The unique ability to use a pen or brush in a way that captures the nuances of a story with a unique feeling of intimacy is back on the pages of fashion. But, are illustrations as alluring as they were back in history?
The world of fashion isn’t just vested in the allure of clothing. From the 16th century, the art of dress-making has unfolded newer chapters giving rise to the business of fashion, supply chain, cultural appropriation, laws, virtual reality and what not! But, how do you capture the mystifying aura of fashion through mere sketches? These graphic representations have now become a vocation for the latest styles, reinventing the culture of shopping and opening the portal to ‘actually’ visualizing design. Natasha Joseph has been into this visualization form since she was a child. Stumbling upon David Downton’s illustrations in a magazine, she knew that fashion illustrations would be her getaway for weaving a unique storytelling form.
An international fashion illustrator, Natasha has worked with homegrown and international clients including NYX Cosmetics, CosmoGirl, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Saks Fifth Avenue, Diane Von Furstenberg. She recalls, “In 2017, I received an email from Dutch CosmoGirl Magazine and was featured in the Artist Special column. This was a turning point for me and the motivation to pursue a career as an illustrator.” She has always loved drawing character sketches inspired by her favourite comic book characters as long as she can remember.
Natasha is greatly inspired by the work of artists such as René Gruaú, David Downton and Antonio Lopez. Her work consists of illustrations that instantly sparks and elevates one’s mood. She adds, “I like to find inspiration in almost everything. It can be something as exciting as travelling to a new country or even a routine activity like going to a bookshop. I try to capture a mood or story when I draw. If I’m working with a brand or a company, it’s really important for me to understand their products, what they represent, colours, themes etc. and try to incorporate that into the artwork so that the brand and artwork are always in sync!”
Spilling beans on what makes her illustrations influential and pleasing for the eyes, she says “If I’m live drawing, I love using Copic watercolour brush pens, they blend really well and compliment speed drawing beautifully. For digital illustrations, I use a 12” iPad and Apple Pencil. There are several digital applications available to artists but my favourite app is Procreate.” She also recalls an illustration event hosted by The Colony Hotel, Palm Beach in collaboration with Serena and Lily, a home décor brand and fashion bloggers, Beth and Danielle from ‘Palm Beach Lately’ – “I really enjoyed working on this custom piece, incorporating elements of the bloggers’ style, the hotel and the home décor business all into one illustration. The clients at the event loved receiving these along with their event invites and it was a total hit!”
Illustrations & Beyond
Fashion illustrating has certainly risen in popularity. An art falling between the likes of both contemporary and commercial world, illustrations have only recently been reevaluated as a significant genre in its own right. She remarks, “Illustrations are a fresh medium for storytelling where artists get to express their unique drawing style to connect with their audience. There is a broad range of services now that illustrators can offer from licensing their artwork to brands, creating illustrations for social media or editorial magazines to running a store on Etsy where one can offer their artwork or products with their designs for clients to purchase. The opportunities are endless.”
Having already collaborated with giant houses of fashion and lifestyle like Louis Vuitton, Dior, Natasha explains to us how extended art form collaborations create a new avenue in the commercial and contemporary world, “They give an incredible platform to establish your brand and style. Your network grows so did mine. I was not only sketching at store launches and PR events but at bar mitzvahs, bridal showers and charity events. The floodgates start to open.” she says.
Apart from her long-list of illustration lovers on Instagram, which served as a platform to create her portfolio, she also focuses on live illustrations or sketch events, personalised souvenirs and customised products. “I always remind myself to stay calm and enjoy the experience, no matter how crowded or grand an event is. It’s natural to feel nervous when drawing live in front of a large audience especially when people start to crowd around your workstation to take photos or watch you in action.” advises the confident artist.
Art has been always used to communicate different messages within different contexts. Creativity is what fuels big ideas, challenges notions and influences the commercial world in a positive way. These extended forms of art are what drives the giant fashion industry and open newer notions of artistic vision. Natasha concludes, “Practice drawing every day! Stay curious and always look to improve your style or expand into different mediums. There were several hurdles along the way but staying focused and motivated is what helped me to come this far.”