Subject Title: Are Illustrators the New Fashion Bloggers?

An email correspondence re: the new old media.


On Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 11:36 AM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Are illustrators the new bloggers?

On Aug 12, 2015, at 11:43 AM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

Why do you ask that? Because they have these seemingly idyllic, “kind of easy” non-corporate jobs that make you feel like, uh I can do that — or because they’re the new thing to talk about?

On Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 10:00 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Well, a new one pops up and seems to make headline news on like, a weekly basis. For what it’s worth, though, that job does NOT seem easy. Maybe to you because you can draw but I can barely render a circle. You’re not wrong, though. There’s a sense of “I can do that too!” — and with so many popping up, a stick figure interpretation of Gumby isn’t really enough to get you followed, right? If that’s even the impetus. But it’s another textbook case of Darwinism stepping in, proving that if you can’t turn a brussel sprout into a dress, you might not survive.

On Aug 12, 2015, at 11:28 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

I’ve thought about fashion illustration as something I might want to do long term, but it seemed dated, or like not a real-life job. Everything’s done on Photoshop and computers now. That old school world of fashion illustrating had its heyday, you know? Or so I thought. I never imagined it as a sustainable career. So it’s actually pretty exciting to see new illustrators bubbling to the surface. In no way do I think it’s easy or as idyllic as it sounds — what ever is?

BUT. It does seem like such a romantic job.

You’re right, though. A new one seems to pop up every week. Chicken/egg here, but do you think they’ve always been around and Instagram is just giving them an easier platform to share their work or is Instagram encouraging new illustrators?

Remember that cool pointy boob drawing Inès de La Fressange taught you how to do?

On Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 5:55 AM, Leandra Medine wrote:

I think the line of questioning there is probably a little off. It’s more like: are these actually careers or are they pet projects — which is how illustrating could be compared to what blogging 1.0 looked like.

In 2012, the Internet was all: “egalité!” But fashion was like: “Who are these girls and why are they at fashion week?” I don’t think we knew why we were at fashion week, but we went with it, and did what we could to turn our websites into careers. Maybe in 2015, mobile is all: “Show me your pen! It’s the irreverent thing to do,” and Instagram is all: “Who do these pens belong to and how do the owners pay their rent/why am I struggling to pay mine?”

People who exercise don’t do it as a full time job, right? It’s a cathartic release, something they do for themselves. Does that make sense?

On Thu, Aug 13, 2015 at 6:53 PM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

I think the difference is that the illustration world does NOT have old guard/new guard tension like fashion does.

It seems like an all-inclusive community as opposed to: damn these kids and their crazy web logs to showcase their work. If anything, the emerging illustrators (see: Donald Drawberton) are just paving the way for this to be a career once again.

I keep thinking back to that convo w. Cathy Horyn about the fashion illustrator Joe Eula. During his heyday, fashion illustrators (the big ones) were as celeb-y as the designers because they captured clothes in a way that photography could not.

Then modern photography killed the illustrat-star.

On Aug 13, 2015, at 6:58 PM, Leandra Medine wrote:

And now maybe with Instagram killing “modern photography” and proposing a more crude version of it (to be fair I don’t actually think Instagram is killing photography, I think photographers who are too precious about their photos/putting them out in square format and whatever are hurting themselves), the illustrator gets to rise to the top again.

I really like your point about their place in fashion and also believe this is so much of an industry that operates on “feel” — and often these illustrators release a feeling in us that is energizing, that excites us…but are they replacing anything? As in, the big fear with new vs. old media was that the digital entities would cancel out the print ones — is there an element of that with the resuscitation of illustrators? What would they cancel out?

On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 8:54 AM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

Maybe they’re replacing selfies, or just the constant stream of “me, me, me” on Instagram…

When you display your art, you are saying, “Look what I did! This is who I am, this is what I think/feel/see.” But it’s easier to roll your eyes at a selfie, or an “outfit of the day,” because it seems self-indulgent or self-obsessed.

A drawing, however, is enjoyable, relatable, shareable and you can interact with it. It’s still kind of a selfie — it can feel just as vulnerable to share. But it breaks up the pattern.

Maybe this only makes sense in my head…

On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 10:24 AM, Leandra Medine wrote:

Wait a second. I think this presents the existential question of whether everything we lend our likeness to is kind of a selfie? All the stuff that we project, especially through the social media feeds we cultivate to create a full picture of who we are…that’s all based on mood, biases, interests, etc. Maybe we’ve been indulging in selfies (just not as the hyper-literal face-in-camera-now-show-me-the-filters) since long before Steve Jobs enabled the turn around function on our iPhone lenses. Maybe narcissism is just a fancy term we’ve been using to define a basic tenet — self involvement to survive — of being human.

On Fri, Aug 14, 2015 at 10:42 AM, Amelia Diamond wrote:

Case in point: Cave drawings.

Illustrated by Joseph Amar


Get more Pop Culture ?
  • I didn’t realize how many have popped up/I follow until I read this title, and one of my favorites, Sunflower Man, was at almost every show that I was at during NYFWM live illustrating during the shows, which is a lot harder than snapping a photo for Instagram. Cause I’m on the Leandra spectrum of barely being able to draw a circle.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent

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  • Andrea Raymer

    I feel like I just found a new career path.

    • Leandra Medine

      Plzzzzzz keep us updated

  • Aydan

    I love illustrations, especially fashion ones. There always seems to be an added sense of humor, which with the exception of Leandra (and maybe a couple others) seems to be lacking in a lot of fashion bloggers posts! Plus, the pure talent of all these illustrators is just AMAZING!!

  • To me it often feels as if I am looking at one collective enormous fashion Instagram or blog of streetstyles and ootds, a still with bag or jeans shorts here, some food there. All very well photographed and put together, I love to see it. But it gets kind of blurry, if there’s not a strong voice behind it. Illustration is a way to refocus my eyes, even if it’s the same subject. Because of the medium it’s very different by nature.

  • This is so fun- I hadn’t seen your other article about illustrators on Instagram either!
    I occasionally do fashion illustration, but I’m more interested in how clothing is a shorthand for the characters in my paintings inner lives, which is also how I approach dressing. I like to think that when someone looks at me they can tell everything they really need to know about me just from how I look. As an introvert I find that kind of easy symbolism comforting bc it relieves me a little of explaining myself 🙂

    • Leandra Medine

      I can totally sympathize with this, even as an extrovert – I know it sounds sort of ridiculous, especially because I am a writer but I tend to feel like I have a hard time articulating myself but I think what I really mean is that I’m very wordy. I can’t execute my thoughts with precision, so I rely on clothes to articulate short, choppy but beautifully crafted sentences for me. Anyway, I noticed a few seasons ago at Fashion Week that Grace Coddington takes notes in illustrations, which I found fascinating because on the page, they looked like just silhouettes to me but to her were obviously some form of a language that only she can speak and write, that probably speaks to those inner lives you’re talking about.

      • ” I can’t execute my thoughts with precision, so I rely on clothes to articulate short, choppy but beautifully crafted sentences for me. ” -That makes a lot of sense and it’s really interesting that that visual shorthand works so well for extroverts too!
        Omgosh- I would love to peek at Grace Coddinton’s notes. I fell in love with her while watching “The September Issue.”

  • Alba B.

    Dear Leandra,

    the freedom of expression is endless and illustration (drawing and painting) and words are two evident proofs of tools that demonstrate that they can be shaped, updated, and still survive different eras of life and history.

    To be more clear on my thoughts to your post I wrote you an open letter here

    I would really appreciate your thought.

    • Leandra Medine

      Can’t wait to read this Alba!

      • Oh my god ? So honored. Thanks in advance.

  • Meagan @TravelWriteDraw

    When I moved to NYC 6 years ago to study fashion illustration at FIT, it was still relatively under the radar. Instagram didn’t exist. There were just a handful of illustrators making a splash with their illustration blogs like Garance Dore and Danny Roberts. I didn’t know whether I would be able to make a career of it, but I knew i had to try. There was nothing in the world I wanted to do more than draw fashion. Fast forward 3 years and Instagram has become the new launching pad for talent discovery, from models, to photographers, and now illustrators. For some it is a hobby, for others it is a full-time career. Some of us have studied the craft, others are self taught. Whatever the case is, what was old is now new again, with a new canvas, and a new role in the industry. I don’t think this is about fashion illustrators replacing fashion bloggers. It’s about illustrators using instagram, like anyone else, to help get discovered and turn their passion into a full-time profession…

    Meagan @TravelWriteDraw

    • Alba B.

      Totally agree Meagan, and I am so happy I found you also here. I am one of your followers since a while and I really like your work. Keep going!

  • Lua Jane

    And then there is a legend, Garance Dore, that is both, an illustrator and a fashion blogger. I think I remember reading she started as an illustrator and unexpectedly grew into very relevant fashion blogger over time. I am not sure what I think about that being a trend and a new one popping out on instagram every two minutes, but I do believe that, just like with bloggers there soon will be clear who is good enough to be relevant and influential in a long run. And in the mean time we get to enjoy a substantial amound of good fashion related art, I have huge appreciation for.

    • Meagan @TravelWriteDraw

      That is so true! It is bubbling over at the moment but who knows where this will go…exciting times ahead

  • I actually do Illustrate and I know the market is quite saturated but it wasn’t until I read this that I thought illustrators are popping up over the place. I guess I assumed that as I was in that world, they were just popular around me. Hmm, this is a little encouraging maybe. I think there is a resurgence to everything, things come and go. I think technology has both brought about an interest in other forms of visual communication and ways to showcase it.

  • BK

    To me, the appeal of fashion illustrators lies in the extra effort they make to communicate with their audience about fashion. Consider the dime-a-dozen fashion bloggers out there (not you, Leandra, of course) who just post photo after photo of themselves in nice clothes, looking pretty in front of a charmingly run-down brick wall or whatever. That’s all they post. Just them, nothing else to consider, no context. There’s no thought process behind it and nothing extra to take away from the experience of looking at the photo. An illustration, however, has that pretty factor and the instant gratification of a nice photo, but its entire existence is only due to the artist’s effort – their interpretation of fashion and the work they put in to communicate it with an audience. In order to appreciate the picture the audience has to appreciate that extra effort made by the illustrator, as well as their talent and intelligence. It’s fashion blogging made fulfilling.

  • NA

    I believe there is a nostalgia for art done by hand that pulls at the heart strings of people today. Gen X and Y were raised by parents from the pre-tech era, but are also a huge demographic of the tech market. The DIY culture is the lust for the old of the Baby Boomer generation, while publicizing it with new technology in the palm of your hand. A human touch makes something feel less sterile and genuine, whether that be a drawing in an app or hand painted textiles in a fashion line. The fact that globalization is being embraced by artists, only further stresses how in order to be a successful business in today’s climate you must be willing to sell yourself/ brand/ goods all of the time.

  • Jessie Kanelos Weiner

    This was an interesting read as a professional illustrator. Although my work leans more towards food and lifestyle, I’ve tried wiggling my way into Fashion Week. Much like the photo-centic fashion bloggers, there are always a good handfull of standout illustrators who shine for their honest voices, good taste and savoir-faire. And the rest is just a whole lot of internet. Nonetheless, I am super excited that illustrators are now on the same playing field. But much like professional photographers, committing to a being a full-time bonafide illustrator takes a lot of chutzpah, perserverance, commitment and patience. And I think the real question posed in this piece is “how can we find artistic worth when we are so fully loaded with “content”?”

  • natasha david

    YES Leandra & Amelia! I feel like my Instagram following list is like the new personality quiz – I’m 30% health/fitness bloggers, 30% fashion designers/models and probably 40% illustrators and photographers… the illustrators are growing in numbers by the day – partly because of the increasing appearance of illustrations accompanying editorials now (thanks MR team 🙂 )

    Personally, I love that Instagram lets you create the illusion of being a yogi/illustrator/master chef while you’re actually going around being a ‘normal’ 9 to 5iver the rest of the time (but with a side of drawing pretty things while eating raw homemade chocolates in a full lotus pose..)

  • I wouldn’t say I’m a fashionillustrator – I’m just a girl who loves to draw fashion in her own way and who loves to share her Styles with others, like the traditional fashionbloggers. For me Illustrating is just a hobby, but of cause I have the same dream like the full-time-Illustrators to becoming valued. There ist nothing nicer than someone who likes my drawings!

    In my Opinion, Fashionblogger and -Illustrator are not competitors – they complement each other and this is the right way!

    Lessa | Sketchoman

  • So I’m late to the conversation… Loved this article! If art is the reflection of an era. Illustrations are the visual reflection of daily humor, trends, and social commentary…. Love the creative misfits are having there day in the sun!

  • I use my Instagram account to post my illustrations. The instant feedback I was able to get was really motivating, especially for the insecure artist like myself. It forced me to practice. In the 1.5 years that I’ve used the account, I’ve made more art than I had in the previous 10. I get jittery if I go too long without posting something for fear of running dry.

  • Elisabeth Facer

    I like Leandra’s last point. It’s simply human nature to involve yourself in everything you do. We are naturally selfish/self involved, (give or take a few Mary Poppins) and that is projected through everything we do wether it’s on purpose or not. Fashion illustration in my opinion is much better than photography. It not only shows the clothes, but it usually portrays the emotions the illustrator felt and the energy surrounding the illustrator when it was drawn. I think a fashion illustration can make a connection on a deeper level than a #ootd.

  • tontytonty
  • Bob Cut Mag

    I think it’s an interesting concept, and same with photography or any modern art career is that there are people who train, go to school, study under masters and then there are people who take one great image or drawing which in turn gets them a giant amount of likes. I’m not Lust List but it’s a pretty dawning idea.


    Nice fashion art.

  • Before being an illustrator I wasn’t sure about taking illustration and designing as a full-time job. I felt that it’s not a real job and that people are not that interested at purchasing illustrations. But when I tried it I absolutely loved it. And nowadays we see more and more illustrators are emerging and their work is amazing! I enjoy searching and looking at others drawings and sketches especially on instagram.

    Anwaar Saleh: