations: Self-Portrait and Contact Page + Limited-Edition Lifestyle Blog Branding Services on Etsy

Yaansoon Self Portrait Illustration - About + PortfolioIn today’s post I would like to highlight the new illustrations I made for both my About+Portfolio page and my Contact page… as well as the launch of three limited-edition listings on my Etsy shop – dedicated for branding lifestyle, food, and beauty blogs.

I spent last night working on a revamped look for both my About+Portfolio and Contact pages. I have been putting off my self-portrait illustration for sometime now, but I’m glad I spent those extra hours last night to finish it up.

I wanted the self-portrait illustration to reflect who I am as an illustrator and not just the way I looked. Since I love world & tribal cultures + culinary & botanical motifs, I tried to reflect this in my choice of ethnic-looking clothing (which actually reflects my personal fashion style), and added a botanical frame to encapsulate the direction of my illustration style.

Contact Us Form Illustration by Yaansoon Illustration

Lifestyle Blog Re-Branding

Speaking of blog revamping, a week or so ago, I was approached by LexiLife blog on WordPress to create a new logo and blog header for this up-and-coming health and lifestyle blog. The lovely blogger behind LexiLife wanted a blog header that incorporated some of my hand-illustrated botanical motifs, and communicated her interest through my new Contact page. She also had a pretty good idea about the color scheme of her blog, and when I popped by her blog I could gather enough visual cues to help me with my new design.

To be honest, I have worked with so many clients in the PR, media and advertising fields and I have never seen this kind of clarity of vision and professionalism from any of my previous clients or colleagues. Her attitude as a client and fellow blogger played a huge role in putting me in the right mindset for the design, which I truly had a great time making.

LexiLife was also kind enough to write about her experience in this blog post, which received a lot of positive feedback from her readers. Here is an excerpt:

Before I start this weeks blog post, I just want to direct you to my amazing new header! It’s had a major re-vamp and it’s all down to Yaansoon over at Yaansoon Illustration. I am obsessed with it! It was done by freehand with water colour and ink, check a video here on how it was done or simply check out their blog for more designs that could suit your blog too! It’s so gorgeous and perfect for a lifestyle blog. I hope you like it as much as I do…let me know what you think guys pretty please!

Limited-Time Lifestyle Blog Branding Services on Etsy (Case Study - Lifestyle Blog, LexiLife logo & blog header) | By Yaansoon Illustration
Case-Study: LexiLife new blog branding by Yaansoon Illustration

As mentioned above, I wanted to create a unique logo that reflected the spirit of a feminine lifestyle blog that had a strong focus on health and fitness. To reflect that, I opted for a hand-illustrated look and feel – by creating botanical motifs using watercolours and ink. I then incorporated those elements into my final design.

You can see the three main branding products that I have created for LexiLife, in the case-study above.

I’d like to extend this service to other bloggers on WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr and other blogging platforms – who might be interested in revamping their blogs. And so I created three listings on Etsy for this purpose, and they will be available for a limited time only as my main focus for the time-being is on other types of illustration:

I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post, and looking forward to seeing you in my next one!

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Food Illustration: Artisanal Sourdough Bread the Italian Way

Food Illustration: Artisanal Sourdough Bread the Italian Way | By Yaansoon Illustration

One of the culinary pleasures of traditional Italian food comes in the form of sourdough bread. The first time my husband baked a loaf made from homemade and natural slow yeast (also called mother’s yeast), my taste buds were introduced to a whole new world of textures and flavours. I created this illustration with a minimalist feel to try and capture the essence of artisanal bread and what it stands for.

Food that isn’t over-processed and that keeps the integrity of its ingredients has a distinct taste, as if it belonged to a pristine corner of Heaven!

My husband wrote a post in Italian (with an English translation) for this blog sometime mid last year, to describe his experience in making his first-ever sourdough bread. I have learnt a lot from his approach to food, which is influenced by the fact he is an Italian with a strong interest in the traditional culinary arts of Italy.

Italians believe ingredients play a substantial role in the gastronomic experience of foodies. They cook to maximize the ingredients, not to dilute them under a heavy blanket of spices or harsh cooking methods. They also like fresh, raw, and natural ingredients over canned or processed foods.

I wanted to capture all of this in one illustration that could make the viewer sense the light and breezy essence of Italian artisanal bread, hence the illustration above.

My hope is that one day I will be able to create a whole set of illustrations for an Italian food cookbook maybe, so I can introduce more of this kind of imagery to my portfolio.

I do hope you liked today’s quick post, and I look forward to seeing you again soon in a new illustrated post!

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