Fashion illustration records and documents forms of clothing, especially when being worn. Its aim is to help designers and manufacturers understand the physicality and look of clothes, but also to persuade and excite the view about the clothes. It requires capturing the posture of a person, the clothes they’re wearing, the particular nature and detail of those clothes, and how they relate to the figure wearing them. But it often uses a very stylised way of drawing, to try and bring some energy, excitement and style to the whole piece.
A dilemma with fashion illustration – particularly contemporary illustration – is how to capture both the details of the product with a contemporary aesthetic style that relies on simplification? The type of styles I like make use of line – dynamic/gesture or quirky, and have an eye for shape. But I am also interested in the underlying concept – are images of women and men being promoted stereotypical or new. Given that the obvious aim of fashion illustration is generally to sell clothes, how does fashion itself serve to challenge stereotypes?
My source material for this project is ongoing from quick pencil sketches at airports while I was travelling. These were then worked up as digital illustrations in different styles as part of Assignment 6: Review – iPad workflow review and during my final preparation for assessment.
In the early twentieth century fashion illustration tended to be quite constrained, and also limited in the media used to pencil, ink and watercolour. Most of the illustration was of women. In the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s fashion illustration became more varied in media and emphasising much more individuality. Men were also represented as men became more interested in fashion.
Western contemporary innovation
Since the beginning of 21st century there has been a widening of both style and media. A lot of fashion illustration does tend to still have a very similar feel – glossy and photoshopped or Twiggy-like long legs. But there is a much greater mixing of ethnic styles, use of black and white.
The advent of digital software has made fashion illustration, particularly Photoshop, possible even for people who cannot draw figures. But a lot of images on the Internet are (in my view) samey over-glamorised images without much ‘soul’. The reason I have not been much interested in fashion illustration so far. But through a Pinterest search as well as Google, I found quite a few styles that I found innovative and interesting to follow up.
In my own work I am particularly interested in work by:
Tobbie Giddio works with dynamic lines and shapes, often using Japanese ink techniques or charcoal strokes. These capture the gestural line of the figure. However some of her more detailed coloured work I find overdone and formulaic – not much of the clothing and model left under the artistic panache.
Tiffany Ju has a more sketchy style in some of her work, that captures details of the pose and clothing. But without looking too polished.
page on Behance https://www.behance.net/choonfai
Singapore-based illustrator who creates black and white digital images. These are a bit staged and stereotyped in portrayal of female ‘attitude’ – as in much of the fashion iconography. But I also find them atmospheric.
Strang’s work is very stylised, often with a fairly dark edge to it.
Some of his work is in a style like Ronald Scarfe. Other work like the pants illustration below combines humour with clear information – as an innovative way of combining photography and illustration.
Sophie Griotto works digitally, collaging images into carefully crafted figure shapes that reflect the style of the clothing. Using location images, rather than just patterns of textiles, creates a status image – who the wearer wants to be.
I also very much like the edgy art of Herakut. They also do some fashion work.
Herakut style for fashion
Other sources include:
LineArt on : https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/389350330264711171/
Showstudio artists links:
I am also interested in possibilities of adapting styles of artists like Egon Schiele and Basquiat. Also the potential of adapting Islamic, Japanese and other calligraphy styles. In preparation for the project I looked particularly at:
I also consulted a number of books on technique and You Tube videos like: Fashion Illustration Techniques: Zoe Hong