So you think you can draw? With fashion illustration courses popping up at Melbourne School of Fashion, RMIT and The Whitehouse Institute of Design, it seems like every fashion savvy lass and her dog wants to explore the artistic side of this coveted industry – but how easy is it?
Angie Rehe was a country girl with a passion for fine arts and painting murals on the walls of her brother’s house. She is now one of Melbourne’s most talented fashion illustrators. After studying fine arts, Angie decided to enroll in RMIT’s Fashion Design course with no idea how to translate her artistic background into the fashion world. At that time there weren’t specific courses in fashion illustration, forcing Angie to create her own way of learning which she now translates into a unique teaching style.
Angie has spent 20 years in the industry, 13 as a designer and has worked with several high profile brands, the latest being Australian organic label Gorman. Her role at Gorman was the first design job that Angie felt proud of due to the integrity of the business and the input she had into the design of the clothing. “Most design jobs are really just merchandising”, she says knowing that when she left Gorman, she knew she didn’t want to take a step back into a role without any creative responsibility.
This is where Angie’s career take an turn. The first few months working on her own were tough as the freelance work coming in wasn’t enough to pay the mortgage, so she supplemented this with teaching for the fashion schools. 2010 holds more exciting opportunities for this Melbournian who will be teaching classes as a part of the L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival in March, starting a business which provides personalised illustrations for brides and starting her own boutique fashion illustration school later in the year.
When asked what the creative achievement she is most proud of is, Angie replies that it would be her blog. Coaxed into starting the Patsyfox blog by her sister in law, initially Angie was concerned that her sketches weren’t “good enough” to post publicly on the internet. Inspired by countless aspects of her life in Melbourne, the blog is a delight to read and as a bonus you are treated to an illustration to match the day’s story. The key words she used to describe Melbourne’s unique style are “stylish”, “design focused” and “cool”. “Melbournians intellectualise what they wear” which sets them apart from the typical casual Australian fashion aesthetic.
Angie Rehe’s style is very fluid, mixing sketches with vibrant watercolour. Some are portraits with intricate detail on the face to create a likeness to a particular person; some are more abstract with little to no features. Looking through Angie’s portfolio it is clear that she is not afraid to experiment with new ideas and styles, she can see the beauty in daily life and is a versatile illustrator that Melbourne should be proud of.
So you want to be a freelance fashion illustrator? Here are a few tips on how to get there.
• Take a course in the basics of illustration. Unless you have a clear understanding of the foundations of illustration you can’t get creative and develop a style of your own.
• Learn how to use computer design packages. Even though the art of hand drawn illustration (or “touched by hand” as Angie calls it) is becoming more popular, you will often need to use these for touch ups.
• Draw inspiration from as many sources as possible. Draw anything and everything you see that sparks your interest. This helps to refine your skills and techniques and to develop new ways to explore different subjects. Angie often surfs the Internet and wanders art galleries for inspiring imagery.
• Create a space to exhibit your work to the public. The easiest and cheapest way to do this is to start a blog. Remind yourself that your sketches don’t have to be perfect.
• If you’re interested in freelance work, accept new opportunities but be cautious when doing so. Working as a freelancer in any industry is hard and when work is offered it is easy to jump at it, promising the employer that you can do anything and will do it cheaply. Know what you can (and can’t) do and what you’re worth and stick to it.
Patsyfox will be holding an exhibition of her work as part of LMFF at the Guilford Lane Gallery (20 Guildford Lane, Melbourne) titled “On the Street…Patsyfox” from the 10th to the 21st March 2010. She will also being launching illustration classes, The Patsyfox Drawing Salon, during LMFF. Stay tuned for more information.
Wise words by Kimberley Smith
Images courtesy artist.