You have a very distinctive style of illustration, particularly in the way you use color to enhance your subjects—how did you go about developing this technique, and what do you feel you are expressing through it?
Watercolor with its reputation of being difficult to master is what initially intrigued me, and when I did use it I loved the unexpected results. So I decided to give myself a challenge to not only learn the technique, but also to use it in an unconventional way. Colour was something I always used to take for granted, but has now become more important and instinctual in my work; I continually get excited by colour combinations.
Some years ago I decided to revisit oil painting, which I always found a bit intimidating. I studied with Californian artist Eric Merrell, whose work is impressively beautiful and his color remarkable. Discovering how to see color through his mentoring changed my work, especially my watercolours.
I find that there’s a mystery and excitement that comes with this medium; it’s exhilarating to see a painting begin to dry out and wonder ‘how on earth did that happen?’
Your pieces could be categorized as works of fashion illustration, but at the same time they seem to transcend the genre; how would you describe your work?
I am happy to hear my pieces transcend a particular genre—I often don’t know how to categorize my work and I personally like it that way. However as a professional artist, you have to give your work some kind of identity, so ‘hashtags’ are a constant battle for me. Rather than attempt to describe my work, I try to stay true to my original goals: to achieve uniqueness, always experiment, and not be bound by tradition or category.
What inspires you to create?
Fashion is a brilliant starting point. Nature is my first inspiration, but fashion and nature combined are pretty sublime. I’ve found myself more than once on a parallel path with a favorite designer—when Alexander McQueen’s designs, inspired by the Shetlands, walked down the runway I was incredibly excited. I had sketchbooks full of ideas from a trip to the Scottish Highlands from around the same time, and those along with the beautiful designs of Sarah Burton were exciting inspirations for a series of paintings.
What’s it like to be working as an artist in this medium today?
It’s easy to get caught up with showing new work instantly to stay current in a fast, competitive market. These days I find myself constantly resisting the temptation to do so. From a business side of things some may say this is not a great idea, but I’d prefer to wait and have only my best work out there, something I wish I had done when first starting out.