Illustrator and art director, Noon Goons and Bephie

Ariel Roman studied print making at California College of the Arts, but customization, illustration, and designing clothes weren't about forging a career. They were just what you did.

“Growing up with parents who were involved in the punk scene, I remember learning about Vivienne Westwood when I was in middle school,” Roman, an art director, says. “All I wanted to do was save up my pennies and buy her bondage pants. But my mom was like, ‘Ariel, you're punk. You don't lust after expensive clothes. If you see something that you like, you make it.’”

This became a guiding force for Roman, who grew up in a creative household. Her mother was a dancer and choreographer; her grandmother was a seamstress; and her father, Cliff Roman, was a member of punk band The Weirdos. After graduating from college, Roman taught art, but eventually ventured into art direction and commercial work.

It was graphics she worked on with her husband, Yego Moravia, for a queer food magazine called Mouthfeel that caught the attention of Sam Jarou, Noon Goons’ creative director. “One day, Sam came to my house and was like, ‘Do you think Yego would want to design graphics?’ And while he was flipping through some of the stuff that he liked, I was like, ‘Well, what you’re pointing out is actually my work.’” 

“if you send an email and somebody doesn’t get back to you, send another one .” - Ariel roman

In 2017, Roman created a collection in partnership with her father and Noon Goons exclusively for Dover Street Market. An homage to her father and The Weirdos, the graphics also draw from Roman’s childhood, her father, and of course the punk scene.

She met Beth Gibbs, founder of Bephie and co-owner of Union, through mutual friends, and together they created a capsule collection that spoke to Black female empowerment. “Beth was very specific and came to me and was like, ‘I want to make something that talks about exchange of currency and wealth and value—how do we do this through graphics?’” says Roman. This resulted in statements like “I bank on myself,” “I am my own greatest asset,” and “I buy my own time” placed on earth-tone fabrics. 

Roman advises artists to always stay true to their aesthetic, regardless of the project or client. “If people are hitting you up to do a one-off [collaboration], then you really have to bring yourself and your own style, because they ended up coming to you for a reason,” says Roman. “But not everybody is able to really express what they’re looking for, so understanding how to build your own brief by interpreting what somebody is telling you can be challenging.”

At the same time, Roman suggests that women struggling to their voice be open to collaboration and to tap into their inner entrepreneurial instincts. “Whether or not it’s natural for you, it’s about self-confidence, saying yes, and getting your face in front of the person or brand you want to work with,” she says. “So if you send an email and somebody doesn’t get back to you, send another one.” —Kish Lal