Rose Nizami is an artist and illustrator who was born and raised in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. A few years ago, Nizami launched a project, in which anyone could email her a selfie, and in return, and she would draw them and send back a photo of their portrait – free of charge. Next week, she will be displaying all of those portraits at her first art show at Shervin’s Cafe and Wine Bar, located at 131 East 7th Street in the East Village, which will run from January 19 to January 26, 5pm-1am each night.
Nizami was kind enough to sit down with us and chat about her process, her upcoming show, and, of course, Bensonhurst.
1. Can you tell me a little about your background? How did you start drawing?
I always thought I was born an artist. From when I could remember, I always called myself an artist. My mother and aunt would always encourage me. I took some art classes through public school, but most of this was self-taught. I would sit in the library almost every day reading about my favorite artists, or comic books. When I wasn’t reading about them, I was making art. Growing up, people gave me the nickname, “The Artist Rose,” because it’s all I would talk about.
2. Who are most of the portraits of? What are you trying to convey with these portraits?
I don’t limit myself to New York. I’ve drawn people from all over the world, thanks to the internet. I believe that people should be more involved in the art movement, and I feel like I’m giving them the opportunity.
Most days I can be seen drawing in my small sketch pad on the train to work. I’ve made many friends who took interest in what I was doing. So although I may not know them, I do get to know people, and that makes me happy.
3. Why kind of response have people had to your work?
People mostly say, “Wow! Wait, you do this for FREE?!” I’ve had many requests not only to draw them, but to draw, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and friends for their birthdays, babies, etc. I had a bunch of requests for the holidays, which I proudly finished in time.
4. Congrats on your upcoming show! How did it come about?
My upcoming show – it was meant be.
5. What is your favorite thing about growing up in Bensonhurst?
My favorite thing about Bensonhurst are the cannoli.