Addressing My Illustration Issue
Updated: Aug 23, 2020
As mentioned in the previous post, I have done A LOT of reflecting on my illustration. I have always previously created a little 'lady' illustration and duplicated her throughout my portfolio. This creates a feeling of uniformity, the total opposite of what I have always stood for as a designer but clearly never realised I wasn't fully practising. How can I create a collection based around diverse bodies if they are all drawn on the same person?
I set out to do a bit of research on this, I convinced myself that it was just me! I pulled out a few illustration books I have on my shelf, that I have actually never opened, and within 30 seconds I realised the problem is throughout fashion. I flicked through page after page of beautifully drawn illustrations that didn't represent different races, ages, or bodies. In fact, all of them looked the same. It made me angry.
These 3 are taken from the book 'The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments in Fashion' by the illustrator Megan Hess. The entire thing was quite difficult to look at, despite the book itself being a thing of beauty, the images speak for themselves really. The chapter devoted to illustrating well-known figures clearly highlights the way this style completely lacks diversity in so many ways. Grace Jones and Beyonce's beautiful skin tones are not represented at all. Beyonce's signature curves have been removed and Iris Apfel's age is not even close to being apparent, never mind celebrated. This begs the question, if you aren't going to represent basic fundamental features of a person, why bother drawing them at all?
I took to looking online, and most links I clicked on showed me the same.
It isn't all bad, there were a few amazing illustrators either being SO abstract that they don't even look human, or offering a lovely diverse range of models delicately inked with the latest shows. Some of my favourites included: Donald Robertson (@drawbertson), Blair Breitenstein (@blairz) and Bil Donovan (@bildonovan).
With regards to my illustrations, I am nowhere near talented enough to produce something of this level. I need something practical, easy to do and professionally finished. After a fair few days of agonising and trying to problem solve, I came to the conclusion that the most obvious answer is the best answer. Why not just draw on top of photos of real women? That way, I can visualise what garments will actually look like on a diverse range of bodies. Instagram has been my best friend with this one, and I am loving showcasing beautiful women in my pages!
This is just a couple of pieces from my design development to show what I mean.