Fashion Week Illustrated: NYFW SS 2020

Bringing back this series of posts, featuring sketches of my favourite runway looks from each Fashion Week. Kicking off the month is New York Fashion Week, and I’ve got my best sketches below. I played around with style a bit this season, trying to loosen up and keep things fresh and exciting.

Alice + Olivia

I always love the aesthetic of this brand. The silhouettes and fresh spring colours immediately drew me in. There were a ton of looks I saved from this collection but for times sake I had to narrow it down to three. I worked in a graphic style for this because I wanted to place the emphasis on the shapes.

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Carolina Herrera

Carolina Herrera always strikes me as so elegant. A perfect combination of classic and feminine. The large folds and beautiful floral prints is what caught my eye for these pieces. I picked style more reminiscent of my usual quick sketch aesthetic.

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Marc Jacobs

Always a popular show to sketch, this particular look I thought would be great to play around with textured brushes. I’m happy with the graphic yet soft result of this one.

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Cong Tri

This is a new designer for me, but the minute I saw this rainbow gown pop up in my feed I immediately knew I had to make a sketch. I originally tried this one out in watercolour a couple of times, but soon realized the colours alone don’t create a strong composition. I switched to a digital sketch to allow me to play around with various ways to add structure to the dress as well, and I’m so pleased with the result.

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Productivity Tips for Artists

I'm a bit obsessed with productivity. Contrary to the stereotypical image of artists and creatives who work late into the night filled with passion and inspiration, I thrive on routine, structure and checklists. The self discipline it takes to stick to things like this isn't easy when you're working for yourself so I wanted to share my favourite strategies to keeping me on task and working effectively.

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WAKE UP EARLY

I love being a morning person, it took some time to train myself to be, but I'm even waking up early on weekends now. What time I wake up sets my tone for the whole day. If I'm up early I feel like I've gotten a head start on the day, and want to keep up that productive feeling. When I sleep in, it's easy to find excuses to be slow or take it easy.

While rest time is important, productivity is often what makes me feel more relaxed at the end of the day. Ending a day feeling accomplished starts with getting up with a purpose. I also start out slowly, with my first tasks being things that are easy and sort of mindless, like uploading new prints. Once the coffee kicks in, I'll get to answering emails and messages. Personally if I knew my first task of the day was answering emails I'd probably never get out of bed!

PLAN

Everyone talks about the idea of being self-employed as “being your own boss”, but think about what a boss or manager's role actually is in the workplace. They're usually the ones delegating tasks, assigning deadlines and making sure you're staying on course. Being your own boss means doing this for yourself.

Personally, I like to keep a handwritten planner, one page is my weekly schedule, and the other is my longer term goals, projects and to-do lists. Seeing my long term projects in my schedule allows me to set daily and weekly tasks that need to be completed to hit my goals. Since being a freelancer means your workload changes often, it also allows me to fit in my high priority tasks, without forgetting the lower priority ones once my schedule opens up again. If things are written down it also means I don't have to juggle it all in my head, where I'm bound to feel stressed or overwhelmed and forget something.

Also having things written down clearly gives me motivation to check off those items, and allows me to see what I've accomplished at the end of the day or week so I can take a break knowing there's nothing important I forgot.

MAKE A ROUTINE

Having a routine not only helps with productivity but also mental health. It's important to establish the boundaries of work time and and rest time when you work from home. It's essential for me to know I have time allocated in my day to getting my work tasks done and also time for things I do for enjoyment or self care, like working out, reading, and sitting down for dinner with my partner.

I like having both daily and weekly routines, setting a certain time in the day to run errands or finish chores, and certain days in the week where I take my work out of my home and find a coffee shop to sketch in.

STOCK INSPIRATION


Doing what you love for a living sounds wonderful... and it is! But what most people don't realize is that most of the time this means “ doing what you love” when you don't want to be doing it. If making art is your profession, you will and should be drawing and painting every day. This means you can't afford to sit and wait for inspiration to strike, you need creativity on demand.

A habit I've been doing long before I even attended art school is keeping stock piles of inspiration and ideas. Creative plans can hit at any time, and often not at the ideal time when you're sitting at your desk with a blank piece of paper. For this I create resources of images, sketches and lists of ideas that I refer to when I need to get my creative juices flowing

Pinterest and bookmarked Instagram images are great visuals, but don't forget you can also use the more traditional sources like magazines and books. I also keep a notebook of lists of ideas for artwork, which has been incredibly effective at preventing artist's block.

The best tip is to keep a sketch book. When I'm really passionate about an idea, I often get restless and need to drop everything to make it. Keeping a sketchbook allows me to scribble things out quickly when the inspiration strikes so I don't take much time away from my priority tasks, but I have a visual reference to turn back to that will re-excite me when I have the time to make it.

STOP SECOND GUESSING

The internet is a never ending resource of strategies, tips and ideas for helping you run your creative business. This free access to helpful information is certainly amazing, but it can also contribute to some serious procrastination. You can spend hours reading articles and watching YouTube videos of people sharing how they achieved their success (realizing that this blog post is exactly that... oops! haha), and you'll start spinning in circles revising your strategy over and over again based on what new tips you're reading.

At some point you have to stop searching for the magic answer that will bring success and just literally sit down and do the work. It's a hard thing to master, because I know a day of working and drawing often leaves me feeling much less accomplished than if I read a bunch of articles that left me feeling motivated and inspired. But it's a false sense of accomplishment, inspiration is the fun part, the work is the hard part.

Success is based on those days where you're just slowly working away, one step at a time, and not based on some secret tip that leads to over night success. Research, read the articles, watch the videos, but at some point STOP. Try out the tips that you think will work for you, and don't revise your plan until at least a few months when you can really objectively see what is and isn't working. (If you stop reading this post here and get to work, I won't take it personally!)

COMMUNITY

Never underestimate the positive benefits of having supportive and inspiring people around you. When I'm feeling burnt out nothing brings me up more than going out for a drink with some girlfriends or a dinner date with hubby. I love talking about work with them. Sharing your plans, ideas and troubles with those who believe in you helps to keep away self doubt and allows you to reflect on what you have accomplished so far. I also find saying things out loud shifts your perspective and gets you out of those thought patterns you were stuck in.

Having people in your circle that are also fellow freelancers or creative professionals is also a huge help. They can relate to you on a professional level, and knowing you're not the only one experiencing the hardships of self employment is very comforting. It also gives you a boost of motivation when you share your latest creative idea and they share the same enthusiasm for it. Don't isolate yourself to working alone, community can make all the difference!


Productivity and discipline is different for everyone, try out other people's tips and then figure out what works best for you. Find a balance of pushing yourself hard and then allowing yourself time to rest and recover. Most of all be patient and consistent because nothing happens overnight.

Have any strategies for productivity you like to do? Share with me in the comments below!



My Favourite Art Supplies : Watercolour Painting

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Making an international move this year had me narrowing down my belongings to only what I could fit into a couple of suitcases. I've never been a hoarder, but as an artist it's inevitable that there's a lot of supplies that come with the job.

I began art school 12 years ago, and since then I attended 3 different schools as well as had employment in art supply stores, framing shops and teaching art. I've now been working professionally as an illustrator since 2014, so I definitely acquired a TON of supplies over the years.

Opening up all my art storage boxes to sort through what I would take with me allowed for me to see what supplies I have as my essentials for creating.

I work in a few different mediums and methods, so I'll be writing a few different blog posts on my favourite art supplies, but for this first one I thought we should start with Watercolour Painting. You can click the product titles or images to shop any of them, but you can also see my full list of recommended art supplies by clicking here.

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Dr. Ph. Martin's Radiant Concentrated Water Color

These are my favourite paints by a long shot. They are very highly pigmented liquid watercolours and the colour saturation is UNREAL.

Sadly I cannot find them here in Brazil, so I stocked up a ton before I moved, and will buy more when I'm back home in Canada visiting.

Because of the high pigment, these stain fast, so there's no fussing with them. It's really a one time shot for paint application. A solid idea of where you're going with your piece is essential. For a beginner water colourist they may prove difficult to use, so you might like to start with a watercolour pan (see below for my recommendations with this).

Also if you're buying these in store, some batches come with a lot of sediment on the bottom, so shake up the bottle and take a look at the contents inside before purchasing. Nobody likes dried paint bits messing up a good wash.

Ecoline Liquid Watercolour

These are another great option, they're very similiar to Dr. Ph. Martin's paints, and I can actually buy these ones here! WOO.

Some of the older versions of the product come without the eye dropper lid, so they lose points for that. But other than that, I'm a fan and they're a great alternative to my favourites.

**A note on both these paints. Due to the high pigmentation, they are really NOT lightfast. This means they will fade overtime, and especially if exposed to direct light. They're best used for illustration work that will be scanned and saved digitally as the originals will dull down. You can delay the fading by framing the pieces under UV protected glass. (A post on framing soon to come!)


White Nights Artists Watercolour

These are pan watercolours, so they come in dry “cakes” fitted individually and are activated with a wet brush. Personally I find them a little easier to control, and therefore better for beginners than the liquid watercolours. Also it's amazing for live sketching, but more on those supplies in another post.

These paints and both affordable and great quality, a combo that's hard to find when it comes to art supplies. I have the 24 colour set, but it comes in 12, 36 and 48 colour sets as well. These are traditional watercolours so they're not as highly pigmented as the previous paints I listed, but the colours are still very beautiful. Unlike the previous paints, these are light fast.

If you're new to watercolour I'd recommend a set like this, as poor quality paints can make it difficult to learn, but you also don't have to invest in expensive watercolours like Winsor & Newton.

These mix well with the liquid watercolours above too, so I often use both together.


BRUSHES

I have a variety of brushes I like to use, some synthetic and some natural hair, my favourites being my sable brushes, which unfortunately are quite expensive, so I'm linking a few different price points if you're not ready to invest in high end brushes yet.

Also, I use almost exclusively round brushes for painting in watercolour, as the shape holds water the best. Also make sure to have a variety of brush sizes to work with. Using tiny brushes for large areas will leave your paintings overworked and streaky with too many brush strokes. Using large brushes for small details will be clumsy. I like to say, use the biggest brush possible for the area.

Winsor & Newton Artists' Sable Brushes Series 7

These are really the best brushes around. They have a long history and are a familiar favourite among artists! The hair on these brushes is sable, so they maintain a perfect point and absorb a lot of water so you can keep a nice flow while you're working.

Unfortunately high quality brushes come with a higher price tag. However if you're ready for an investment, these brushes will last you forever with proper care. The set I have listed here is actually a great value.

Escoda: RESERVA Kolyinsky-Tajmyr

Another sable brush, these are also a beautiful brush to work with. I have a travel set linked below that will give you a great variety of sizes to get started with and also with short handles making them easy to bring on the go, and perfect for live sketching.

You can also find decent imitation sable brushes, but real sable is the best hair to paint with. You can also use squirrel hair for large washes, but personally I don't like my squirrel brush that much. I find a soft nylon brush can also be fine if you don't yet have a variety of sable brushes to pick from. Just stay away from any coarse hair brushes.

Speaking of nylon brushes, here’s a perfect set. They're a much lower price point than natural hair brushes and a great option to start out with. They tend to not last long, so make sure to take proper care of these brushes to get the most use out of them you can. A big tip is to never leave your brushes soaking in water as this can expand and then shrink the wooden handles and cause the brush head to fall off. Also always leave your brushes laying flat to dry.

I use hot press paper, because as an illustrator I scan my work to create digital files so cold press and rough press paper are too textured for me. Arches is a beautiful 100% cotton high quality paper. I use it for special projects only as it's much too expensive for me to be using on a daily basis as I go through a TON of paper. The least expensive way to buy this paper is in large sheets, but you can also get pads and blocks.


This is labelled as a Cold Press paper, but the opposite side of it I find smooth enough for illustration work. I started out using this paper for live sketching events, as I was going through so much paper, cost was key. I was impressed with the value of this paper, and have ended up using it quite often in studio as well because I've always got a huge stack of it and don't have to worry about wasting.



Fabriano Artistico

Fabriano also makes beautiful paper, this option is for a watercolour block instead of a pad. A watercolour block is basically a pad of pre stretched paper.

This means the paper is glued down on all sides, so it doesn't warp or buckle as much when painting, and dries completely flat. Good watercolour paper is cotton, so think of it like cotton clothes, the fibres shrink when they go from wet to dry. A watercolour block is great for anyone that uses heavy washes and a lot of wet-on-wet technique.

When you're done with your painting there's usually a corner or small strip on the side that has no glue on it. You can slip in a razor blade or small exacto knife and slide it along the edges to detach your paper from the block.

Palette

Last but not least, you'll need a paint palette for mixing. Plastic is used for watercolours, and personally for me, the bigger the better. I like this Darice palette as it also has a lot of flat space for mixing colours. I'm not a fan of palettes that only have the small round wells, however every artist has their preference. Palettes are white because watercolour paper is white, and therefore it's easiest to compare colours from palette to paper, so it’s best to replace your palette over time as it gets stained.



Other than that, just some paper towel and a water cup, and that's a wrap on my favourite watercolour supplies! Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below or share your favourites with me!

Life in Brazil Six Months In

It's now been nearly 6 months since my relocation from my home in Toronto, Canada to beautiful Brazil, where I am now living in downtown São Paulo with my Brazilian partner. Setting up a new life here has so far been going much smoother than expected, however I can feel my ambitious (…anxious?) side wishing things would get done faster. Immigration, moving my business, and setting up a new household from scratch is considerably more time consuming than I thought.

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I have nearly completed the process of getting a permanent visa to live and work here, and we have moved into a beautiful new apartment, right downtown, off the famous Paulista Avenue. I love our new life and neighbourhood, it's an affluent area so the security is quite comforting, and we enjoy living close to so many amazing restaurants and cultural activities. Plus, I have an entire room to dedicate as my home studio! My Portuguese is improving quickly, I work on it everyday using Duolingo, grammar books and reading novels. I also get regular practice speaking in public and with friends. My latest accomplishment is being able to watch the news and understand it. I remember my first time visiting it all sounded like nonsense, but now I'm quite proud that I can keep up.

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My day-to-day routine is starting to look much like it did back in Canada. I love being able to walk to the gym, the grocery store, the art supply store (we didn't have a good one back in the city we lived in prior to moving!!) and a ton of shopping. Furnishing the apartment has been a bit slow for my liking, partly for my lack of knowledge at first of where to buy things and lengthy delivery times, and partly because we're combining decor styles (my colourful, bright tastes vs my partner who thinks everything should be grey or black...*eye roll*). However, restarting a home gives me the unique opportunity to use my artwork in new ways, so I'm slowly designing various new home items for us, pillows, towels, rugs etc, which is a great way for me to play around with pattern design. Not to mention, all the blank walls I now have! I'm contemplating picking up my oil paints again and doing some large pieces for us on canvas. I'll share some sketches of ideas soon.

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As for work, I've been working remotely on commissions since I've arrived, which has thankfully been steady. Shout out to my awesome Canadian clients! I do have materials prepared to send out to new potential clients here because, I never thought I'd say this but, I miss live sketching! I was doing it so often before that I grew to really enjoy it, it's sort of like being paid to take a life drawing class. Not to mention, getting out of the studio and working amongst people is refreshing. I'm feeling positive about reestablishing myself here, as the fashion industry in São Paulo is much larger than in Toronto, and the culture is quite receptive of art in general. Unlike getting my career started before, I also now have a wealth of experience under my belt, so once my visa is sorted out I'm eager to get things moving with a new marketing plan I've made

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I'm also looking forward to having my studio completely set up at home. I'm writing this as I'm still working from the floor of my new space...furniture deliveries take forever. Most excitingly we've been planning to get a puppy soon, so I'll have a little studio buddy to spend my days with!


Overall, things feel quiet and calm these past few months, even though it's been so much change. I looked forward to this time for months before I moved, where I didn't have the pressure of having to work for financial gain, and could take some time to be creative and redirect my career to where I wanted it to go. It's been a productive six months and I feel like I'm in a good work flow. Relocating has been a huge inspiration and a much needed change. I find creativity comes best from change and challenges, so I suppose it's not surprising that I'm in a great headspace right now. I'm excited for what's to come!... and to be a dog mom :D

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2018 Year in Review

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I'm writing this blog post a bit late since I've been spending my holidays in Brazil, a place that I'm excited to announce will be my new home as of March 2019! An exciting and life changing move for me, that I will elaborate on in another blog post in the coming months.

2018 was another year of growth for both my artwork and my business. I had the pleasure of working with some of my dream brands including Tiffany & Co., Chloé and Coach. I was also lucky enough to have a few travel opportunities for live sketching, including Montréal, Chicago twice, Florida and most enjoyably, Hawaii!

Additionally, I saw a big increase with sketching at weddings this year, thanks to generously being given a table at the Square One Bridal Market in January. I had the pleasure of sketching at numerous weddings and showers, keeping me extra busy this summer! Following that trend, custom couple portraits for weddings gifts, invitations and thank you cards were very popular with my commission work. I ended off the year with another spread in Wedding Bells Magazine, a wonderful client whom I love to work with!

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On a more personal note concerning my artwork, this past year I've found a wealth of inspiration and new plans. Feeling like I started the year from a secure and confident place in my career, I wanted to start thinking about the future. The potential for an international move was looking likely, something my boyfriend and I have been discussing for some time. I knew this would mean relocating my business, something that is a risk and I had many doubts about. I questioned if it was worth giving up so much of what I had worked so long and hard to build.

When the time came to make the decision, that it would be Brazil which we would call home for the next year or two, I put aside the doubts and decided this would be a challenge I'm happy to accept. What better test of myself as an artist and entrepreneur than to take all the experience and skills I've developed thus far and launch myself again in a new country.

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Analyzing it more, much of the work I do can be done remotely. A perk of being an illustrator in this digital age. The only sacrifice I'm making is giving up live sketching...for now! I hope to eventually start this again here, I've been studying Portuguese with great dedication and am confident I'll be comfortable enough to converse with clients and event planners when the work begins to come.

Since a move to Brazil is only temporary (both myself and my boyfriend are fortunate enough to hold dual citizenships, so Europe, the US and of course Canada are all options for the future) I knew it would be wise to seek more work that could be done remotely as well as passive income. This was the majority of what I spent my year planning and working at. A portfolio expansion beyond just fashion as a subject is something I knew would attract more commission opportunities. I'm excited to have it nearly complete and ready to launch soon! The process has been incredibly satisfying as an artist. It's opened up my mind to so many sources of inspiration that I've had to start keeping a list of new ideas so as not to forget anything.

For passive income, I've set myself up on a few print on demand websites such as Casetify, Society 6 and Red Bubble (links in my website shop). I've been working away at building a large collection of prints, phone cases, apparel and home decor featuring my work, all of which I can keep running while traveling (unlike my site shop and Etsy). It's A LOT of work to establish yourself and get noticed on these sites, but now that it's catching on, I feel the work has been well worth it.

2018 has been a busy behind-the-scenes year for me. I leave it feeling accomplished and proud of the work I've put in because I am now entering 2019 with no doubts about this move. It is absolutely the right choice for me. I've been feeling restless in Toronto for the past few months, and returning for a third time to Brazil to spend the holidays has made it begin to feel like home. I will be returning to Toronto for a month for a few jobs, to pack up and say goodbye to family and friends and then I'm off! I am eager and ready for life as an expat and all the new inspiration it will bring!

Happy New Year to all my wonderful followers and clients! 2019 is going to be BIG!

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How To Live Sketch: Completing a Drawing in Five Minutes or Less

The one technique I get the most questions about is my live sketching. A live sketch is a quick gestural study done on site in just a few minutes.

 

Examples of my live skeches

Examples of my live skeches

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Live sketching is very trendy in the fashion world right now, it makes up a good part of my income as an artist, and opportunities for it are everywhere. I've sketched at fashion shows, retail events, charity galas, weddings, showers, and corporate parties. It's a fantastic way to be able to work for some big industry names as well as market yourself as an artist.

With that being said, the idea of sketching so quickly for an audience can be intimidating so I'd like to share with you what my process is and how I learned my technique.

First and foremost, you have to understand that live sketching is a skill that takes A LOT of practice. I have done thousands of drawings over the years, and continue to practice regularly.

I was first introduced to the technique of quick sketches 10 years ago when I started studying Fine Art and Concept Art at an animation school. I was taking 2-3 life drawing classes a week, and one of the exercises was 1 minute gesture drawings.

With a piece of charcoal and a large pad of newsprint, the model would pose and you would have 1 minute to sketch the pose before the model would change poses. You'd do about 25 in a row, one after the other. One class would consist of maybe doing 50 -75 of these quick sketches (along with other exercises in between) so you could imagine how quickly you were working.

Examples of some of my student gesture drawings.

Examples of some of my student gesture drawings.

About 95% of the sketches looked like a pile of scribbles, but every now and then you'd hit a gem, a piece that was dynamic and strong, where you expressed so much movement and weight with such little line work.

To learn about gesture drawing I recommend the book The Natural Way to Draw by Nicolaides. The second exercise in the first section is all about gesture drawing. It's quite an old book so the language is a bit dry, but the exercises are wonderful for developing yourself as an artist.

Click photos to purchase book

Click photos to purchase book

If you don't have access to life drawing classes, you can also do gesture drawing in public. I used to take my sketchbook with me to coffee shops, or on public transit and sketch the people sitting around. My first year of school I filled ten 8.5”x11” sketchbooks, front to back with multiple sketches per page, all squeezed in. Most of them were absolutely terrible, but it didn't matter. Each scribbly sketch was teaching me something, and slowly but surely I began to improve.

The second exercise that influenced my live sketching was when I started at my second art school, where I was learning classical 19th century drawing and painting. The life drawing classes in this school were nearly the complete opposite to what I was doing in animation school, which in hindsight was a wonderful learning opportunity for me.

Most of the drawings were sustained poses, a model would sit for you over the course of 3 months, and you would slowly build up a very realistic representation. Despite most of my work from this period being quite polished, the beginning of any drawing always started the same. You were to conceptualize your subject and simplify it into 10-12 lines. No matter how complex it seemed, you had to find a way to break it down. These drawings were referred to as constructs.

Examples of my construct drawings

Examples of my construct drawings

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The book I recommend for exploring this exercise further is Classical Drawing Atelier by Juliette Aristides. It's an absolutely beautiful book, and is very similar to the curriculum of my school at the time. It has a great chapter on line, and the step-by-step exercises at the end show examples of the initial simplified construct drawing.

 

Click photos to purchase book

Click photos to purchase book

So between both of those exercises, practicing them over and over again for a few years I began to develop the two essential skills needed (in my opinion) for live sketching, speed and conceptualizing.

To bring together both these exercises I'll give you a step-by-step guide on how I do my sketches now, using my iPad, Apple Pencil, and the app Procreate.

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Since I don't have a model at the moment, I'm going to demonstrate with a photograph. Working from photographs is typical with commissioned work, and can be great for practice, but working from life is still something that should be done regularily. 

 

 

 

 

Photo reference is from Leo Faria , a Brazilian fashion photographer, and one my favourite streetstyle photographers!

Step 1: An initial light sketch, simple and fluid. I use a combination of the construct drawings for simplifying, and the gesture drawings for the line movement.

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Step 2: Begin to block in colours, work quickly capturing the general shape of things. Don't worry about details.

Step 3: Finish blocking in colours. A tip for working quickly is to use the biggest brush tip possible for the space, tiny brushes waste time and make a mess. Especially if you're working in watercolour, the less brush strokes you use the better if you want to avoid it looking muddy.

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Step 4:  Add some outlines to bring dimension to the piece.  I am very selective on where I outline, as too much can flatten the drawing.  My choices of line placement at this point are intuitive, the only way to really get good at this is to practice over and over. Experiment a bit, keeping in mind things like how light falls on objects, drapery and general composition.  If you're able to work digitally you can experiment a bit with line placement by working on a separate layers and trying a few different compositions.

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Step 5: Add in a few black lines for added gesture. Use these sparingly or you will lose the dynamic quality of the piece.

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Step 6: Optional. Time provided I add in a simple background to add some colour to the piece.  Sometimes the sketch is strong enough on its own that I don't want to add a background, but it's something you can assess at the time.

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And there we have it! A chic, simple, gestural sketch. The time for this sketch was about 4 minutes.

Professionally I've been live sketching since 2014, and my style and technique continues to evolve with more and more practice. My best advice I have for live sketching is to see it as a drawing exercise rather than a piece of art. If you are too precious with your work you will freeze up.

Remember when live sketching for an audience, you are essentially giving away little pieces of your sketchbook (something I hardly ever show to anyone) so you are not going to love every piece you do. Most of them will not be perfect. In fact some of my past sketches I see make me cringe. But really, who cares?

It takes a ton of confidence to sketch this fast for an audience and have everything you produce shown. Not to mention people often looking over your shoulder watching your every move. Fortunately you are your own worst critic, so those who receive a live sketch from you are usually SO thrilled with the result that your self-doubt will lessen with each one. Just keep going!

Absolutely no artist produces a perfect drawing every single time, so let go of your ego, and sink into the process. Drawing is a skill you learn with practice, it's not a gift you are born with. I can say from experience that with time and practice I've become much less nervous and have really fallen in love with live sketching.

As you improve, play around with different mediums. Every artist has a different preference. I've worked in pencil, pen, charcoal, conte, markers, ink and even crayons. My preferred choices now are watercolour and digital (iPad Pro and Apple Pencil using the Procreate app).

Ask any questions and let me know if you have any techniques for live sketching or gesture drawing in the comments below!

 

Red Carpet: Academy Awards 2018

A little late in getting this up since it's been a busy work month! However I can never pass up an opportunity to sketch Haute Couture, so I found myself last Sunday searching through photos from the Oscars Red Carpet for anything that would catch my eye.  Happy to have found a couple of my more recently favourite designers as well as some old classics.

 

Margot Robbie - Chanel

I loved this Chanel Couture show. Seeing the dress worn outside of the show setting, it was instantly recognizable.  A beautiful example of a white gown that doesn't go too bridal.

 

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Taraji P. Henson - Vera Wang

A very flattering dress, that's both romantic and sexy.  It has a great shape and movement to it, the intricate silhouette is balanced with the simple black colour.

 

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Gal Gadot - Givenchy

Always inspired by 20's silhouettes and glittering dresses!

 

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Zendaya - Giambattista Valli

As you may know, this one of my favourite couture designers. Loved the rich brown colour, it's actually a great choice for a red carpet. In the runway show photos I found the gown looked much darker, however, here the reflected light of the red carpet gave the colour beautiful dimension.

 

 

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Samara Weaving - Schiaparelli

Another one of my favourite couture designers! (Because who doesn't love a good lobster dress?)  This colour palette was instantly recognizable to me as Schiaparelli. I love the hidden pops of colour and the modern take on a Grecian dress.

 

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Fashion Week Illustrated: PFW

Finishing up my Fashion Week Illustrated series with Paris, the city of elegant and chic fashion.  I most look forward the Chanel show here, they are my favourite to watch, the effort and attention to detail put into the overall theme makes them so immersive.

 

Alexander McQueen

I loved the natural references throughout the collection, especially the butterfly references, because it's so reminiscent of earlier McQueen collections.  I sketched a beautiful fringed dress. Really long fringe dresses like this have been showing up for a few seasons now, but I'm happy to see they're still around because the movement of them makes for great sketches.

 

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Valentino

I have been all about Valentino lately, the flow of colour throughout the collections is so beautifully done.  The oversized florals really caught my eye this season.

 

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Giambattista Valli

The designer described this collection as a mix of 70's and global references, so there was certainly a lot of options to work from.  I ended up going with a short pink floral dress because it had the romantic aesthetic that I always look for with Giambattista Valli, which is also one my favourite Haute Couture designers.

 

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Mulberry

This is actually a British brand, but they presented in Paris so they've ended up in this post.  Although the look of this was very London Fashion Week, basically over-the-top tea party.  I really liked the classic British florals in the bold colours of these dresses, plus a matching hat!

 

 

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Dries Van Noten

Not a surprise that I'd choose this one. Another designer I can depend on for a mix of inspiring prints and colours. This one had to be done in a 3 look sketch.  I don't think I've ever loved purple and yellow/green together, but my mind has been changed!

 

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Givenchy

This collection had a ton of beautiful black and white pieces that I absolutely loved the shapes of, so much so I wanted to save them for some pieces in the future.  I chose to sketch something completely different, this one incorporating a mix of textures, leather, fur contrasted with the loose flowing pant.  I also don't often choose animal print to work with, but I thought it was well done for this look.

 

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Chanel

Saving the best for last!  You can't argue that Chanel shows are some of the most creative, the latest fall themed one is no exception.  It was really difficult to narrow it down, but this one particular look felt so Chanel-chic and the beautiful mixes of texture and the colour palette was perfectly on theme.

 

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Fashion Week Illustrated: MFW

Milan Fashion Week is always the one I most look forward to. Mostly because of Dolce & Gabbana, which is my all time favourite line to sketch.  In my opinion, many Italian designers make strong statements that are still very stylish, it's like a sexy version of whimsical fashion.

Dolce & Gabbana

Might as well start off with my favourite! I'd sketch the whole collection if I could. I'm obsessed with the Dolce aesthetic.  It's dramatic, luxurious, and boldly feminine. If I could first own, and then have an occasion to wear a D&G gold crown, it would complete my life. Narrowing down exactly what to sketch was hard, but I opted for a red colour palette, with a ton of accessories of course.

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Fendi

Overall the silhouette was box-like for this one with a lot of strong shoulders.  The square shape was echoed in some of the pieces with prints, which I really liked, so I chose a fringed piece with a metallic diamond pattern.

 

 

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Emilio Pucci

I just love Pucci prints! That's always what draws me to sketch this designer.

 

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Etro

This collection had a beautiful earthy palette with an eclectic mix of prints. The prints were culturally very different, so together it had a great global/bohemian vibe. I think the mixing of prints was so successful because of the more subdued colours.

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Missoni

This reminded me a lot of the Etro show, take out the print variety and add in some colour. I especially liked the asymmetrical colour blocking of this piece.

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Alberta Ferreti

This was a very wearable glamour collection.  I was really drawn to the metallic plaid prints, especially the gold on the purple in this particular look. 

 

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Giorgio Armani

I absolutely loved the beautiful vibrant jewel tones in some of the pieces.  The saturation was so beautiful I decided halfway through the sketch to change to a dark background to exaggerate it. Giorgio Armani usually has some great colour combinations that I'm drawn to.

 

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That's it for Milan! Sadly I was a little disappointed in the Gucci show.  It was a popular one to sketch on social media, but for me it just didn't click.  I couldn't find anything that really caught my eye, maybe the styling was too gimmicky for my taste.  I don't often like art (fashion in this case) that uses a shock value to get your attention, it seems carelessly thought out. Comment below if you agree or disagree, or have any thoughts on the collections above. I'll be posting Paris sketches later this week.

Fashion Week Illustrated: LFW

London Fashion Week, the second in my Fashion Week Illustrated series! London can always be depended on to keep things interesting, innovative and just down right funky.  It tends to have a rebellious cool-factor compared to the other cities.  Even when fashion was trending towards minimalism, it has always been a go-to for me for some serious inspiration.

Burberry

I'm sure everyone who hears Burberry immediately thinks of the iconic plaid print and rain coats, I still do myself. But, have you ever seen a Burberry runway show?  They take the classic British style add on a level of eccentricity that is just that much better. I opted for a poncho and maxi skirt look, the bright earth-tones against the grey lavender skirt was a colour combination I had never seen but can't stop thinking about now. 

 

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Temperley London

One of my favourite collections at LFW, I loved the military-inspired jackets and jumpsuits from Temperley London this season.  Another unlikely colour combination, the gold and bright magenta badges adorning the army green fabric really caught my eye.

 

 

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Mary Katrantzou

Always an incredible source of inspiration for prints, the collection this year was called "Interior Lives" and makes a lot of creative references to various classic interior design shapes and patterns.  I especially liked this tapestry inspired piece. 

 

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Delpozo

Anyone who knows me knows that everything Delpozo is AMAZING in my mind. The designer, Josef Font, to me is a genius with shape and silhouette and colour.  There is nothing like the Delpozo aesthetic. Sketching the show backstage last year was a surreal experience, so I was excited to see a new collection. As always, it has an effortless complexity to it that is so clean and impactful. 

 

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Peter Pilotto

Psychadelic prints on silk is always a win in my opinion.  I'm keeping an eye on this designer for future collections.

 

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Erdem

What drew me to this collection was the sheer polka dot fabric used throughout.  I've been playing around with a new black and white series with this fabric, so I was pleasantly surprised to find a whole new source of reference for it from the latest Erdem collection.  I chose this look to sketch because I can never resist a good mask/veil to add in some runway drama.

 

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That's a wrap for London, but check back soon for Milan!

Fashion Week Illustrated: NYFW

I have to start off with a confession, for the first time in four years, I am not live sketching any fashion weeks this season!  I used to sketch anything I could get into and hustle for invites, but this season I just found my interests were elsewhere. I still love live sketching runway shows, but I feel an itch to diversify myself creatively and start expanding into other areas (street style, print design, packaging design etc.). Also generally I'm just busier work-wise, (which is great as a freelancer) but sadly paid work has to trump passion projects, which fashion weeks have always been for me. 

That being said, everyone needs a break from client work, so I still find myself wanting to sketch runway looks in my free time. I may not be physically there, but thankfully with social media I've got more than enough reference to work off of. Sketching from photographs is a lot different than live, mostly just because I take more time.  I take about 10-15 minutes to do these, instead of less than 5.  The extra time allows me to be more careful with the choices I make, from what looks I want to draw, to what brushes I want to use, or how I want to lay out my composition.  The lack of spontaneity and instinctual choices is made up for by a more refined process.  I still want to keep these sketches with a gestural quality and a time constraint, but I've found that the occasional switch in my process keeps me fresh and challenged.  I like to avoid getting into habits and formulas with my work if I can, nothing makes me lose motivation more than making things too automatic.  I'm a very logical thinker and I approach my art the same way, each piece is a new puzzle to think through. Thoughtfully done art is always more successful in my opinion.

So I decided to start a series of blog posts, one covering each of the 4 major fashion weeks, New York, London, Milan and Paris, and my picks for what collections I enjoyed the most, accompanied by sketches. I like to think of this as an illustrator's perspective to fashion because my taste definitely bends towards what I think makes good art primarily, fashion is second. Fashion month is about to wrap up in another week, but I'm posting the sketches from each week separately over the next couple of weeks so make sure to come back to check out the rest.

So here we have my take on New York Fashion Week:

Anna Sui

This is always a go-to pick for me. I love this designer every season, it's consistently bright and bohemian, and never goes too off brand by being trendy. I picked the final look in the show to sketch, it's very feminine, a beautiful colour palette, has a sort of metallic mint base to it. Remember when mint was everywhere a few years ago and then completely died out? I feel I haven't seen it much recently, so looks like enough time has passed (at least for me) to appreciate it again.  My favourite colour tends to be one I haven't seen in awhile (some form of art specific A.D.D.?), so at least for the 10 minutes I spent on this, I'm all about mint.

 

 

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Tory Burch

This was definitely a lot more of a wearable collection then a lot of what's coming out lately. Fashion has gone from minimal to seriously "extra", that sometimes it's the more elegant, simpler pieces that stand out to me. This look specifically stood out as an example, it's current with it's large print and fur jacket but doesn't cross the line into ugly-pretty territory. I like little variety in my subject matter, not everything needs to be a giant statement.

 

 

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Jeremy Scott

Here's where things just get over the top, which is to be expected from Jeremy Scott. But, if someone makes a sci-fi themed collection, obviously you sketch it.  

 

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Saks Pott

This whole collection is adorable! Candy colours, bright prints and feminine silhouettes, it's a playful take on classic looks. I debated sketching a few of the looks, but opted to save them for potential watercolour pieces at a later date. 

 

 

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Oscar de la Renta

I live sketched Oscar de la Renta gowns a few years ago at a trunk show, and it gave me such a heightened appreciation for the brand. They pieces are so well crafted and thought out. There were a lot of looks I could have picked out, but I opted for a pink one because apparently that's what I'm doing for all these recent sketches (see above). I suppose I haven't been mixing things up as much as I thought, but a colour coordinated Instagram feed is never a bad thing. 

 

 

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Prabal Gurung

Loved this collection as an ensemble together.  The colour palette is beautiful, especially the red and purple tones.  I wanted to sketch more than one look for this show because I felt it really worked best as a whole. Definitely one of my favourite sketches so far, the draping of the garments made for a lot of movement in the sketch.

 

 

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Bottega Veneta

Another choice based on colour, and one I couldn't sketch only one of.  Seeing as it is the Fall Collections coming out, the jewel tones, satin and velvet felt so appropriate. Also the variety in textures allowed for me to play around with a few different brushes on these ones.

 

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Rosie Assoluin

This was a particularly fun collection, the unifying factor seemed to be volume and not colour, which made for a large variety of unique pieces to pick from.  I loved the playful colours of this look though, combined with a sophisticated silhouette. This is one of my favourite of all the sketches I've done this season, also was one of the quickest, taking around 7 minutes.

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Marc Jacobs

And finally, Marc Jacobs. Which upon first glance of the collection, I thought it was awful. Way too much of a Darkwing Duck reference with the big black hats. However, while not a wearable collection in my books, when seen as a whole, I found it had a strange beauty.  The voluminous coats and solid colours made for an interesting composition when juxtaposed against each other. It made for a cool drawing that ventures off of my usual feminine aesthetic.

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Let me know in the comments if you think there's any sketch-worthy collections I missed! Stay tuned for London Fashion Week sketches next.

Red Carpet: Golden Globes 2018

Red Carpet sketching is the next best thing after sketching fashion shows. While my favourite red carpet looks are usually from the MET Gala in May, the Golden Globes this year had some beautiful pieces also with a powerful message behind them.  

Black dresses being the only colour this year to support the Time’s Up movement presents a fun creative challenge for an artist like me who usually focuses on colour first.  Not being able to rely on elements of strong colour or vibrant prints, the dresses this year had me focused more on silhouette and material.  

In an effort to try and represent the different weights of the fabric I experimented a lot with textured brushes, something I rarely do.  I sketch on my iPad with the app Procreate, and usually stick to the same 4 or 5 brushes. But, Procreate offers so many more that I've never found much use for.  Some are organic textures, some shapes with hard lines, and then just some strange things, like gemstones, which acts like a stamp, stamping crystal shaped rocks all over your canvas. A lot of them seemed very literal, until I started layering them and using them in a way that they lose their original obvious shape. To my surprise the gemstone brush ended up being really useful for one piece!  

I'm often find that limitations can produce amazing results because they force you to be more creative.  Experimenting with the brushes has also been a great asset to add to my quick sketching routine.  It's an efficient way to portray the movement of the garments and brings an experience to the viewer that a photo can't represent.  I was starting to be unhappy with a lot of my digital pieces lately because they seemed to flat and static, but now I'm excited to incorporate this new technique in to my work.  I'm so pleased with the results of these new pieces, and am hoping to find the time soon to do a lot more digital pieces!

 

 

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First choice to sketch was Kate Hudson in Valentino.  This was probably a more typical choice for me, being drawn to the pattern and contrast between the sheer and the hard lines.  I hadn't really experimented with the brushes yet for this one, relying more on the shapes and the contrast of her blonde hair against the dark black on the dress.

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Kendall Jenner in Giambattista Valli, one of my favourite designers. Also here it is! The gem stone brush. If you look closely around her foot you can probably see it, but this one was the break through in my brush choices.  The first version looked way too flat, so I flipped back to a few sketches I had done of gowns over the holidays where I was playing around with the brushes, and decided I should push even further and use something I would never normally have.  The lightness of the fabric combined with how dense it is in the feathered areas was proving challenging, but the transparency of the brush combined with the hard outline solved the problem surprisingly easy.  This one took less than half the time to execute as the first version, and I'm much more satisfied with the result.

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Alison Brie in Vasslis Zoulias. This look to me is perfect.  Classic yet modern, simple, feminine and unique still with the incorporation of the pant underneath.  Vassals Zoulias is a Greek designer who is new to me, but a quick look over at his Instagram had me following immediately, because he creates such beautiful pieces.  I also got a repost of this sketch on his account, a nice surprise and the best compliment!  Also experimenting with a textured dry brush here, I wanted it to maintain a spontaneous gestural look to it.  Also since there wasn't any sheer elements like the last two pieces, the contrast of the white background against the flat black seemed too distracting from the dress so I added in the grey to tone it down.

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Millie Bobby Brown in Calvin Klein.  This I think is my favourite sketch of the night, I'm really happy with how the ruffled elements turned out and that there's a simplicity still to the piece.  I started following Millie on Instagram only about a month ago because I had no idea how stylish she was!  I find her wardrobe incredibly sophsiticated for a 13 year old, and yet still age appropriate. There's a bit of an androgyny to her that I love, and her styling comes across both cute and mature at the same time.  

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Zoe Kravitz in Saint Laurent.  So this one maybe I resorted back to my old ways and was instantly drawn to colour.  The emerald earring next to the red lip immediately caught my eye. Anytime you can make red and green work without going "Christmas" is so refreshing visually because it's uncommon.  It also works perfectly with the simple, elegant silhouette of the dress.  Here I didn't play with texture and opted just for a simple flat black to keep the simplicity of shape.  Again, a grey background to not distract, because that contrast of the green and red is everything!

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Finally, Jessica Biel in Dior.  The movment in the dress is what drew me to this one.  I love the classic silhouette mixed in with a bit of asymmetry.  It's another example to me of a simultaneously classic and modern gown. Similar to the Alison Brie sketch, I used a dry brush texture, but a bit more transparency with this one to keep it reading as a light fabric.  

 

Overall I'm really happy with having such success with an all black palette.  It has me looking forward to sketching Oscars looks, but also doing some new black and white pieces in watercolour to see if I can translate some of these new ideas into a different medium.

2017 Year in Review

New Year's is my favourite time of year. Which sounds strange, but I'm a little nerdy and love the idea of a party celebrating getting back to routine! December is my busiest month of the year, this year especially, my schedule was completely filled with live sketch events and commission work, I usually finish off exhausted, adrenaline filled and ready for some time off. 

However, those who know me well know that the exhaustion only lasts for a couple of days before boredom sets in quickly and I'm eager to get back to work. I'm a bit of a workaholic... but I genuinely love the feeling of creating. Nothing makes me happier than the process of my work so too much time off and I get restless. I believe the key to me feeling happy and fulfilled is constant growth.  I'm not a complacent person, I'm at my best when I have a goal and something to do.

Although, everyone needs a rest, myself included, so to keep my spirits up during this time and avoid those dark freelancer/artist thoughts that creep in telling you that you haven't accomplished enough, I wanted to reflect on how far I've come this past year.  I think gratitude for what has already come my helps me maintain a positive perspective that will help my maintain this career path long term. 

As you would always hope for your career, this past year was the biggest one yet. Working chronologically, the first big highlight was at New York Fashion Week in February and getting to sketch backstage at Delpozo.  Delpozo is absolutely one of my favourite designers. I admire  Josep Font's creativity immensely, the colour, shapes and patterns he uses are balanced so perfectly. To be able to meet him and sketch his work so closely is something I'll never forget. 

 

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Of course one of the most exciting things this year was the launch of my Jergens Limited Edition Bottle Designs.  This was something that I had been working on for over a year and was such a surreal experience to see the bottles in stores.  The commission was definitely an inspiration for me to expand my work into other directions, I'm planning on getting into pattern design in addition to my illustration work this coming year.

 

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Finally, my last huge highlight of 2017 was sketching at São Paulo Fashion Week.  I love live sketching fashion shows, but to be able to do it in Brazil, where the fashion is so colourful and bold made the experience that much better.  I'll be back in São Paulo a couple of times in 2018 so if I don't make it in time for Fashion Week again I'll definitely be on the look out for street style. 

 

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These of course are just the big moments, but 2017 also marked a lot of growth in my work.  New clients and opportunities, but also new directions for me to take my work.   I'm closing out this year with what feels like an endless supply of inspiration and ideas. The goal for 2018 is to find this time to execute them all... not a bad problem to have!  

Happy New Year!!

Jergens 100th Anniversary Bottle Designs

This summer marked the release of my collaboration with Jergens Lotion, to celebrate their 100th Anniversary! They approached me early last year with the project, and I was thrilled to take it on. This would be my first opportunity to design artwork for packaging, something I was curious to explore.  Fast forward to now, and seeing my bottles on the shelves in drug stores is incredibly exciting every time.

The idea behind these designs was to take the fluid watercolours and vibrant colour palettes of my fashion work and translate it into print.  I wanted to keep my signature style, without using figures or fashion elements, two things that are normally a huge part of my work.   

Here's the final four designs that are available in Canada

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If you haven't already, you can read my full interview about the collection here

The experience from this has sparked an interest for me to further explore pattern and print creation using my watercolour aesthetic.  I'll be spending the next few months creating my first collection of textile prints so stay tuned!

SPFW N°44

Last month I had the amazing opportunity to live sketch at São Paulo Fashion Week. It was a lucky coincidence while planning a personal trip to Brazil that it was happening while I was there, so I knew I had to make the effort to at least get one day to sketch!

São Paulo Fashion Week is considered the fifth largest fashion week in the world, after New York, London, Milan and Paris.  I've just begun exploring the Brazilian fashion industry and the local designers there, but so far it has proven to be a perfect source of inspiration for me. I find the design to be full of colour, print and femininity. I've never been a huge fan of androgenous or minimalistic trends so you can imagine my excitement in discovering this Brazilian aesthetic.

I attended three shows; ViX Paula Hermanny, Lilly Sarti, and Fabiana Milazzo.  Click the images to open my SPFW sketches gallery.

ViX Paula Hermanny was my first show, also my first time sketching swimwear, which felt very appropriate for my Brazilian experience.  I enjoyed swim more then I expected, it gives a feeling for how the pieces work with the body. There was a certain dynamic quality to the presentation that I don't get from other shows. There's also great contrast between the fitted swimsuit and the lightness of the coverups, the movement was mesmerizing.  Here's the sketches from the show;

 

My next show was Lilly Sarti, a sportswear brand.  The show had a casual, relaxed, 70's vibe, but still chic.  They used a great orange in a few pieces of the collection, a sort of yellow-mustard-orange that I was able to capture in one of my sketches. 

My final show was Fabiana Milazzo, a perfect way to end. I was excited to attend this show, having seen some of pieces from the designer in their showroom when picking up my tickets the week before. Everything was light and feminine, with lots of beading and sequin, in gold, blush and blues. It all had an ethereal quality and was basically my dream wardrobe. The show did not disappoint, lots of embellishment and a gorgeous colour palette!

Of course I had to sketch my favourite part of SPFW, the street style. My love for sketching street style has developed over the past year.  There's an individuality and character to street style that I find makes such an interesting subject.  Bold, saturated colours where very popular at SPFW so naturally I jumped on sketching the trend.  I love this collection of sketches the most, I feel like it really captured the feeling of São Paulo Fashion Week.

 

Click here to open the gallery of the images!

Stephanie

New Blog

I'm starting a blog as a new way to share with all of you more about me as an artist and what I do behind the scenes of my job. 

As a fairly introverted person I've been reluctant for a long time to start one, worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with the content or be comfortable putting myself out there. Social media in general has always been a laborious task to me, some people seem to take to it so naturally, but I can't get past the anxiety of exposing myself for an audience. That being said, I do love finding other like-minded individuals who share the same passions I do, and having followers who admire and support your work is wonderful and essential for when things have you feeling down.  

I can't ever describe how much my work means to me, and how much I love my job. It is a dream come true and is constantly giving me new goals to strive for. I find inspiration and motivation plentiful and hope to share that enthusiasm and passion with all of you through this blog!

Enjoy!

Stephanie

 

 

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