We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Rahbany and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
One day I was at this fabric store getting fabric, and the woman at the counter asked me what I was working on. I told her I was making these large face masks to go on trees around the city for for a public exhibition, and she was so into the idea, but I minimized the opportunity at the time, saying the idea was okay, and she told me “You know, while you’re too busy doubting yourself, someone else is intimidated by your potential. That always stuck with me because I’ve always had self confidence issues, especially when it came to my work, and from that day I’ve always tried to actively own my strengths, my confidence, and the opportunities I’m blessed to receive. If you’re not confident in your work and if you’re not your strongest advocate, then why would anyone else be?
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My art has been a journey of self reflection, and it’s by no means a quick journey. I do self portrait photography, but I also create soft sculpture pillow art, in which I sew shapes and stuff them to be plush. The pillow aspect of the work brings childhood nostalgia, and it also brings a fun tactile sensory experience to art. There’s a sort of fantasy to it, which connects a lot with my photography. I like taking ideas that have a sense of play or fantasy, and bring them into reality. But whether it’s photography or through textiles or illustration, I will use any medium if it connects to what I’m trying to explore. I’ve been very proud over the years to be able to exhibit my work in galleries and shows around the country, and to have people respond to my work in such a positive way. Sometimes it can feel very vulnerable to create something, but at the end of the day I see it as success when someone has a strong reaction or feeling to my work. What I’ve learned along the way is that it takes a lot of time and energy to do this. You spend days and nights working sometimes, but my mentor has always said that art is a lifestyle, it’s something that you just want to keep doing, and I’ve found that to be true.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m so bad with plans, but if someone was visiting, first stop is ALWAYS the beach in Playa Vista or Topanga. Some of my favorite spots around the city would have to be Arts District downtown, Randy’s Donuts in Inglewood, Atwater Village, any KBBQ spot, or any late night taco truck around the city. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
A short list but not exclusive is Kristen, my Mom, Duane, Joey, Mariah, and all of my friends and family that continue to support me. Some of my ideas are a little wild sometimes, but my friends always show up and are my biggest champions, and they push me to be better. I also owe my practice to my art professors who taught me what it means to be an artist, including Haven Lin-Kirk, Ewa Wojciak, and Sherin Guirguis. I’m always inspired by the support and mentorship they gave and still would give, even after all these years.
Other: You can also check out my illustrations on Instagram at @mundane.so