Drawn Out Fashions

Crushing on Illustrator Ed J. Brown

Whether he’s whipping up a pastel-hued illustration for some awesome publication, cough, WORN Issue 15, cough, or just working on his whimsical drawing series of mythological beasts, Ed J. Brown is always telling a story. Focusing on the narrative power of illustration, Ed uses movement, kooky characters, and lots of texture to give an editorial some extra pizzazz or just make a viewer laugh. His vibrant blog is regularly updated with new work (his most recent pictorial interests include drawings of outer space and original typeface) and he’s a regular contributor to Art School Disco. We sat down with the UK-based illustrator to discuss how he wishes he could dress like his drawings and why illustration and fashion mags go together like ice cream and apple pie.

Is there any connection between your style as an artist and your personal style?
I’ve never been able to define my style, and I don’t mean that in a cool, I’m-so-indefinable-and-unique way. It’s more like one day I decided to wear plaid shirts and that’s going on three years now. I guess there is some overlap, like when I’m drawing people’s clothes I don’t want solid colours—I want some checks on there or some plaids. I’ll turn up the trousers or give them little tiny heels, and other than me notwearing tiny heels, there is a connection actually.

So your characters’ outfits reflect what you like to wear?
A little bit. I’d like to wear the kind of crazy textures and patterns in my drawings, but I don’t think I’m as brave as the people I like to draw. Visually I don’t always fit the artist/illustrator model. I sometimes wonder how important that is, especially when you’re meeting clients. Do they expect you to turn up with a Wesley Snipes wedge and glow bands?

I’m sure you do just fine with your plaid shirts. A lot of your art, even if it isn’t editorial, is very narrative. What attracted you to that style?
I connect more with an image if I know there’s a story behind it. I feel more involved with it. That’s what I try to put into my drawings. Something as simple as an image of a rainy day conjures up a narrative. I like to think someone could spend a while looking at different layers and elements within my work.

It’s interesting how layered your work is with textures too, I feel like those two things really play off each other.
I fucking love texture, my idea of design is ‘just fill the page.’ I get obsessed with making sure there aren’t little gaps or white space anywhere.

A lot of your art is centered on characters, how does dress come into play in these illustrations?
I like to create oddballs and I don’t like there to be flat colour or flat texture if there doesn’t have to be. Obviously, you do need solids in an image, otherwise it gives you a headache, but particularly with clothing you have a tremendous freedom to insert anything you want. You can sort of describe a character’s personality, get across ideas of who this character is, by what clothes you give them. I think clothes can be great for getting ideas across—same as tattoos really.

There’s a long history of illustration in fashion magazines, what do you think it is about fashion illustrations that photography can’t always replicate?
I think it may come down to communicating an idea within fashion. If someone is describing the feel of an item, or describing the back-story of the clothes, I think in moments like that you really need the whimsy of illustration. It can bring out the ideas behind the clothing.

Who are your favorite illustrators right now?
That’s such a tough question! It changes all the time. I’m always a fan of Jon Boam. He always seems to be doing something fun. Other illustrators I’m liking right now are Jon MacNair, Nick Alston, Luke Best, Roberto Blefari, Niv Bavarsky, George McCallum and of course my Art School Disco brethren.

Crushing on Caitlin Shearer

Caitlin Shearer is a 19-year-old artist from Australia who specialises in painting girls in dresses, both of which are whimsical, feminine and just slightly offbeat.

What is the Bleeding Knees Club, and how did it start?
The Bleeding Knees Club is my imaginary Peter Pan gang; Never Never Land for young ladies.
It started when I accidentally let some red paint leak across a painting of legs, maybe about four years ago. It looked like bleeding knees and I since haven’t been able to let that imagery go.

You recently did a collaboration with Hopeless Lingerie. How was that experience? Do you plan on doing any more designing in the future?
I love Hopeless Lingerie and the designs that Gabrielle Adamidis comes up with. She is truly talented! It was amazing to work with her to illustrate for hopelesshotel.com.au. Initially, I had just e-mailed her to say how much I adored her work, and a really fantastic collaboration blossomed from that. Fashion illustration is something I would really like to get into as a career. Designing clothes is something I am looking at too.
Continue reading

Crushing on Danielle

Interview by Laura Hensley
Photography by Ashley Satchell

Danielle Meder is a Toronto-based freelance fashion illustrator with a degree in fashion design from Ryerson University. She has since used her illustration talents to help communicate fashion ideas for designers, fashion magazines, and newspapers. Danielle recently won the Doc Martens boot competition with her original design Colour Puddle Jump. She has an honest and totally unpretentious fashion blog Final Fashion and the satirical ‘haute on the hog’ Rags and Mags, a collaboration with TFI blogger Carolyn Rohaly.

Coming from a small town, your exposure to fashion must have been far different than it would have been had you grown up in a city. What interested you in fashion as a child and how did you discover your talent for design?
My family had zero interest in fashion at all; in our small town there was one clothing store. I grew up in hand-me-downs. I was homeschooled as a kid so mostly it didn’t matter. My initial interest in fashion was discovering books on costume history in the library – as a kid I would take out as many as I could carry, take them home and study them carefully, and draw paper dolls inspired by all the various eras. When I was a preteen I learned how to use my mom’s treadle Singer sewing machine and I would make cloth dolls with wardrobes inspired by fantasy novels like The Lord of the Rings. As a teenager, I went to small town high school and developed a strong feeling that I wasn’t wearing the right clothes, and I think that sense of discomfort pushed me towards fashion even though I had terrible anxiety that I would never fit in.

Did Ryerson’s fashion program meet your expectations?
I can honestly say that it exceeded my expectations. I worked my way through the library’s fashion section, developed a style of technical and figure illustration that I still use, learned how to sew properly, and spent four years with an amazing group of girls. Growing into your own style over four years as you are surrounded by a group of people doing the same thing is a powerful experience. Not all of my classmates would agree. It is easy to be disenchanted if you expect university to form you into a complete adult and give you a dream job. I think if you take responsibility for your own education regardless of the institution, you can enjoy the privilege of immersing yourself in the subject of your choice without regret.

In an industry that can be harsh, what are the most important lessons you have learned?
Fashion isn’t really as harsh as I thought it would be at all. It is populated by outsiders and eccentrics of every description and allows a lot of individuality and self-expression. Fashion people are very open minded even as they make the inevitable aesthetic judgements.
The most important lessons I have learned… so far? Trust your gut. Invest in quality. Be curious, be kind. Ask for what you want. Stuff like that.
Continue reading