A woman sits crossed legged, her face turned down and silhouetted. A rich blue background sets off her red bathing suit and white swimming cap. With arms outstretched, she holds a beach ball aloft, like Atlas holding up the world. It’s July 1932 and Vogue have just released their first ever photographic magazine cover.
This moment in time marked a transition toward the new technology of photography. Within the world of fashion publishing, it would soon become the industry standard. However, the move away from the tactile, intimate nature of illustration has actually made the allure of drawing now even more powerful. The hand drawn artistic medium has always had its place firmly rooted in the creative nature of fashion. From the initial design stages through to production and showcases, the entire process is a visual art experience.
When fashion designers work directly with artists and illustrators, exciting things can happen.
One of our featured artists Chris Gambrell has experienced this collision of art and fashion himself, working with huge fashion giants such as Vogue on his uniquely vibrant and captivating illustrations. Discover how his career as an artist has enabled him to make his own unique mark upon the fashion industry.
The Style of Chris Gambrell
“If I am drawing from life, it’s from fleeting moments drawing people in parks and cafes, but it’s also an amalgamation of editorial work I see and more classical painting.” - Chris Gambrell
Visually stimulating and alluring in equal measure, the work of Bristol-based artist Chris Gambrell is instantly recognisable. His signature style of vibrant colours and soft brush strokes brings his portraiture to life and captivates his viewers with every piece.
With an ever-changing toolbox of materials and media, Chris explores the process of drawing and painting developing a style which is captivating in its vibrancy and loose aesthetic.
More recently, his work has featured across the cover image of the biography of Italian Baroque Artist Artemisia Gentileschi. Described by Art Critic and journalist Alistair Sooke, as “the Beyonce of the art history,” Gentileschi painted subjects that were traditionally the preserve of male artists for the male gaze.
The biography titled, ‘The Lives of Artists’ written by art critic Jonathan Jones, accompanies the first major UK exhibition of Gentileschi’s work presented this year at London’s National Gallery. Writing in The Guardian newspaper, Jones recently described the exhibition as, "the most thrilling exhibition I have ever experienced at the National Gallery".
Couture by Vogue
A key highlight of Chris’s career came when he was approached by fashion giant VOGUE magazine to be one of seven artists to illustrate their favourite couture looks.
For this project, Chris revised over 50 selects from the Vogue archives and whittled them down to a single look. On his process, he said:
“I drew look 12 of Jean Paul Gaultier’s spring 2010 couture collection because its drama and beauty was crying out to be rendered in inky textures. [...] As with everything I draw, the subject matter chooses itself, the dark textural background rendered in inky aquarelle throws the protected white areas forward with the marks of wax crayons an ode to the handmade nature of couture.”
Other Fashion Endeavours
“Fashion illustration encapsulates everything I need to stay excited about image making.” - Chris Gambrell
Although a highlight of his career, the Vogue project was not Chris’s only endeavour into the world of fashion. His series titled Illustrated Runway explores form and colour across a range of looks, linking closely to the work of Commes Des Garcon and haute couture fashion.
Discover more of Chris Gambrell’s work by exploring the collection at Hancock Gallery here.