2016 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
For many of us 2016 was not a great year, to put it mildly! With a record amount of celebrity deaths starting with David Bowie and ending with Debbie Reynolds, 2016 was a bit like an unwanted party guest that just wasn’t going to leave quietly. The relentless passing of celebrities at the rate of at least one a month, along with the political upheaval that caused unprecedented levels of nasty division in both the UK and the USA, 2016 was well, a bit crap really. As for many of us , 2016 for me had it’s good parts and it’s bad parts. So here’s a rundown of my year, what I did, what I learn’t, and the highs and the lows. A year in the life of a Fashion Illustrator in London.
2016 – My year in Fashion Illustration- London
I make my living as a freelance fashion illustrator, and by it’s very nature, freelance work is very unpredictable. After having spent Christmas in the USA, I was all set for the January lock-down that is so common for freelancers to experience at the beginning of each year, due to the financial hangover that most companies seem to experience at this time. In January, the phrase ‘let’s hire a freelancer’ seems to be the one that most companies want to avoid. However, in January 2016, I got an unexpected project that landed in my lap right way. It was to do a large number of storyboards to help with the planning of a big anniversary celebration for an Italian menswear company in Knightsbridge, London. I’d never done story boards before, so that was a great new experience for me. They were surprisingly easy to do, which has given me more confidence to move forward in that area. Later on in the year I had the confidence to provide Optrex with some storyboard illustrations for one of their commercials. Here’s a few examples of what I came up with in January for those party ideas.
Staying with the party theme, I was also approached by Lanson Champagne, to do some fashion illustrations for them. I had quite a good party theme going on there, which was appropriate for January New Year’s. So all in all I had a really busy start to 2016 !
More live illustration in London
I generally split my time between my art studio which is just over an hour outside London, and office space I have in Shoreditch, London. I also travel a lot to live illustration events mainly in central London. Live illustration has been gaining huge momentum over the last few years as a great way to add social media clout to any corporate or in-store event. I’d say by now most fashion illustrators have probably been approached about doing a live illustration event. It’s not for everyone, but 2016 saw me pretty busy with live illustration events. In spring I illustrated for Oasis Fashion, in collaboration with the V and A museum, in Manchester. Oasis teamed up with the V and A to use their William Morris prints in an amazing dress collection. I also provided live illustration for a really fun client party for Parisian fashion house Carven, in London. There was a jazz band playing and plenty of champagne and canapes which made the event a real pleasure to do. It was also great fun to illustrate at a street fair in London outside stylish eyewear brand Walter and Herbert in Covent Garden. The event was Style Saturday in Seven Dials which is a super quaint shopping district in Covent Garden, London that I had not had the pleasure of visiting before. I never knew outdoor illustration would be so much fun! I certainly couldn’t complain about the light! Another big client I had the pleasure of working with in 2016 was Wella Hair, providing bespoke portraits for journalists and bloggers on one of their press days in London. Here are a few photos of the highlights of my live illustration adventure of 2016. Other live illustration events that I was asked to do in 2016 and would have loved to have accepted were Ralph Lauren and Louis Vuitton. Oh well, can’t win them all, maybe next year…
Teaming up with bloggers
2016 also saw me collaborating a lot with other creative types, mainly fashion and beauty bloggers. I illustrated some really fun blogger fashion illustrations for French brand La Redoute, for one of their press days. I also teamed up with London fashion blogger Emma Corrie-Hill to create some exciting fashion illustrations for her blog. Stateside, I worked with San Francisco blogger The Frugal Fashionista to create some really fun imagery for her blog which concentrates on staying stylish on a shoestring budget. Here’s a few pictures which reflects some of my blogging fashion illustration collaboration highlights of 2016.
The year of the Giveaway !
This year I teamed up with quite a few other Instagram creatives to do some super fun giveaways. The highlights were baby portrait giveaways with baby bow designers Simple June and Chanel No 5 perfume illustrations with London bloggers Champagne Girls About Town. Here are a couple of examples of the prizes that I gave away !
A year of portraits
Last year I did quite a lot of portraits, be they stylized fashion illustrations of people for birthday presents, or more traditional watercolour portraits. Here are a few portrait highlights from 2016. My New Year’s Resolution is to do more celebrity portraits of people I consider to be absolute icons.
2016 comes to a close
One of two standout projects that I worked on towards the end of the year was a group of fashion illustrations for curvy fashion brand Bravissimo. Whilst I can’t show you those illustrations just yet, it certainly was fun working with Bravissimo on a group of illustrations to demonstrate the different fits of their clothing and lingerie.
The second project was a vintage sweets colouring book. Colouring books have become more and more popular over the last few years, as people try to find new ways to de-stress, unwind, and take some time out from adulting. I illustrated a colouring book for Sweet Champions, the brand behind such classic favourites as Black Jacks, Fruit Salads and Sherbet Dip Dabs. Here are a few pages out of the colouring book that I did. One occupational hazard that came with this project was that I had to buy samples of the sweets to use for reference. Well oops on that one… I think I inhaled both packs of Black Jacks and Fruit Salads over the course of two days…. Talk about childhood nostalgia!
Keeping it personal
As a busy fashion illustrator I find it more important than ever to take some time out in between clients and do some personal work. It’s a real treat to be able to illustrate without the pressure of deadlines and without having to conform to a strict brief. In simple terms, it’s super fun to draw exactly what YOU want to draw ! This year one of my favourite personal projects were these perfume bottles…… I found them so inspiring and pretty and had a lot of fun drawing these. I hope you like them too. Well that’s it for 2016; here’s to more fashion illustration frills, spills and adventures in 2017 ! If you think you would be interested in looking further at my skills, why not have a look at my Fashion Illustration page or my Live Illustration page ? Stay tuned for more fun projects and hopefully a lot more portraits. I will leave you with a few of those perfume bottles from my favourite personal project of 2016. Happy New Year!