Monday, March 26, 2012

StyleLikeU portraits

Over a year ago i was commissioned by StyleLikeU to create some portraits of their style muses, and seeing as that site is one major source of inspiration for me, i jumped at the chance. Delving into the interview archives is well worth it... but be warned - you'll be glued to your computer all day long. The vast amount of splendid personalities, living spaces (and of course shoes and dresses) has me captivated and in love and utterly excited about exploring my own obsessions and frivolities and living in a way that makes me entirely content. If that means walking down the street in dresses puffed out with tens of layers of crinoline or cinching your waist in with satin corsets till you look like Vampira, then so be it.

I have been keeping these illustrations tucked away for far too long - the plan was for them to be featured on the site, along with an interview, as part of a collaboration series with selected illustrators - but then the site was refurbished and i suppose it was forgotten about.  I'm quite pleased with how they turned out, so i'll just share them here instead. 

 -Tell us about the hows and whys of your becoming an artist, where you
were trained and when you realized you were going to become an
As a kid I was given heaps of illustrated storybooks and was encouraged to be creative so for fun i would draw princesses and mermaids, which then evolved into portraits of the spice girls and my friends as rockstars as i got older. During early Highschool I began to draw alot in an attempt to cure loneliness and then it started becoming an obsession, so i gradually worked my way through a manner of mediums - texta, acrylics, ink pens, gouache, collage - until i finally settled on pencil and watercolour when i was about 17. During this time i'd been putting my art on the internet (livejournal!) which helped me to gain some critical feedback, make some new friends and be inspired by other people my age who were keen on painting. Most importantly, the internet began to offer me possibilities to utilise my artwork and i realised that it could become something more than a hobby. After spending my graduating year with my nose in a sketchbook i went on to study fine art at university in Sydney. I had extremely high hopes for art school and for some reason never felt at home, so i dropped out after my first year.
For the past two years I've been working out of my bedroom, trying to be my own boss and seeing where this illustrated road will take me. At 21 I've still got a way to go, so it's nice to see my art continually evolve and to have people appreciate it.

If there's a 'main idea' to your art, what is it?
I've got an obsession with girls, glamour, femininity, loneliness, which is subject matter i can't seem to stray from. I think the main idea is to explore the world which is inside my head, (what it is to be a girl) and to create characters and situations on paper that previously only existed in dreams. It's comforting to be able to make small pieces of your brain into tangible images which you can then inspect and enjoy.

What's your process like? Tell us what goes into a piece, from start
to finish.
First i need to have some music in the background. Right now I'm obsessed with Anna Calvi, so this month it's been her album. I sit at my desk under the window and start to draw a vague outline of the image i've got in my head (I like to work with pacer lead pencils on smooth cotton paper). Usually I have to erase parts a bunch of times until the outline looks right. This can take a while. Then depending on the thickness of the paper i'll soak and stretch it to avoid warping. Next comes the watercolour paint which i apply in washes. Then i'll add detail and pattern with goauche and small brushes, and outline details with pencil again. And then i'll probably file the painting away. Someday they'll all go up on the walls, when i have my own house!

What are the most important details to capture about your subjects,
the thing you most try to convey to the viewer?
I try to capture a unique personality for each person i draw, so it's like you're peeking at them during a certain part of their life. If they make the viewer take the time to imagine more about the backstory of the character then that's great.

Who are your influences, as an artist?
 J.W. Waterhouse, Ida Rentoul Outhwaite, John Willie, Enoch Bolles, Coby Whitmore, Norman Rockwell, Klimt, Lempicka.

And outside art -- the film, music, and pop culture that's helped
shape your work?
I'm obsessed with 1940's-50's film and watch all the black and white movies on tv, which has really fed my obsession with the golden years of hollywood. Most of the books i read are about that era/those personalities too. The best being 'Marlene Dietrich by her daughter Maria Riva.' - The overindulgence, the scandal and the creative genius both astounds and fascinates me.
As a kid my favourite video to watch when bored on a rainy weekend was 'To Wong Foo, Thanks for everything, Julie Newmar.' - Which stars Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes and John Leguizamo as three drag queens who get stuck in middle america when their car breaks down on their way to a drag queen competition in Vegas. It's still one of my absolute favourite movies because the storyline is so endearing and you should just see the retro outfits everyone wears!
I'm also fond of Winona Ryder, David Lynch, Bettie Page, Marilyn Monroe conspiracies, the x-files and the supernatural. 

Tell us what was unique about drawing the SLU muses. What was the
most memorable thing about the portraits you did?
Going through the archives to choose only seven people was a tough job!
It was a unique experience because i had the chance to combine my illustrative style with the very well defined personal style of another person. The muses inspired me greatly and i found myself wishing i could befriend them all. 
The most memorable thing was just going through the archives and feeling invigorated and ready to explore the world because such interesting and talented people are out there.

You have the opportunity to draw any human being who has ever lived,
at any time in their lives. Who do you choose as your subject, and at
what point in their life? Why?
I'd like to draw a young Fred Astaire - his image is so iconic and something about his voice, movement and demeanour makes me unconditionally happy. I'd like to put him in a nice black tuxedo and shiny shoes, smiling wryly, standing on the stage waiting to entertain. 


  1. this is totally beautiful! As an avid SLU stalker, it's so cool to be able to put the drawn faces to the actual ones!

  2. Amazing work! You really are talented at capturing personalities!

  3. Your work is really beautiful, and I loved reading about the way you do it! x

  4. The portrait titled "Brittany Shaw" is so beautiful it actually makes me want to cry


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