December 30, 2013
Compared to the last couple years in Europe, I felt like maybe I had slacked in 2013, perhaps because everything seemed to come a bit easier than before. Being back in Toronto meant I was living more comfortably, and was placing more emphasis on spending time with my family and friends than working. Then I went back through the archive and was surprised to be reminded of how much I did accomplish this year.
On January 1st, 2013, I moved into a new studio. Taking all my equipment out of storage and re-installing it was a wonderful feeling. I love having a shared studio – it’s a place of constant activity, and I’m always meeting new friends working in different disciplines. It is good company and good energy. Above all, I’ve returned to drafting and sewing, and while those efforts aren’t yet focused towards any coherent goal, it feels immensely satisfying to work with my hands again.
Being back in North America meant returning to New York Fashion Week for the first time since 2008. Times have changed a lot since then! My Fall 2013 season was a dream come true – I had access to sketch major shows on the iPad for FiftyThree, and the best results are here in the WWD on Paper portfolio. In addition to seeing my drawings in WWD, I had my picture on The New York Times website!
The future of illustration is undoubtedly all about touchscreens – it’s a great privilege to be able to adapt my work to new media while that new media is being developed. Once again, I worked the touchscreen on Microsoft’s Fresh Paint for HP.
I’ve been doing live runway sketching for six years now, and it’s been a fascinating journey. This was the first year I found many clients were interested in this work, and the first year I noticed many other artists conspicuously sketching at fashion shows. It has become a bonafide trend, which means I have to raise my own bar higher. This must be how it felt for the street style photographers, although so far this is a bit more of a fool’s gold rush than an actual gold rush. It will be interesting to see how this practice develops – in the era of ubiquitous photography, people seem genuinely fascinated with more unique, skill-intensive ways of recording events. Since not much has been written about the subject, I wrote a brief history of live runway sketching, more for my own interest than anyone else’s it seems.
My live sketching highlights this year were many. I went backstage at NYFW for the first time at BCBGMAXAZRIA. Live sketched at Jeremy Laing, Nicole Miller, Lucian Matis, Jean-Pierre Braganza for FW13, and Ralph Rucci, J. Crew and many others for SS14. In October, I was proud to be the official sketch artist at the shOws in Toronto. Above, is my favourite sketch of the year, from Jeremy Laing FW13.
I did less trend theory writing this year than I would have liked, but there were two pieces in particular that I think are well done: the metaculture spiral and fear of fashion – the eternal moral panic. In my imagination, there is a more interesting and accessible way to write about fashion than what is available to read, but it seems like I have to write it for myself.
To that end, I mused about reinventing fashion criticism, and then I tried backing up my theory with practice for The New Inquiry. Fashion writing for a larger, more academic and politically inclined audience was an awesome way to connect with clever minds worldwide. It made me realize that publishing on Final Fashion is a bit of a backwater, and perhaps future essays might be better placed outside the fashion blogosphere.
I’m also a bit obsessed with the idea of creating more satirical, visually enhanced fashion writing – I made a stab in that direction with liquid liner in this piece about eyeliner signalling.
I love that my site has become a hub for aspiring fashion illustrators, so by popular request I produced a tutorial on how to draw a male fashion figure.
One of the most interesting assignments of the year came from Jaime Woo of Gamercamp – a chance to combine trend theory and illustration in one epic post – double flawless – five female video game characters go to fashion week
I didn’t have the time to produce any personal paper doll projects this year but I did several for clients or as gifts – for Style Sequel, a magnet doll for my neice, Mrs. Carter for Stylist, and Holly Godarkly for Shorts that are not Pants.
Now that I’m in my thirties, I find myself more deliberately addressing my own physical appearance. Besides taking on physical exercise in a serious way for the first time in my life, I gave myself a makeover for New York Fashion Week, and it was validated when I was photographed by The Sartorialist.
Last but far from least, I participated in two performance art projects.
Performance art is intense, but it was also incredibly liberating to work on large projects that were wholly non-commercial endeavours, which meant that all the creative work was a genuine expression of our ideas, and what we found interesting, for its own sake. Both experiences created powerful, intense bonds of female friendship too, for which I am profoundly grateful. Offering your total commitment and energy to another artist is truly worthwhile.
In art, as in life, there is no sense in reserving anything – just give it all you’ve got. This is the theme from 2013 that I’m taking with me into 2014. Whole-hearted thanks to everyone who has given me attention, support, and encouragement this year. See you on the other side.