Art & Design

Fashion’s Top Illustrators Dish on Process, Aesthetic

Art & Design

Fashion’s Top Illustrators Dish on Process, Aesthetic

Unskilled Worker
Achraf Amiri
Helen Bullock
Richard Haines
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When seen through the eyes of an illustrator, fashion becomes far more complex than clothes simply draped on a body. An artist’s lens adds an extra layer to the designer’s vision, creating work that infuses their own emotions into high fashion looks. The London-based artist working under the moniker, “Unskilled Worker,” revels in a more chaotic approach, illustrating portraits with wildly oversized eyes. A self-proclaimed “Hidden son of the Addams Family,” Achraf Amiri pumps out haunting imagery, while Helen Bullock’s view of fashion looks wonderfully loud and electric. Menswear Golden Child Richard Haines draws with an easy, loose hand—one that’s been trained to furiously sketch during fast-paced runway shows and fleeting street style moments. We talked to the four global visionaries to discuss their signature aesthetics, personal processes and love for fashion.

 

Unskilled Worker

Unskilled Worker 1

On her aesthetic: 

“My work is an instinctive and emotional response to what I see. I paint to make an image my own—to put in the imperfections and vulnerability that have been left out. I think so much of imagery has become cold, striving for perfection, so I like there to be warmth in my work. It’s something that’s difficult to put into words and better to paint.”

On her process: 

I drink a lot of coffee, listen to loud music and look through images on my laptop. I work in chaos and focus on one painting at a time, working until it stops nagging at me. This could take two hours or 10, two layers or 20. I use materials in an improper way, mixing chalk and felt tips with ink and biro. I let the paper curl—I want imperfections. My work is a mix of accidents and control—too much of either and it gets ripped up.”

On fashion: 

“I never set out to be a fashion artist—I was just painting faces and putting them on Instagram. I wasn’t thinking about fashion in the designer sense, but more tribal. I was painting faces that were familiar to me—the tribes that I’ve witnessed since childhood. I’ve begun to also think more about the sentiment behind the clothes. I paint for myself and what I feel when I look. It’s not very conscious—I think it comes from years of looking.”

 

Achraf Amiri

Achraf Amiri 1

On his aesthetic: 

“I’m attracted to the opposite of what seems to be a fact. I like to explore my inner dark side [through illustrations] because I’m actually quite a happy person. My work somehow always reflects a dark truth because it’s most often concerning the mainstream.”

On his process: 

“I’m an impatient and excited person. I don’t spend more than 30 to 50 minutes on one piece. When I get visually stimulated or inspired, I have to work on these ideas immediately. I’m also very competitive and like a bit of a challenge, as well as the idea of being the ‘first’ to sketch about a certain happening. Thanks to my ability of quick sketching, I’ve developed this way to give news, but with images instead of written articles.”

On fashion: 

I’m mostly fascinated by the body expressions, however, fashion is always nice to adjoin to make my work look less eerie and more lovely.” 

 

Helen BullockHelen Bullock 1

On her aesthetic: 

“My work is bold, sometimes awkward and line driven. It’s painterly and naive—always very visceral.”

On her process: 

“I’m a very successful faffer. I always tidy up and reorganize to distract myself and then finally I’m at a point of no return and just have to get to [creating]. Then after some form of communication with the look, like staring at it or asking what it needs, I finally get on the page. Then, it’s often quite fast—I try to be active on the page to keep the lines alive. Sometimes I have a clear view of what the look wants to be and other times, it’s a matter of making a multitude of attempts before I understand what it needs to say.”

On fashion: 

“I love that fashion is ever-changing and always providing you with something fresh. It’s always running to try and keep up. It’s always been a world that I’ve chased after—it’s exciting and freeing.”

 

Richard Haines

Richard Haines 1

On his aesthetic: 

“My work is very much about capturing the moment with line. I work to tell as much information as possible with line, so I’m always working on making that line as powerful as possible.”

On his process: 

“There are different processes for different kinds of work. When I’m drawing live at a fashion show, I’m looking for the message from the designer—the shapes and attitude. When I’m drawing a person for a sitting, I’m looking for the essence and personality of the sitter.”

On fashion: 

“I love the speed of fashion. There’s something hopeful about a new season with new ideas, a new point if view. And of course [I’m attracted to] the beauty of fashion and the intense level of work and creativity that goes into it.”