Armenian-born Rubina Dyan spent her formative years in Barcelona, Spain where she cultivated her love of the arts. Currently splitting her time between Los Angeles and New York, Rubina balances her modeling career with her passion for art. I spoke with her via email to find out how her unusual childhood influenced her work and how she would describe her style to the uninitiated.

Tell us about your childhood.

My childhood was quite an adventurous one. My parents come from very humble beginnings, and they always strived to give my brother and I better lives. I was born in Armenia and brought up in Spain, and after my little brother was born, we moved to California, which was almost 6 years ago. I recently moved to New York, but I go back to Los Angeles for work and to visit my family quite often. I have been very fortunate throughout my life not only to be able to travel so much but also to be raised by such incredible and exemplary parents that made all those transitions as easy as possible on me and my brother.

How do you think your background influences your art?

I have been drawing and painting for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Barcelona—even before I found painting to be one of my deepest passions—I was constantly surrounded by the incredible art and architecture of the city. From Miró’s and Dalí’s surrealist and modern art to Gaudí’s fascinating gothic architecture, it was impossible for me not to get inspired to create as well. The color palette I am currently most inclined to use and the style I have developed throughout the years are clear examples of the influence my background has in my art, like Picasso’s deep and cold blues or vivid reds or the city’s mosaic-like architecture.

Do you think social media has helped showcase your work or made you more self-conscious?

I think social media has had a positive impact on my work because I have never really seen it as a way to get affirmation for the work I’m doing, but rather as a way to reach out to those who see it on a deeper level. I hope my pieces can somehow resonate with them or even bring out the inner artist in them.

What movements in particular do you identify with?

It’s quite hard to pinpoint a specific movement I could identify myself with as an artist. However, I have always been very fond of the following movements throughout the years: the impressionist era, which always stood out to me because of its purity, intensity, and richness; surrealism, which always fascinated me because of its imaginative way of expressing itself by analyzing the psyche; and abstract expressionism, which is mostly about expressing oneself through emotion.

Describe your artistic process.

It is as simple as keeping my eyes open at all times and carrying a sketchbook with me everywhere I go. There is always something that will catch my attention, reminding me that even the littlest things can be inspiring, and that I will hopefully develop into a new piece or style later.

What do you do when you’re in an artistic rut?

I recently got in a major artistic rut where I felt like I had a bunch of ideas I could develop into pieces but could not get myself to transfer them onto paper or canvas. So, after a few weeks of writer’s block or painter’s block, as one would say, I realized the best way to get myself out of that rut was by using all the pent-up inspiration on another artistic outlet, which is film photography. It definitely helped.

How has modeling and fashion influenced your work?

The fashion and modeling industry was always such a distant and unknown area for me. I never knew much about it or paid enough attention until I started drawing portraits or illustrations of the models in magazines I found around the house. When I began modeling myself, I found a lot of inspiring moments when traveling and getting to meet and work with incredibly talented artists and being around large sets, interesting backdrops, unique clothing, and intricate concepts…There is a lot that can be learned and absorbed from the fashion industry and applied and expressed in any other form of art.

How would you describe your work to the uninitiated?

Ah, that’s always a hard one!  My current style of work revolves mostly a blend of abstract expressionism and portrait work.

How does traveling affect the type of art you produce?

It is always easier for me to have all my supplies in hand, enough space, and good natural light…luckily enough, I mostly travel between California and New York, and I have little studios set up in both apartments. When it comes to the style of my work, it naturally tends to vary every time I paint. Traveling doesn’t usually affect it much.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

I usually paint while rapping to Nas.

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