Mentor Case Studies x2

Mentors: Stina Persson and David Downton research

What for you makes a successful fashion illustration?
Fluidity, mastery of the medium - capturing a sense of the moment, layout and use of space and most important of all, strong drawing. You can't be too good at drawing.
-David Downton interviewed by Tony Glenville
David Downton is a well known fashion illustrator who draws from couture shows and the portraits of female celebrities such as Erin O’Connor, Linda Evangelista, Carmen Dell'Orefice, and Dita Von Teese <http://www.daviddownton.com/biography.html>.  He has illustrated for many commercial projects like  Tiffany & Co, Bloomingdales, Chanel, Dior,  Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and the V&A Museum; and in 1998 Downton launched the first ever  journal of Fashion Illustration, Pourquoi Pas? <<http://www.pqpmagazine.com/David Downton has a BA hons illustration/graphics and is a visiting Professor at London College of Fashion. In April 2009 received an honory doctorate from the Academy of Art University, SanFrancisco.<http://www.daviddownton.com/biography.html> Celebrated model and portrait sitter, Carmen Dell’Orefice comments “David is foremost a gentleman. He is a disciplined romantic with a unique ability to capture the essence of his subjects.” (Downton, 2010)
Downton's career as a fashion illustrator came gradually- first from being a commercial illustrator, over a period of 15 years whilst he was illustrating for a variety of books, advertising and packaging, until he was commissioned to draw the Paris Haute Couture shows for a magazine in 1996. 
David Downton makes the distinction between good fashion and good fashion illustrations and how one can be translated into another. One of the most important things, he says, is the 'sense of body in the clothes; after that: proportion, colour and detail.'<http://www.daviddownton.com/interview.html>His lavish and feminine illustrations are usually drawn from photographs -or live models if it is portraiture- and he is appreciative of fashion illustrators: 'Gruau for his graphic genius, Vertes for his humour, Bouché for his lightness of touch and Eric for his draughtsmanship'.<http://www.daviddownton.com/interview.html
Downton's medium of choice is watercolour or gouache when applied over small areas. To obtain more 'flat saturated colour[s]' he uses paper collage with an acetate overlay of lines and shades drawn using black indian ink.  <http://www.daviddownton.com/interview.html> What makes Downton's artworks unique are this realistic yet expressive renderings of the subject, simplicity and effortlessness, his use of fluid line, and sometimes the scratchy dry brush detail. His drawings are spontaneous, free and expressive. Downton's signature illustration style feature delicate lines and an elimination of detail. He describes the working process towards achieving this as:
 ‘the hardest and the most interesting thing. In order to leave something out, first you have to put it in, or at least understand how every thing works. I do dozens of drawings on to layout paper taking the best from each one as I go. When the drawing looks right I start to eliminate, to de-construct if you like. I keep working until it looks spontaneous.' <http://www.daviddownton.com/interview.html>
His fashion illustrations also aim to convey a 'controlled spontaneity' (Downton, 2010). In the process of obtaining this spontaneity and the impression of effortlessness, Downton draws dozens of drawings before he arrives at one ideal drawing.
I greatly admire David Downton's work for its look of sheer effortlessness, the simplicity of lines, the mark-making of only the most essential lines. In particular, I am drawn to his ability to achieve incredible likeness to his subjects, which no doubt will encourage me to study more portrait drawing. Another aspect that will inform my work is the way he uses watercolour by contrasting the smooth brushstrokes against rough, dry ones. His colour palette is soft, light and tinted, which contributes to the overall dreamy and feminine feel of his drawings. The women in the pictures are always luxurious and graceful, through posture perhaps, but always drawn with particular attention to the expression of the eyes.
Downton, David, 2011, Pourquoi Pas?<http://www.pqpmagazine.com/>
 David Downton Biography<http://www.daviddownton.com/biography.html>
Glenville, Tony, David Downton, <http://www.daviddownton.com/interview.html>
Downton, David., 2010, 'David Downton Interviewed by Tony Genville' , Masters of Fashion Illustration, Lawrence King Publishing, London.
When starting on a piece I use picture reference to get structure and pose. But they take on a life of their own almost as soon as the ink touches the paper.
-Stina Persson in an interview on Poppytalk.blogspot.com

Stina Persson is an illustrator based in Stockholm. Born in 1972, she studied Fine Art in Sweden and Fashion in Florence before moving to New York to major in Illustration at the Pratt Institute. <http://www.culturesinbetween.net/stina-persson/> Since then, she has done illustrations for a variety of corporate clients such as Coca Cola, Absolute Vodka and Bloomingdales; as well as editorials in Vogue Nippon, Harper's Bazaar, Flaunt, and Squint. <http://www.stinapersson.com/info/about/>. Persson has also held any gallery shows such as Immacolata and her Friends, in New York at the Gallery Hanahou, 2007. 
Persson’s creative processes include studying cultures, people, old movies and magazines. Immacolata and her Friends was inspired by her trip to Italy and ‘portray[s] a series of Sicilian women...created for the german magazine, Squint and inspired by the names of the Italian South’ <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html> This inspiration has led her to experiment with brilliant colours, ornamentations and expressions in her work. <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html> Her work has a humanistic aspect to them, in an interview with poppytalk.blogspot.com she tells of giving names to the women in her portraits: ‘Women wearing names like Immacolata, Crocefissa, Annunziata -- all southern names, all sweet to the point of sickliness -- simply needed to have their portraits painted. ‘ <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html> The process of creating her pictures usually begin with picture references, whereby she is able to illustrate the structure and pose. Using this as a starting point, the illustrations ‘take on a life of their own almost as soon as the ink touches the paper.’ <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html>
Vintage paraphernalia from the 50s, 60s and 70s found in thirft shops, flea markets and through her travels form much of her inspiration.  She is also inspired by old magazines, movies and photographers Steven Meisel, Ellen von Unwerth and Paolo Rovers. Stina Persson credits moving into an art studio with her illustrator friends Sara Singh, Tina Berning and Cecilia Carlstedt as a good decision, and she is continually inspired by them. <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html> Persson is also influenced by other artists or teachers Meri Bourgard Egon Schiele, Oskar Kokoschka, Alberto Giacometti, Rene Gruau and Jenny Seville
Watercolour, ink and mixed media are Persson’s usual repertoire of materials. In one instance, she began experimenting with glossy tissue paper as collage on paper alongside ink after finding a 1970s discontinued line of tissue paper in a local store. Since then, she has used unconventional materials such as parchment cake rounds as Sicilian lace head pieces and ‘everything from golden foil to mexican "papel picado" to give these dark girls some color and to add another dimension.’  <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html>
One aspect of Stina Persson’s work that inspires me is the dynamic feel she produces in her illustrations through the way she uses watercolours. She pays particular emphasis on choosing the right colours which are vibrant, exciting and feminine. She also plays cleverly with negative and positive spaces, adding interesting objects into her pictures which form part of the background as well as textiles on the garments of her figures. Stina Persson’s drawings render faces realistically and in emotive poses which altogether produces a striking, bold and expressive image. 
Cultures in Between<http://www.culturesinbetween.net/stina-persson/> accessed 2 April 2012
Stina Persson, <http://www.stinapersson.com/info/about/> accessed 2 April 2012
Jan, 2007, Interview with Stina Persson, <http://poppytalk.blogspot.com.au/2007/05/interview-with-stina-persson.html>accessed 2 April 2012

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