Interview With A Fashion Illustrator: Holly Shortall


Hey everyone,

I've decided to practice my interviewing skills a bit, and I've decided to try interview different people within the fashion industry. This is hugely beneficial on my part, as I'm still trying to decide what genre I want to specialise in. It will also hopefully be helpful to any of you that want to be in the fashion industry! First up is Holly Shortall, and Irish fashion illustrator. I was reading OOHLALA magazine, a new [brilliant!] Irish magazine when I saw her work. Her drawings are absolutely brilliant! I love art and fashion, so I was intrigued to find out more about here. Luckily for me, Holly was 100% up to an interview, so check it out below, and also some examples of Holly's work. 
1. Hey Holly! Tell everyone a bit about yourself.
 Hmm! Well I'm 24,  one of four children and I'm from Harolds Cross in Dublin. I studied Fashion Design in college and was also runner up on a TV3 show called Style Wars in 2010! That kicked off my visual merchandising career and I'm just about to make the move from Gap to a fantastic Irish company called Visual Sense, where we will be going into different Irish Businesses and creating bespoke windows and floor layouts.

2. When did you decide you wanted to be an illustrator?
I don't think I ever really 'decided', as I was always around art as a child as my parents owned an Art Business when I was growing up. I was always drawing and designing clothes. My Junior Cert art project was based around fashion- I even made a stiletto out of clay! It all kicked off about 4 months ago when I started doing personalised illustrations and set up a Facebook page.
3. What did you study in college? What was it like?
 I thought Fashion Design was the way to go but I tried in and found it really difficult. Its quite mathematical and I had gotten a D in foundation maths so as you can imagine I was a bit lost. I  was only 18 so there's still a possibility I might go back in a few years to try again!
4. You recently designed illustrations for OOHLALA magazine. What was that like for you?
That was a fantastic opportunity- I am a big supporter and lover of Irish fashion so I was honoured to be a part of such a fantastic magazine championing up and coming talent over here. I had done one months ago so it was a surprise for the bloggers involved- my Twitter went a bit mental once the girls had seen them!

5. What is the typical process for making an illustration?
Personalised ones take the most time, as I prefer to not to copy from photos, unless instructed to. I had an accident in a previous job which affects my arm so first of all I have to pain free and comfortable, then I will just go through the photos I've been sent and sketch out the illustration. I go over the sketch in a fine black pen and then rub out the pencil. I scan the illustration on to my computer and fill in the colours and patterns on Photoshop and Illustrator. 

6. How long does it take to complete each one?
Honestly, I've spent entire days doing them before! I've done a few illustrations of men which I find really difficult as I've spent 20 years drawing and perfecting the female form, so I can be very hard on myself and spend hours and hours trying to perfect them.

7. Where would you like to see yourself in 10 years time?
Oh that's a fab question. Well the dream is to be a full time illustrator but I understand that is something that may not happen for many years! I would love to eventually be in a position where I am designing clothes without having to physically make it myself! I would love to do celebrity fashion illustrations for a big internationally recognised magazine too! 

8. Who are you inspired by?
Besides the obvious such as family members or celebrities, my biggest inspiration is my best friend Grace Moore who is a fabulous stylist and my right arm! We met on when we were both on Style Wars and have been inseparable ever since. She is a prime example of hard work paying off. She recently assisted Grace Coddington on a shoot in Kerry for the September issue of American Vogue which is obviously ridiculous and huge. But that makes me think, why shouldn't I imagine my illustrations in Vogue!

9. What are your favorite trends for A/W '13?
While I wouldn't consider myself a slave to trends, I am appreciating this season's oversized pink coat and leather looks. I generally wear a leopard print coat with a black oversized jumper, big round sunglasses, leather look jeans and some black boots so I'm probably considered a little bit boring
10. Lastly, what advice would you give to budding fashion illustrator?
Another good question! I guess just keep honing your skill till your at the point where you think you want to show them off to the world. Like any business, you have to get it out there and if that means sending free stuff to celebrities then so be it! Find your niche too, everyone's different and what works for one illustrator might not for another.

*images belong to Holly Shortall

You can find Holly on her website, facebook and twitter.

What do you think of Holly's illustrations? Do you like the idea of my new fashion career interview series?

Happy Halloween! 
-Rachel x
where to find me >

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