In the age of the internet, a photograph can be circulated globally in a matter of seconds. With live streaming apps, Snapchat stories and Instagram posts, there are endless ways that fashion moments are shared – and it’s all about unrelenting speed and instant access. In all this, it’s no wonder some are turning to mediums that speak to a slower way of doing things – illustration is one of those rare forms which looks to create an image with longevity, that relies upon delayed gratification. Last month, Instagram invited an influential crowd of illustrators together to celebrate London Fashion Week – here are five of our favourites to hit follow on.
UNSKILLED WORKER (@unskilledworker)
Unskilledworker’s atmospheric art is perhaps currently some of the most celebrated on Instagram. They worked with SHOWstudio to create original artworks to coincide with Alexander McQueen’s Savage Beauty exhibition last year at the V&A, have illustrated a Business of Fashion cover, and along with Glen Luchford and Rachel Feinstein, was invited by Gucci’s Alessandro Michele to create a response to his work, to be exhibited at Minsheng Art Museum in Shanghai last year.
“I started painting and I had so much that I wanted to express, I didn't feel I had the skills to convey. Unskilledworker felt like the perfect name to represent me as a self-taught artist, also I liked the genderless anonymity of it,” they told us. “My paintings are an emotional response to an image, if the feeling isn’t there, the painting won't happen. Really, it’s more about the person, how they live and feel in the clothes, they all have a story that comes more alive to me as I paint them.”
RICHARD KILROY (@richardkilroy)
From global publications to his own magazine Decoy, to the Thames & Hudson book Menswear Illustration, Richard Kilroy’s images have been narrating fashion for a while now. Recently, Kilroy collaborated with ten of London’s foremost designers – from J.W. Anderson to Claire Barrow – on a Star Wars project to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital. His marriage of realism and suggested form make Kilroy’s work evocative of a photographed image: something which the illustrator is aiming to contort.
“When I use colour and line I want it to be more suggestive and about satisfying shapes, I don't enjoy working with colour in extreme detail like I do with graphite,” says Kilroy. “Getting the balance of these is where I find satisfaction; taking photorealism away from the notion of being a ‘human photocopier’ with no space for interpretation, seeing it as more of a collage of realist and suggestive elements.”
MANJIT THAPP (@manjitthapp)
A student on the Fashion Illustration course at Camberwell College of Art, Manjit Thapp’s work is direct and full of punch. Still at the start of her career, she is turning illustration into wearable pieces and tech accessories. “For my fashion work I usually like to illustrate looks that are quite bold in colour, shape or print, or they have an interesting quality. Sometimes I’ll really like a photo from the runway but feel that it might not translate as well or be as fun to draw.”
As for how she knows a work is finished, she says – “I think it’s an instinctive thing, you just know. Usually with the fashion illustrations I like to start with block colours and shapes and then start to add in all the finer details, I like it to look as close to the real thing as possible.” Highlights from her feed include her interpretations of the Balenciaga and Gucci runways.
GILL BUTTON (@buttonfruit)
Gill Button describes herself first and foremost as an artist. She most recently collaborated on the Dries Van Noten AW16 invites, and has recently come off a two week long solo show at The Bluebird in London. The subjects of her paintings are women who “know what they want”, and “get dressed to do it”.
“The way I work has developed in a completely organic way and hopefully will continue to do so,” says Button. “I’m a painter rather than a fashion illustrator as such, which is why my approach perhaps differs. I’m simply painting portraits, and sometimes my subjects wear amazing clothes!”
NICASIO TORRES (@nicasio_torres)
Nicasio Torres was SHOWstudio’s recent Milan Menswear Illustrator. His work focusses on the personal, fragile side of male beauty – using inks to capture feeling rather than directly copied detail. “I have found the images I produce using the Chinese ink technique both excite and disturb me. These drawings are unfinished and indefinite, at the same time as being tactile and with a certain depth,” Torres revealed. “The body’s representation is one of my favourite artistic themes, so I feel very familiar with fashion illustration. For that reason, it’s an ideal pretext for me to develop my work. I don’t try to represent all of the visual characteristics of an image, I just illustrate the aspects that move me.”
Follow Tom Rasmussen on Twitter here @tomglitter