Interview by Ursula Lake
Illustrations by Rosie McGuinness.
Make catches up with fashion illustrator Rosie McGuinness, to discuss her work, creative process and inspiration
Q. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background and or training.
A. I studied womenswear design, but it quickly became apparent that I didn’t have the skills or patience for the technical side of things, so I concentrated on drawing. After graduating, I continued to draw, ran a life drawing class with a friend, and, after a few years of working in pubs and doing various ad-hoc ‘fashion’ jobs, I developed my practice as an illustrator.
Q. You have worked on some great projects and collaborations, what was your ‘big break’?
A. I think that for most current illustrators, and certainly for me, rather than having a big break, you work project-to-project, piece-to-piece, and the momentum gradually builds. Instagram has been invaluable in sharing my work, gaining commissions, and in finding other artists and illustrators that I admire, it creates a good network.
Q. Do you have a favourite medium to work with?
A. I work by hand in pen, inks, gouache and watercolours. I use a particular black block printing ink, for both line and washes, which is very black and very matte when dry.
Q. There seems to be a ‘Rosie McGuinness’ type of girl in your illustrations. Do you draw from life, or do you have an imaginary muse? How does your creative process work?
A. Muse is maybe too specific, but the female figure is what I return to the most. I think that rather than the woman always being the same woman, it is the attitude through the pose, posture, style, colours, expression, etc that is continuous. I like to draw a ‘cool’, confident woman, at ease. I draw from life, and from photographs and I have a vast amount of saved images and screen grabs, of an outfit I might like, a pose, a fabric, pattern etc, and I like to combine aspects of these, along with studies from life drawing classes which I regularly attend.
Q. Who are your influences artistically?
A. There are too many to list here, but artists whose work I will forever admire greatly; Alice Neel, DavidHockney, Matisse…
Q. You have illustrated the work of great designers, do you have a favourite?
A. Rather than having favourite designers to draw from, I like to combine different elements that I have seen and admired, or just generally like, into a drawing, say, the blue jeans the subject is wearing, maybe change the shade of blue, then apply a pattern either made-up or that I have seen elsewhere to the top, or just a block of colour that I think would work well with the jeans, some jewellery, to add detail and highlights of colour, a hat, some sunglasses, maybe. I am far more inspired by a style, than a designer look.
I loved Phoebe Philo at Céline. She designed things with great lines and used interesting textures to draw, with a great attitude to the clothes. The textiles of Celia Birtwell are a favourite, and Margaret Howell for understated style and good design.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. Keep working, keep drawing, I plan to work on some larger pieces, more painting.
Q. And what makes you proud to be British?
Music, art, people, pubs.
Instagram - @rosiemcguinness
Rosie’s prints and original works available through Fashion Illustration www.fashionillustrationgallery.com