The Task: Everyday fashion
Draw a range of people in different clothes. In some of the drawings try and describe their whole outfit; in others, focus on specific elements, such as different types of hat. You can take a reportage approach and draw people out on the street, or use yourself, friends or family as models.
Focus on describing the clothes through your drawing, but don’t forget the people themselves. Try and capture something of the wearer’s physical shape, posture and character as well as the clothes they’re wearing.
Work some of your drawings into illustrations which perhaps exaggerate what you’ve observed. You might want to bring in more colour, simplify your lines or create images that are much more stylised to do this.
This project focuses on the reportage side of fashion illustration, drawing people and their clothing.
I did not expect to enjoy this so much, as I am really not interested in fashion. But when I started researching different styles of fashion photography I discovered many contemporary approaches that I want to explore further for my other work (See Fashion Illustration). I was less interested in older styles (See Fashion Illustration 1900-1980s: London and Paris) I also started to study techniques and figure drawing through You Tube (See Fashion Illustration Techniques: Zoe Hong and books by Laird Borelli, Naoki Wtanabe and Michele Wesen Bryant).I am particularly interested in work by Choonfai, Zandra Rhodes, Richard Haines, Alec Strang, Howard Tangye and possibilities of adapting styles of artists like Egon Schiele, Basquiat and Herakut. Also adapting Islamic, Japanese and other calligraphy styles.
My main source material for this project were sketches at airports while I am travelling. As with Project 2.2 On Location, I am better doing quick pencil sketches but in a very small pocket-size sketchbook. Taking quick pictures on my iPhone or making short notes. Then working up these pencil sketches afterwards on my iPad or other media. I did a lot more work on this as part of my investigation of different iPad software for the Critical Review: iPad explorations, particularly using SketchClub, Procreate and SketchbookPro exploring different stylistic possibilities in each App.
I experimented with a number of different approaches and styles, attempting to match these with either an observed or imaged character for the person and/or cultural artistic styles.
Flat vector brush
Although I have a lot more work to do to make these images really convincing and more innovative, I am quite please with my progress. I very much enjoyed the combination of life sketching, imagination and stylistic experimentation even if I am not particularly interested in fashion. This is now definitely an area I would like to continue to work on in future.
Evolution of the images
Heathrow to Hong Kong
My first sketches were at Heathrow on my way to Indonesia in May 2016. In Heathrow it is not easy to take photos because of security. But sketching did not seem any problem. People were too busy to really notice.
Woman with bags
Here I like the flat rendering, for its colourful simplicity. But this was an early image and needs refining.
Man in a jacket
The man himself was actually very preoccupied and academic. But I imagined him as a grey-haired middle-aged man trying to make his like interesting – and people interested in him – through colourful (garish) jackets. I quite like the hint of the colourful hat of a woman behind who might be a soulmate? I think the green hat works best to echo the smaller colour area of his pullover, sandwiching the pink of the jacket. The different visual dynamics here was interesting.
Hong Kong airport
In Honk Kong airport (my next leg to Indonesia) it was quite easy to take photos. And a bit more difficult to sketch because I was obviously a foreigner. What was very evident here were all the digital devices that people were completely preoccupied with. As long as I was discreet and sketched while they were busy it was OK.
This woman actually had two phones and a laptop she was working on at the same time. I quite like the original Procreate painterly style as a style, but it did not really fit her, and needed cropping and redrawing to fit a different crop. The vector style imitates manga, also Japanese woodcuts or Chinese painting. I experimented with different colour schemes to explore different moods. As a flat image it shows her efficient absorption and maybe lack of depth, or at least lack of overt emotion. The most ‘Chinese’ is the golden image. The most moody and one I prefer is the last one with the dark red imperial but rather sad colours.
Man with red eagle T-shirt
Here I wanted to emphasise his absorption in his phone. As something maybe quite obsessive and oppressive, and more Western. So, following some Gottardo portraits, I thought of combining ink and vector styles with an oppressive red shape. Around what is almost a Klee Madonna pose as he adores his phone. I experimented a lot with the shape of the red area. The details of exactly how wide the white boundary is, the placing of the shoulder hump, whether the ink drawing slightly overhangs it, and cropping etc make a lot of difference to the immediate reading – how oppressive it is.
Sitting in airports in Nairobi and other African countries with large muslim populations I have always been fascinated by the big variation in the ways that women have adapted Islamic dress. I researched Islamic fashion illustration, and found a few styles I liked, but nothing really innovative. See Islamic fashion illustration post).
Waiting at Bandar Lampung airport on my way from Sumatra back to Jakarta was short, but it was easy to photograph. The Islamic style here is quite distinctive and business like, and often colourful. I did not have time to sketch as I was with a colleague, but took photos and then sketched from these later in my sketchbook.
I then produced some flat stylised ‘businesslike but feminine’ images in SketcClub vector brush. I need to work more on the actual shapes, but I like this style.
Nairobi is a crossroads between Arabia and Africa, so here there are also many interesting and distinctive hijab styles. I became fascinated by all the different ways women tied their headscarves, obviously from different cultures and places.
I originally envisaged something like a cross between the delicate flowing calligraphic style from Asia. But do not think this works as well as the first fat image.
There were also women from other culture in Nairobi – quite distinctive posture. I like the Rwandan woman from Kigali in her pink jacket – it actually was shocking pink. I like the tentative painterly style – as if she herself is not sure of herself.
Other sketches from Nairobi I think would very much lend themselves to a style like that of Richard Haines and Howard Tangye – like Egon Schiele. Maybe a mix of Basquiat and/or Herakut.
Istanbul to Bishkek
Istanbul airport was the place I first saw Kyrgyz people – I was fascinated by some of the women’s plaited hairstyles. It was a bit difficult to photograph because of security. Also drawing by a foreigner was noticed. So the sketches and photos were very quick. The final image draws on what I learned about Kyrgyz culture – actually in Bishkek quite Western with a lot of Russian and also French influence. It was also clear that mothers-in-law could be quite terrifying and powerful. So I wanted to try and combine those ideas in the image. A sort of French watercolour with a sharp femininity that is rather shrewish with piercing blue eyes and red lips. Not exactly the woman I saw, and the image needs redoing, but I think the style has potential.
Woman with turquoise scarf
The last three images were really just explorations of style – finding or inventing something about clothing or glasses that could be interesting. I quite like the style with just one point of colourful interest in woman in a turquoise scarf.
Woman with red jacket
This one needs to be much rougher – maybe a teenager with attitude.
I like the ink sketch best. I could make more of the glasses.
My final image was an ink doodle from a fashion magazine that I started experimenting with in a bolder dominatrix/regal style. It was the intricacy of the texture of the kitted scarf that provided the fashion interest. I like the impact of these crops and colours, and their very obvious artificiality. But I need to work more on them to make that clear. And also get more skilled at airbrush portrait styles in Procreate. The images look better printed (as in the assessment submission) than the sharper images on screen. The final image is a bit like Oppie – I just printed the paint layer. That also is something I could look at more.
Other styles to explore
I want to do some very stylised calligraphic ink and watercolour versions of these sketches of muslim women in different types of headdress. The images I would like to do would reflect the dignity and liveliness of the women in their often very colourful and artfully constructed scarves over what are often quite elaborate hairstyles. The closest to what I have in mind are the watercolour calligraphy of artists like Hassan Massoudy.