A Little About Me...

I’ve been asked a lot by various media how I started my career as a fashion illustrator; so I thought I would compile some questions to let you know more about me and my art! I hope this gives a better insight about me as a person and artist and a little dose of inspiration to those who want to pursue a career in fashion illustrating!

 

Can you tell us more about your job?

I am a fashion illustrator – a profession that combines fashion with art. Essentially I am a visual artist who uses paint, flowers, and other mediums to emphasise and bring to life the outfits of the subjects in my paintings. I favour drawing haute couture gowns for their detailed elegance and understated luxury. I like to think of myself as a content creator and contributor to the myriad of pretty fashion drawings on the internet that beautify your day.

Outfit: Maryling, Hair: Mary Chan, Salon Vim

Location: The Great Room

Flowers are a big part of your work. How did you get into using them?

I wish I had some fairy tale to tell about how I started using flowers; but my flower girls actually have much humbler (almost accidental!) beginnings. One night while I was drawing, a single rose wilting on my desk caught my eye. Even near death its colours were still exquisite and stood out from the clutter that is my workspace. I felt compelled to immortalise its elegance and beauty and gingerly added its petals to the fashion illustration I was working on. I didn’t really have a concrete idea of how the petals would incorporate into my drawing, but once they came together on paper, it was clear to me how they complemented the flows and folds of fabric. I shared the finished product on Instagram and was completely blown away by the amount of attention it got. Within a few days, websites such as BuzzFeed and Huffington Post were sharing my work. That was enough to inspire me to experiment with other types of flowers. The rest, as they say, was history.

Surely you have a favourite flower and colour!

When it comes to flowers, that’s like asking me to pick my favourite child! I have a soft spot for flowers whose petals have different hues and pigments such as lilies, peonies, and cherry blossoms to name a few. I’m always discovering flowers that are new to me as I source materials for my various projects. It’s fun to learn something new each time and I never fail to be inspired by Mother Nature’s blooms. Every flower is unique and beautiful in its own special way, from the shape of its petals to its texture and pigments.

What has been your most challenging project so far?

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In 2016, I worked with a UK company to create illustrations for their TV commercial. It was a brand new experience for me. There were many additional factors to take into consideration while I was illustrating, such as the poses for the figure, angles, and types of flowers used. As much as the journey was longer and more arduous than usual, the results greatly exceeded my initial expectations. It was also a thrill to know that my work was featured on UK primetime TV!

What inspires your illustration style?

I am constantly inspired by nature. I especially love working with flowers that embody different shades of a colour (peonies and garden roses are my favourites!). One of the reasons why I love using petals is their delicacy and exquisiteness mimic those of the soft fabric of a dress. For instance, the gentle, fabric-like quality of rose petals allows me to create folds for flare skirts. Flowers in particular are such a tactile source of inspiration. The velvety elegance under my fingertips already allows me to envision how a dress would feel when it’s worn!

Which project would you consider to be your ‘big break’? How did that come about?

I will never forget my work with Jaeger Le-Coultre. Their manager came across my illustrations on Instagram and contacted me to do some illustrations for them. I was just starting out my career as an illustrator and was so humbled and honoured to be invited to work with such a prestigious brand! They flew me to Hong Kong for a live art demonstration at their event launch. It was such a humbling and unforgettable experience and I kept pinching myself during the flight to make sure it wasn’t all just a dream! That was the moment, in the dim lights of the plane cabin, that I thought to myself “Wow this is really happening!”

We know you love to draw. Share with us some of your other interests.

Since I was a young girl, I have always been keen on drawing and nothing made me happier than a pen and paper in my hand. I don’t think there was anything I loved more than painting and drawing! I am also a follower of high fashion. Understated luxury holds particular allure for me. Combining that with my paintbrushes and flowers was the ultimate dream come true for me!

These days I spend my free time with my grandmother. I would tell her about my day and show her my new artworks. (I actually wrote this post last year and even though I have lost her recently, I know she’s happy for me for pursuing my dreams!) At the end of the day I just want to feel that I’ve done what I love and have no regrets!

Is this where you saw yourself when you first started out in the fashion illustrating industry?

Being a fashion artist has always been my childhood dream, but I honestly didn’t think it would happen. Since I was young, my parents tried to steer me to what they felt was a more worthwhile vocation. I was nagged by my mother to focus on my studies to get a conventional, stable career. I did a business degree and thought I was on my way to a job in the banking industry that would pacify my parents. So, no, I didn’t even see myself starting out in the art industry.

I am massively content with what I do; I am living my dream! Every day I am humbled and reminded how lucky I am to be able to do that. Growth and entrepreneurship are very important to me as well and I intend to excel in those domains. I will never stop pushing myself for more and better, be it my artwork or improvement as a person.

Are there any places that have inspired you?

Anywhere that showcases nature and all her abundances have never failed to inspire me. Too often I have felt inspired to translate all that I’ve seen during my travels into an outfit. I also love cities that house intricate art and architecture. There’s just so much colour and beauty in the world out there. 

A few years back I visited Morocco. It was one of the best travel experiences I’ve had so far! Together with a couple of friends and strangers, we each rode a camel into the desert and spent a night there under a sky of a million stars. I’m a city girl at heart, but when our tent ran out of power and my phone died, I truly got to immerse myself in nature and bask in the beautiful night sky. Since then I’ve been paying more attention to the little things in life and the beauty of the natural world.

I also visited Scotland last year. The vast rolling plains really left and impression on me and brought into perspective just how small each individual is in this big world. It’s such a scenic place and I can’t wait to visit the highlands again.

What advice would you give to budding artists out there? How can they chase their dreams like you did?

I once heard this quote “Anything that gets your blood racing is probably worth doing”. I completely agree with it! I would encourage anyone who is passionate about something to go ahead and try. You’ll never know unless you’ve tried. Start off as side project and see how it takes off. Keep iterating and you might just find your true calling!

Outfit: Kate Spade New York

Location: The Great Room

 

I hope this gives everyone a better idea of who I am and what I do! Questions? Feel free to write to me at hello@graceciao.com

 

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