Fashion illustration is a tricky art form. Where we often think of illustration as capturing a likeness of an object or subject, fashion illustration requires a little more from the artist, especially with regard to capturing movement. A large part of the appeal of a runway show is seeing the garments in the flesh: how they sit on the model, how they move, and of course the feeling that they evoke in the audience.
For a fashion illustrator, these are all integral parts of their subjects that they need to convey through their medium in order to illicit a response from their audience. Reliving the swish of a dress through strokes of a pen, or the glint of light off sequins with shading, or the feeling you get from observing something truly beautiful with careful drops of colour.
It is not just a matter of putting pen to paper.
With a background in Fine Arts, Printmaking studying at the Brighton Bay Art, Design & Photography Program before two years at the Victorian College of the Arts, and later completing a brief course in Fashion Drawing and Design at RMIT Johanna brings years of drawing experience and a love of creative fashion to her work.
With an impressive clientele including online journal This is Canberra and science/fashion blog Entropy of Style, Johanna is also a contributor to Leiden Magazine, and has held several exhibitions of her illustrations and prints over the years.
You can imagine just how delighted I was then to be offered to have one of my previous Fashfest outfits illustrated by Johanna for this year’s event.
The piece that Johanna illustrated was what I wore to the first night of Fashfest 2014, and it’s a sequined hoodie by Slick It Up. I’m so in love with this illustration, not only because I am insanely vain, but because of the way that Johanna has brought the texture of the piece to life.
Returning to the Fashfest in 2016 as the official illustrator, I was eager to get in touch with Johanna to find out what we can expect to be seeing from her this year, what she’s learned about fashion from her illustrations, and which designer’s collections she is most looking forward to this year.
What does being the official illustrator of Fashfest 2016 mean, and what will we be seeing from you at this year’s event?
Illustrating for Fashfest is a dream come true! At University I always felt like drawing pictures of people in pretty clothes was looked down on, being far too mainstream for someone that have been an ‘edgy’ art student. Coming back a couple of years ago however I wasn’t under any obligation to impress anyone so I could just spend my time drawing what I wanted, which was always people. I really love creative fashion, and my passion is in supporting emerging talent- which Fashfest lives and breathes. This year I will be lucky enough to exhibit a collection of illustrations of Fashfest designers past and present at the Convention Centre, and you can see me illustrating live before and after each show!
What has illustration taught you about fashion?
It has really given me the opportunity to develop my own style, but within that I need to pay a lot of attention to the line and fold of fabrics. My style is quite bold, so working out how best to draw a delicate silk top in solid black pen can be a challenge.
A lot of your work seems to be in pen (which is a favourite medium of mine); but you always seem to be working new bits and pieces in to your works like water colour. What is your favourite medium to illustrate in?
I do love to draw in fineliner, because it is so bold and smooth to use. The pens I use are also water soluble so if I have an image that I want to have a more ethereal look I just need to get out a brush. I don’t mind a bit of sparkle now and then too, so I’m always on the lookout for an interesting new pen or ink. Oddly I never used to draw with pen at all- it always seemed too final! But drawing for my own entertainment I started experiment with it and now I use almost nothing else. It does mean if a drawing doesn’t work out that it can’t often be salvaged, but I quite enjoy only ever drawing something once.
Of course you had to know that this question was coming, but which designer’s collections are you most excited for at Fashfest this year?
This year I’m really excited to see the latest collection from Cameron & James, with not just cool designs but ethical practice too; and the amazingly beautiful work from Sovata (just in time for racing season).