All photos courtesy of Katie Rodgers.
After stitching together our new customer art-inspired stylebook, Fashion From the ‘Art,’ we couldn’t resist bringing a touch of collaborative whimsy to our shopping pages as well! Finding fun and helpful ways to demonstrate the scale of our bags is always on our minds, so we teamed up with fashion illustrator Katie Rodgers of Paperfashion to create watercolor “models” for our bags section. Information has never looked so pretty.
Katie’s work in action for this Betsey Johnson handbag.
Before we parted ways, we asked Katie to dish on the creative process behind this collab and her artwork in general, and got a color-packed virtual tour of where all her fantastical illustrations come to life.
Storytime! How did Paperfashion come to be?
I started Paperfashion on a whim after getting my first job out of college. I’d hide away in my room after work and sketch for hours, and one day decided it’d be fun to post them on a blog. I had no idea what I was doing, or where it would take me. Three and a half years later, it’s now my full-time job.
Tell us a bit about what the process for this collab was like on your end.
When I begin illustrations, I start by finding and sketching poses that will work well (sometimes I find them here). Once I have the poses down, I sketch their clothing and accessories, and then add a fitting hairstyle and face. The hairstyle and face can completely change the personality of the illustration (as it can it real life too!). Once the sketch is finalized, I add some color. Of course, there can be multiple rounds of this until it’s right! Then I scan my illustrations and clean up the backgrounds in Photoshop… and voilá!
What drew you to illustration and watercolor?
My aunt gave me my first set of watercolors in elementary school, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It wasn’t even a question. I’ve just always enjoyed the way watercolors work.
I love working with a simple palette of colors to create something on a blank piece of paper. I’ve always been drawn to fashion illustration… ever since I can remember I’ve been painting and sketching ladies in gowns. Fashion is visually stimulating to me.
Where do you pull ideas and inspiration from?
Ideas come from anywhere and everywhere! Internet wise, I find tons of inspiration on Pinterest and blogs. I go back through my pins daily to look for new sources of inspiration. Away from that, I find travel to be very inspiring. Whether it’s a trip to a foreign place, or just out my front door, getting out is something that always refreshes my mind and inspires new ideas.
At ModCloth, we’re forever dreaming up narratives for the clothes we carry. The ladies in your work feel so nuanced, and there’s often a lovely, caught-in-a-moment quality to their poses and expressions — we’ve always wondered, do you sketch them with secret little storylines or character plots in mind?
Definitely! Some of my best sketches are inspired by music. When I put on the right music to go with the mood of the drawing, my mind wanders off and creates a whole world around the character in my sketch. I was watching the live stream of this year’s Met Gala, with the perfect music, and created an entire scene in my head around this girl arriving late… and it’s still one of my favorite sketches to date. I love when I look back at a sketch and remember what I was thinking, and how I felt while I drew it.
What fuels you through the work process?
Music and coffee! Always.
Any fun facts about each illustration or about this project in general?
Ha! Well, it’s a shame when you drip coffee on your illustrations… thank goodness for Photoshop!