The weather outside was rainy and it was bit dark inside the house because of the clouds. Not the perfect situation for a good photo, but nevertheless I decided to try take a picture of the painting I’d just made and post it on Instagram. So, on 20 oktober 2014 I posted my first fashion illustration on the platform that’s now one of my most important marketing channels.
At that time, I didn’t have the intention to make this my job, I just liked drawing and wanted to share it with the digital world out there. I'd been drawing all my life as a hobby. The illustration got about 30 likes, a lot more than my regular pictures, so I decided to post more drawings in the same style. And that is how it all started.
I know a lot of people who are just starting out in fashion illustration, face the same struggles I did 4 years ago (4 years exactly since I posted my first fashion illustration today!), so I will share my story with you. And this is part one.
The first illustration I published on Instagram 4 years ago. My style was different then.
When I’d decided to make more illustrations, I started searching on Google to see who else was doing this and to my surprise I discovered that fashion illustration (so not fashion design, merely the illustration part) is actually a job and has been a job for a long time. People make their living doing this and history has known some very famous fashion illustrators as well, like Renée Gruau.
I’ve always had an interest for costume history and art so I knew a lot of the illustrations and artwork, but the fact that it is still a real job in our current world was news to me.
I started following other artists on Instagram like Megan Hess and Nikki Groom (Miss Magpie Fashion Spy). This started to change my perception of illustration and the thought ‘maybe I can make some money doing this as well….' occurred. On 4 april 2015 I launched my first website and I start drawing bloggers and asked them to share my work with their online audience.
My first assignment came in June 2015 and it was a big one. An event planner I follow on Instagram posted that she was looking for an illustrator to draw an invite to a fashion show. I replied and started working on the assignment the same day. The invite was meant for the show of Tailor and Elbaz (now the brand Maria Tailor) at Amsterdam Fashion Week. I was trilled by this assignment and it got me some exposure. It also ensured I started believing more and more that what I wanted was possible. It thought: if people already think my work is good enough for something like this, let’s see what I can do if I improve it further’ .
The fashion show invite I drew. Again, very different from my current style.
Of course there were also concerns and insecurities. Because my style is very feminine and romantic, I wondered if that was something that brands in The Netherlands (where I live) would be looking for. Most artwork here is more modern and minimalistic. I was afraid my fashion illustrations would be considered too colorful and cute. But I held on to the style I liked and in the end, this turned out to be the thing that made my work stand apart from others, my unique selling point if you like. I learned that if you like something, you can be sure there are others who like it as well.
On 7 August 2015 I went to the Chamber of Commerce and registered Anna’s Illustrations as an official company. I’d decided to go for it. Not as a freelancer, but next to my fulltime day job. I would work on my drawings in the evenings and weekends and see where it would lead…
We’ll continue the story in my next blog on how I became a fashion illustrator!