A fashion illustrator plays a crucial role in the fashion industry. Drawings are responsible for visually communicating designs and ideas.
A fashion illustrator plays a crucial role in the fashion industry. They are responsible for visually communicating the designs and ideas of fashion designers, brands, and publications. Their drawings help bring concepts to life and allow others to understand and visualise a garment or collection’s intended look, style, and details.
An interview with Zeynep Deniz
Additionally, fashion illustrators contribute to the marketing and promotion of fashion brands. Their drawings are often used in advertising campaigns, lookbooks, fashion magazines, and social media platforms to showcase the latest designs and create a visual impact. These illustrations help create a connection between the brand and its target audience, attracting attention and generating interest in the fashion industry.
Furthermore, fashion illustrators bring a unique artistic perspective to the fashion world. Their creativity and ability to capture the essence of fashion trends and styles through their illustrations contribute to the industry’s overall aesthetic and artistic representation.
Unsung heroes who shape the fashion landscape are vital in translating ideas into visual form, aiding in the design process, and promoting fashion brands. They bring creativity, artistic flair, and a unique perspective to the industry, making them an integral part of the fashion world.
1. How did you develop your unique illustration style?
I have been drawing since the age of four. My mother took drawing classes back then. She would ask me to pose for her, and she would create pencil portrait sketches of me. I was so inspired by her that I started drawing as well.
Then there was my aunt, who was also a very talented sketch artist, and I became inspired quickly. I kept drawing all through primary school and high school. After moving to Istanbul to attend the University of Fine Arts to study ceramics, I attended several classes with very talented teachers.
DRAWING FASHION DESIGN
I knew ceramics was not my path, but it was a stepping stone to transfer to study Fashion Design in Italy.
Being a curious and passionate person, I kept researching and drawing, and just by continuing to draw, I got a lot of practice.
Then when I was accepted to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) to do the International Fashion Design Program in Florence, Italy and New York, Fashion became my lifestyle. The most inspiring and precious teachers added to my personal style.
The more I sketched, the more confident and comfortable I became. Instead of comparing myself to other designers or illustrators, I focused on myself, my lines, and my sketches. I only wanted to be better than my previous self, and most importantly, I had so much fun drawing and practising, fun being the focal point.
I am truly grateful to my parents for supporting my dreams and to my instructors at FIT for inspiring me and lighting the fire in me even more. As I look back on my life as a fashion student, I have a big smile on my face and a warm fuzzy feeling in my heart. I feel so lucky..!
How do you stay up-to-date with current fashion trends?
I am a fashion designer who believes in wearing what suits you, what makes you feel good. I believe in sustainable, timeless, ageless, spaceless fashion, so I don’t follow the trends. People should be doing smart shopping and buying durable, practical, and timeless clothes.
Observing what people wear is key; what they do, where they go, and how they live. My greatest source of inspiration comes from nature and animals. They are the jewels of this earth. Trees, flowers, birds, cats, fish, and horses deeply inspire me and profoundly impact my designs.
Can you walk me through your creative process when starting a new illustration?
Sometimes it comes all of a sudden. Even a photo can inspire me, sometimes subconsciously dreaming about the image in my dreams. So there are many different methods for me.
If I’m involved with a collection, I first develop a theme that enlightens me and take it from there, deciding on colours and materials. Truly understanding my client’s profile, price range and other specifications. Brainstorming, visualising and feeling play a part even before I pick up a pencil, marker or pen. Sketching follows as ideas flow until making a selection.
What materials do you prefer to work with when creating fashion illustrations?
I love creating pencil sketches. There is something about the lead and the sound of it on a smooth piece of paper. It personally feels like the fresh smell of bread or the scent of the earth after rain.
After the pencil sketch, I either use markers for colouring or watercolours. Markers are faster, but watercolours are more fun. I always use coloured pencils, markers, watercolours, and art liners. Actually, I like all kinds of materials as long as they look aesthetic and artistic.
How do you incorporate colour and texture into your illustrations to bring them to life?
I have a good sense of colour and colour combinations. Of course, it also helps to learn the theory behind using them and applying colour schemes. When working on an illustration, I try to make it look realistic but not too realistic cause it’s an illustration, not a painting. So giving a sense of a three-dimensional effect is enough. Using light, medium and dark shades of the colour that I’m using and creating an illusion of a light source is the most basic technique. Experimenting with different materials for texture, such as make-up and textured fabrics, are also important to me.
Do you have any favourite fashion designers or brands that inspire your illustrations?
There are so many. I am especially crazy about vintage fashion; Dior, Balenciaga, Madame Gres, Yves Saint Laurent, and many more.
Back then, there was a sense of aesthetics, femininity, naive looks, and purity. Today’s fast fashion ideas and looks do not appeal to me.
How do you ensure your illustrations accurately represent the garments or outfits you are illustrating?
If I’m sketching from my imagination or creating my own design, I know exactly how I want it to look like so there’s no problem 🙂
If I’m illustrating an existing garment, I ensure I have good reference photos. If I’m working with a client, I ensure I get all the info and details I can, ask a lot of questions, and ask for reference photos. It has to be clear to me in my mind. Only then can I start sketching, and along the way, I send photos to my client to ensure we’re on the same page.
Asking questions and creating drawings
Have you ever collaborated with fashion designers or brands to create illustrations for their collections? If so, what was that experience like?
Yes, I have; the experience depends on the client. However, being a very detail-oriented person, I ask many questions in the beginning about the customer profile, the materials they want me to use, colours, fabrics, and accessories. There are many details to consider. If I’m working with professionals like myself, it’s a true pleasure for me since I love what I do.
What challenges do you face as a fashion illustrator, and how do you overcome them?
Promoting myself is not my strong suit. That is the biggest challenge for me. I need a manager who will put together all my work, create a website, a print shop, take videos etc.; then I can reach more people with my work. At the moment, I do everything by myself, and since I have to think about too many things, it overwhelms me, and I don’t feel like I’m using my full potential.
Can you share any tips or advice for aspiring fashion illustrators looking to pursue a career in the industry?
“Always follow your heart”.– Zeynep Deniz
Ever since I was a little child, I always followed my heart, my passions and my creativity. I did what I loved most, and I am so grateful that I did that. I never felt like I had to work. I turned my hobbies and passions into work and had so much fun doing it. So my advice is to follow your heart, go where the joy is, and create your own joy. Create a life full of joy; you will never regret that. Life is supposed to be fun and colourful, and joyful.