Artist Jessica Bartram first showed her watercolour portraits of Notable Victorians (all of whom happened to be animals) at Industrees Gallery (now defunct) last year. She is currently creating portraits of a fresh set of characters and searching for a new gallery, but she kindly contributed a few designs of ascot-wearing lions for WORN’s Pin Party. Whether they are members of high society or the Dickensian fishmongers, chimney sweeps or strumpets of the streets, her characters are always fabulously dressed.
Clothing and props play a significant role in the establishment of character in your work. Do you get as much inspiration from hats, ties and monocles as you do from animals?
Yes, I’m most definitely attracted to the ornate and slightly mad elements of Victorian fashion – the crazy hats adorned with whole taxidermied birds, the mammoth sleeves, bustles. It’s a rich field from which to harvest all kinds of inspiration! I’m always trolling Flickr, Google images, and Tumblr old photos to use as reference, and it’s inevitably the crazier outfits that catch my eye. There’s a printout on my bulletin board of a portrait of a lady wearing a striped silk dress (with a tightly cinched waist sash and enormous mutton-leg sleeves) and a heavily feathered hat – she’s probably my next dress reference.
Jacqueline Bos‘s illustrations are a mishmash of prints, doodles, colours, and inky patterns. The resulting images are eclectic, vibrant and totally one of a kind. A regular Worn contributor, Jacqueline illustrated the haikus in our most recent Shoe issue (which were mistakenly credited as being done by a different editor — our sincerest apologies, Jacqueline!). Interview by Anna Fitz.
Where did your interest in art begin?
I’ve been drawing and making things for as long as I can remember; I always liked having pens and sharp pencils around growing up.
What are your favourite things to draw?
Imaginary lands, myths or mini stories, patterns, and silly animals. I am really drawn to things that have a fairy tale quality to them, but I think you can bring a whimsical nature into many different situations.
Your fashion illustrations are quite unconventional — a collage of cut-out pictures and your own illustrations. Can you describe your creative process a bit? Do you tend to do the drawings first or work around the images you find?
Those were created extra special just for Worn — fun, huh? For those, since they are primarily collage, I started with all the textures, and pieced together a figure type form, and then went from there, though usually I let them build a bit more organically, switching back and forth between paper and ink. I love being able to pull textures and patterns to create the fashion illustrations, though when I work with a particular designer or line, I like to work primarily with drawing and just use collage to add a little drama to them.
Audrey Malo is a Quebec-based artist who sells her work in her etsy store, Cendrille. The girls she depicts in her paintings are sometimes melancholic but always well dressed; they manage to be sweet without being saccharine.
How do you decide what the girls in your drawings will wear? Do they reflect your own style?
I don’t really plan anything when I draw, it is mostly intuitive. Once the face is traced, I just sketch something that looks cute and that feels right with the personality of my character. I’ve been told my girls look like me and I think this is a bit true, they wear what I’d like to wear every day. We share a common interest for dresses, bows, hearts and red lipstick!
How did you dress when you were a girl?
I had two distinct phases when I was young: from kindergarten to age 8, I was really into princess dresses and would always wear extravagant puffy-sleeved floral dresses in class pictures. Ponytails and bows in my hair too. Then, at 9, I started wearing glasses and got braces so I didn’t feel really cute. I was just wearing what was “in” at the time – jeans and brightly coloured t-shirts, and tennis shoes. Basically my mom would help me dress up until I was about 11. Then in high school I was a goth, but that’s another story.
What are your favourite artistic mediums? Are there any out there you have yet to try but you would like to?
I’ve been painting with opaque watercolours for a while now and this is most definitely my favourite, as the colour always comes out very bright and dries fast. I’d love to try inks — as well as be taught how to do it properly!
Kate Wilson is a London-based illustrator who, on top of depicting the typical Prada bag will also add her own elements, like birds with mullets and the anatomy of a banana split. Her clients have included Marc Jacobs and The Guardian.
How do you decide what your girls will wear?
I think a little of my own style creeps into theirs! I suppose my own likes/dislikes influence my work, but I also get a lot of inspiration from street style and fashion blogs as well as walking around and people-watching myself (it’s a guilty pleasure for me!).
Many of your illustrations are based on actual fashion collections; what are some of your favourite collections?
I love anything by designers like Luella and Karen Walker, but also quirky labels like April77, Wren, and Charles Anastase. I’ve recently been trying to buy more vintage pieces and have indulged in a great brocade skirt from Liebemarlene Vintage, who I think you featured a while ago.
Have you ever incorporated your own designs into your drawings?
I haven’t as of yet but it’s something I would love to do, probably starting with t-shirt designs, but I think it’s time I learned how to sew properly so I can whip up my own designs!
Usually your fashion illustrations focus on the clothes, often leaving the faces of the models blank, but occasionally you will go into detail on their faces (like this example here). Why is that?
To be honest, at first it was because I found it really tricky to get their faces to look right! For some reason whenever I drew a face it made me dislike the drawing… but as I went on I grew to like the spacing that it gave the images. It offsets the intricate detail I normally use by having that blank space. I hope that covers up my inability to draw faces properly.