How did you get into fashion illustration? How long have you been doing this?
Fashion brings together all artistic domains: color from painting, silhouette from sculpture, fashion shows from theater performance. What is most fascinating for me in fashion - is the dynamic of monthly change in style, which always presents an exciting challenge for an illustrator.
In my art education I went through different schools, which gave me excellent skills and work discipline- I started my education in The Russian Academy of Art realizing my childhood dream - to be a painter in a very classical way. I graduated from the Ecole des Arts Décoratifs de Strasbourg (Strasbourg College of Applied Arts) studying illustration in the studio of one of the best French illustrators - Claude Lapointe. My passion for fashion then brought me to GRETA de la mode (institution affiliated to Chamber Syndical de la Haute couture de Paris) where I studied fashion design.
My rich educational background helped me to combine the best skills necessary for being a fashion illustrator: a good grounding in painting, strong anatomical knowledge and a deep understanding of garment design and construction.
I was participating in various projects in fashion (illustration) for almost 10 years combining different styles, working as a designer and also as an illustrator for different brands. Fashion illustration has always been my favorite avenue of artistic self expression and I feel that it is the forum that is best suited to my combined skills. Being a free lance illustrator gives a great opportunity to work with different outstanding designers and fashion editors.
What makes an outfit appealing to illustrate? That is to say, how do you decide which look/collection to capture when there are so many?
It's always a big challenge to choose a collection and particular outfit to illustrate - there are so many amazing ones! Personally I love life drawing. Nothing can compare with the live perception of a collection as in being there and interpreting the show. I love the way a catwalk show of a collection develops dramatically like a theatrical performance: from the introduction and then unfolding through the various scenes until it culminates in the grand finale.
I'm always very interested in the garments in the middle of the collection - as they really reflect the unique style of a designer and their particular vision for the collection. I'm attracted by color, print , individual sculptural fit and original freshness of a garment. But it's true that to make a choice - it is a hard task. But above all as with any artistic work it's always going be the inner feeling - simply called " inspiration" - that will usually excite me the most. As with any fashion illustrator, one of the biggest challenges I face is to try and, as skillfully as possible, represent in a two dimensional way designs that look so vibrant and amazing on the catwalk.
How important is it for a fashion illustrator to have their own unique style?
I think it's very important. Any artist such as designers, painters, musicians are always recognized by their own unique and individual style. And the truly great ones have a stylistic signature which elevates them as artists and makes their work unmistakable regardless of the developments they go through during their career
A perfect example is Pablo Picasso - he went through many different artistic epochs, developing his style through out but always maintaining his own particular perception and unique artistic signature
How would you describe your illustration style? Who has influenced your style?
I use to base my drawings on life sketches. I love to sketch from real life scenes everywhere- in parisian cafés, watching Indian fishermen on a beach, being inspired by other artist's work in galleries and interesting exhibitions in museums . I guess life drawing formed my style… then after that a very strict academic art study mixed with my own love of color and and belief in a free and uninhibited way. I use all drawing materials which are available to me - I can paint on expensive water color paper but I'm just as happy doing a pencil sketch on a paper napkin in a cafe.
My style is influenced a lot by "old school" illustrators: Hugo Pratt and Rene Gruau, Onchi Kôshirô, Antonio Lopez. I also like the elegance of Patrick Nagel's work and the color exposure and freshness of Christian Lacroix's drawings. In terms of contemporary fashion illustrators I really appreciate the work of David Downtown
What do you think makes for a quality fashion illustration? Is there more to a quality illustration than faithfully sketching the collections?
I consider that both are very important. Because of my fashion design background, I can either faithfully reproduce any garment as I see it, or I could be inspired by what the designer is trying to say with the unity of the whole collection, and by then interpreting that through the prism of my own artistic perception, I can deliver illustrations that convey an elaborated overview of a show that I am viewing. I think it should be a well balanced combination.
I know that you also do other types of illustration. What makes fashion illustration unique from other types of illustration?
Fashion illustration is about - movement, life models, sharp quick perception and the culmination of all one's drawing skills and artistic interpretation coming together in that one moment when you make the illustration. This is a work without eraser. Making travel book sketches, painting or doing long pose life drawings - these all give you time for modification and correction. Fashion illustration is like a musical play - if a musician plays a false note, everybody can hear it. If a line, a color or the overall composition is wrong from the beginning of your sketch then as an illustrator, you needs to start all over again on a fresh piece of paper. This put a lot of pressure on getting it right from the second your pencil touches the paper. It also means that you are always relying on your ability to immediately, intuitively and expertly interpret what you see. This is what makes fashion illustration unique and that is why I love to be involved in it so much