My little tribute posts to the great fashion illustrators who influence and inspire me never seem to get a great response, and yet I keep posting them. The very least I can do as a burgeoning illustrator is to recognize and celebrate the greats who came before me, and leave a mark on the internet for all those who might seek to learn a little more about these imagemakers who might otherwise remain obscure.
As an aspiring Canadian fashion illustrator, I have found that the legacy of the profession in this country is particularly spare, but having kept my eyes open for clues over the past five years, I have discovered some wonderful fashion illustrators with remarkable careers and diverse styles.
Virginia Johnson is a textile designer and illustrator who has her own storefront here in Toronto. Her illustrations are best known for adorning Kate Spade’s series of books. Johnson has a delicate, spare line and a brush full of vibrant watercolours which complement Spade’s style marvelously.
Maurice Vellekoop‘s illustrations and comics feature a gently wry social scenery. His style is clean and classic and familiar. Famously commissioned by Vogue to sketch at the Paris shows (I believe it was in the late 90s), Vellekoop is Canada’s most well-known fashion illustrator. Vellekoop has done the gamut of lifestyle illustration from the conventionally mundane to the extravagantly gay.
I discovered Frederick Watson via the gorgeous Joelle of Mad Glam, I recognized his work and had no idea that he was based here in Ontario. Although he paints on a grand scale, I especially loved the small-scale sketches which display that incredible speed and elegance that I am only beginning to understand, never mind acquire.
Marcos Chin is a younger illustrator whose work you will recognize if you have ever taken a subway ride in Toronto – his Lavalife campaign is well worth the rapt attention of a captive audience. Like Vellekoop, Chin is mainly a lifestyle illustrator, yet the clothing details and exaggerated figures definitely captures a sense of fashion.
Throughout my search for Canadian fashion illustration, I have discovered that there is very little written specifically about the subject. The only essay I have read is written by Katherine Bosnitch, one of my illustration teachers from fashion school and an accomplished fashion illustrator in her own right. Bosnitch studied a series of wonderful promotional illustrations for Eaton’s published in the Montreal Gazette in the 1950s and 1960s. The essay is included among several other rare examples of Canadian fashion analysis in Fashion: A Canadian Perspective.
Are there any Canadian Fashion Illustrators I am missing? I would love to learn about them, meet them, and see their work.