Pour cette première interview, il était normal de commencer avec celle qui m’a donné l’envie de créer cette rubrique. Il s’agit de l’illustratrice de mode Jennifer Lilya : son travail est très prisée à New York ! Ses clients sont principalement des magazines de mode, des marques de luxe ou personnalités … Elle, Timex, Katy Perry, etc..
Je l’ai rencontré sur le web via le réseau Facebook il ya quelques mois,.. ses pretty pictures sont juste des pépites… ! On a pas mal échangé par mail, elle dans son studio de création à Brooklyn, moi dans mon appart du 17ème. Et au fil des conversations, je me suis dit que ça serait sympa de vous faire partager cette rencontre au travers d’une interview. Elle a accepté,… car en plus d’être talentueuse, elle est adorable !
« Ever since I was a little girl, I absolutely adored drawing fashionable women. I loved drawing my Barbie dolls & coloring in my Fashion Plates ! I was always sketching & doodling away until I was old enough to go to FIT for Fashion Illustration. »
What does your work consist in exactly ?
« For years & years now, I’ve only worked with acrylic paint & black ink on paper. That may evolve in the years to come, but I love that medium. I don’t even like using pencils to sketch – it has to be paint- it gives me movement & freedom in my art. »
Can you describe me your creative process ?
« Well, I wake up really, really early to paint almost every day. I love my jobs, so each day is a new adventure. I make a cup of tea, check my email, my facebook fan page, then I get my project list in order. I’ll start with my nearest deadline or inspiration, using client photos or reference I’ve collected. I trim down the 22” x 30” paper I like to use (Stonehenge 90lb) to sizes suitable to what I need- usually 10” x 17”. I’ll then fill my palette with my favorite acrylic colors & black ink. »
Do you use any specific techniques in your work ?
« I start with really loose washes of Burnt Sienna paint to capture the essence of what I need to draw. I add a few more layers to build up the shapes, then I go in with a really light, almost invisible, ink line to draw my girls. I work on the face first- starting with her eyes & hair, then I’ll work my way down the body. I love adding layer upon layer to create vibrant colors & patterns. To finish the drawing I’ll go in with strong black ink lines to bring it all together, then I’ll add one of my fun tag lines to title to piece. I also work on a few pieces at once- it takes so long for the paint to dry that I have to rotate what I’m working on- I call it my artsy assembly line. »
Did you remember the first one illustration ?
« I’m not sure I remember my very first one, but luckily my mom saved a bunch of my early work! I have the typical grade school drawings of animals & whatnot, but the ones I find most interesting are from when I was a pre-teen in the early 80s….when music & pop culture really started to influence me. I have some funny and awesome drawings of Boy George, Prince & Madonna, as well as the models/fashion of that time period. That’s when I remember really wanting to “become an artist”. Maybe I’ll post them on my facebook page one day for fun. »
« It’s hard to choose, but I really like the double page spread I did for ELLE/Bright Star a few years ago. The art director was great to work with –she was able to highlight a few facets of my work- from rough sketches, runway girls, accessories & the lettering I love to do. It sums me up in one ad. Love it ! »
What are your main influences and inspirations in your work ?
« I’ve always been inspired by Antonio & Rene Gruau. Their work is sheer perfection- every line is important. I strive for that in what I do. I’m influenced & inspired by each new job I get- I immerse myself in what the client needs & then try to marry their requests with my style. »
You only draw women’s illustration & accessories, why not men ?
« Well, I do draw men, just not a lot. I’m most inspired by gorgeous women & artistic shapes. Don’t get me wrong- it’s easy to be inspired by a beautiful man in a well-tailored suit, but give me a dress & some jewelry to draw any day! I’m a girly-girl in that aspect- it’s like playing dress-up on paper. Women have such innately beautiful line quality in the shape & curves of their bodies that makes them so easy & fun to draw. »
How do you promote your fashion illustrations?
« The online list at this point is almost endless. Here are a few in order of their importance : I promote new work and get most of my new clients through my major sites :
I’m also on too many portfolio gallery sites to list (You can do a google search to see them all). My favorite by far is my facebook fan page though- I’ve gotten tons of work through it over the past few years & met the most amazing people. I love the interaction I have with people who enjoy my work. It makes me all giggly & happy to think about – I wake up every day to the most awesome compliments & emails from people all over the world. How can you not be inspired by that ? I also promote my work by doing mailings & email blasts to people in the industry. I like Agency Access for that. »
Who are your favorite models ? fashion designers ? artists and photographers ?
« I love Erin Wasson. Love her! I also adore Raquel Zimmermann, Agyness Deyn, Karlie Kloss, Arizona Muse, but that list is endless!My favorite fashion designers: Karl Lagerfeld‘s endless creativity, classic Yves St. Laurent, Betsey Johnson & Anna Sui‘s rock/pop influenced looks, D&G fierceness and the sassy spark of Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton.I mentioned Antonio & Rene Gruau earlier, but I also love David Downton, Viramontes, Basquiat, Warhol’s whimsical fashion illustrations, Mucha. Anything poppy, fun & figurative will catch my eye. As for photography- Mapplethorpe & Avedon, hands-down. »
You worked for Katy Perry ? Can you tell us more about this experience?
« Yes, I worked with her stylist, Johnny Wujek, on her performance costumes for the 2010 American Music Awards & Pre-Grammy shows. Johnny had costume concept ideas, but needed somebody to put them on paper & bring them to life. He sent me his ideas & I sketched up a few different versions of each look, some black & white, a few full-color. It was pretty fun seeing what I did on paper & then a few days later watching what the team of seamstresses came up with on TV. It’s a really quick, crazy process- I started rough sketches on a Monday, did the final art on that Friday & watched the performance that Sunday. Kudos to Katy’s team for working on such tight deadlines with amazing results ! »
« Right now I’m working on a long-term project helping to design a line of separates with some wonderful people. They contacted me for illustration work, but it turned into something much bigger. I’ve worked out the designs with them, now I’m starting on the illustrations that will be used for their ads & website. Super fun !
I’m also working with a boutique in Italy- Mimma Ninni- doing some art for a store event this Spring, working with a company that wants to use my art for prints & posters and working with indie designers & a few companies that want my illustration style for their sites & logos. I get a few job inquiries every week & try to fit in as many as I can- I love what I do & love everything that I’m involved in.
You can also keep up with my new work & what I’m up to on my facebook fan page. I post projects as I do them or after they’ve been published for their intended use. I’ve got a nice backlog of art I’ve been working on recently-as soon as it’s published, I’ll post it on my page- it’s going to make for a delightfully busy Spring ! xoxo »
J’espère que vous avez aimé, moi je suis conquise ! Allez … juste pour le plaisir, Katy Perry sur la scène des American Music Awards en 2010 dans cette fameuse tenue (2 en 1) rouge flamboyante ! Juste sublime…
AMA 2010 : Katy Perry Fireworks
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Jennifer Lilya en plein travail, dans son atelier à Brooklyn …