In the spirit of London Fashion Week, Cass Art was lucky enough to have the opportunity to chat with one of the most anticipated fashion illustrators of the season: Willa Gebbie. Her style is elegant, confident, delicate and above all a pleasure to admire. Willa shares her insight into the world of illustration, how to get started, varying techniques and what's coming up in the future.
How did you find your passion in illustration?
I always loved drawing, especially life drawing. I didn't go to art school, instead choosing to study chemistry, but throughout university and my early twenties I kept going back to drawing and learning more about art. I realised that I was never going to be a great scientist, because my heart wasn't in it. Now, I feel incredibly lucky to be able to spend my days doing what I love.
Can you explain your working process, technique and your favourite materials to use?
My working process changes depending on the brief, and how long I have to meet a deadline, but in general I start by pulling together a mood board from found images. I find that Photoshop is a really easy way to move objects around the screen and find a composition that works for me.
My initial rough sketches are done in blue pencil. I then finalise my line work using a regular black 2B pencil. I like very fine mechanical pencils, like Faber Castell's fine mechanical pencils and you can get replacement leads in different colours.
I always scan in my pencil lines separately, so that I can keep them on a different Photoshop layer to the colour. I then turn my paper over, and pop it onto a light box. I can then paint textures and colours within the guidelines of my pencil, but keep them separate. This gives me more control in changing the colours if I need to.
I'm generally not fussy about what kind of paper I use, but I do love the Fabriano Accademia Block for commissions, as it has a good texture for both drawing and painting.
What does London Fashion Week mean for you?
Sometimes I think that furore around fashion week can be a bit overwhelming and often elitist but it's very important for new, young creatives, not just in fashion design. Especially some of the fringe events, which are great places to discover young illustrators, photographers, prop-makers, film-makers and graphic designers. It's a great time of year to meet new people from different disciplines and discover new ways to work together.
What is it like working with clients and models?
Every client is different, but usually, they are great. The important thing is really understand their brand, and imagine exactly what message they are trying to portray. Once you're both on the same wavelength it's smooth sailing. I don't work with models as much as I'd like. The biggest downside of my job is that I usually work with people via email and I don't get the opportunity to meet or draw people in real life.
What advice would you give to budding fashion illustrators?
Don't put off promoting yourself. Just start doing it now, and I don't mean just through the protection of social media, I mean in real life (although social media is important too). I know of a lot of very talented illustrators that simply don't get the work they deserve because no one knows who they are.
Can you tell us a little about what's up ahead in the future for Willa Gebbie illustration - where can we see your work?
I have a couple of jobs in the pipeline that I can't really talk about, but I'll be doing some live drawing at Somerset House over London Fashion Week. I also have a book due out in April, called "The Ladies Guide to Bicycles".
Feeling inspired? Head to Cass Art’s online store www.cassart.co.uk to stock up on art supplies and remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest art news and interviews with emerging artists including Abi Samuel currently working with Alexander McQueen and one of our staff memebers at Islington, fashion photographer Laura Coughlan.