We’re big fans of Austin-based illustrator and Fashion Mingle member, Stephanie Jimenez, whose work features captivating swirls of vibrant hues and surreal elements. Recently we asked her to share some tips from her fashion illustration career working with iconic brands such as Ralph Lauren, Citizen Smalls and IPSY by Michelle Pham.
Fashion Mingle: When did you realize you wanted a fashion illustration career?
Stephanie Jimenez: Like many illustrators and artists before me, sketching, doodling, painting and creating have been in my blood since I was a little girl. Even after my fashion illustration and art studio classes at the University of Texas, it still had not dawned on me that illustration or art could be a career. In 2009, I began teaching fashion illustration at The Austin School of Fashion Design under the tutelage of Mary Margaret Quadlander, who was my first Apparel I professor at UT. It was through her encouragement and my immersion in fashion illustration that I realized I might be onto something. I started out creating custom illustrations for clients and have since expanded into illustrative branding, editorial artwork and finally my own series called ‘sunnies + STORIES’, an illustrated documentation of some of the people, places and things that have inspired me to illustrate, create and be true to myself as an illustrator.
FM: Where do you find inspiration for your fashion illustrations?
Music: I can almost always tell you what music or podcast I was listening to when a certain piece or series was created. I’ve been feeling full of life, ready for change and excited about the future, so Florence + the Machine has been on repeat.
Books: I have a mammoth collection of design books. I’m a sucker for the art and fashion section at Half Price books, much to my dismay during a recent move. I have a tiny little reading nook where I like to plop down, pull out a book I haven’t visited in awhile and mark (with my neon tabs) the things that really send a spark down my spine. It’s totally an OCD trait but it saves so much time when trying to recall where that one image was.
Nature: It’s so cliche but so true. My head (just like everyone else’s) gets so overcrowded with deadlines, designs, ideas, life, problems to solve, etc. Nature is the huge thing in my life that brings me gently back down to the reality that our universe and world is so much greater than all the things that are constantly keeping us from basking in it. Whenever I’m stumped or in need of inspiration or direction, I go for a walk. Every single time I have come back, I have not only felt revitalized but have managed to solve the problem or find the design inspiration I needed for a project. Walks, y’all! The ultimate way to work through life’s issues.
FM: How do you use social media to drive attention to your work?
SJ: Full confession, I’m pretty sure I’m the worst at staying consistent with social media. I have a tendency to disconnect from the outside world and hole up in my studio for prolonged periods of time (a social media intern is a must in my near future). When I manage to get my social media self together, I try and show lots of pics and videos of each piece in progress. I LOVE seeing how things are made and imagine other people do too? For my recent series, ‘sunnies + STORIES,’ I’ve also tried to incorporate little quips about the people I’m painting and why. Each piece (and person) is very special to me and I want to be able to convey those thoughts in my work and words (expect lots of run-on sentences).
FM: Your fashion illustration career includes working with brands such as Ralph Lauren, Neiman Marcus, & Citizen Smalls, what’s it like to work with these big brands?
SJ: It’s of course as exciting as you would think and also as surreal. I have definitely had many ‘is this real life?’ moments looking back. The people I’ve had the opportunity to work with directly have been nothing short of incredible. They’ve been hospitable during travel, focused on creating unique experiences for their brands, perfectly fashionable and unbelievably beautiful (shout out to Keith over at Ralph Lauren).
FM: What advice would you give to emerging illustrators that aspire to collaborate with fashion brands?
- Be more than kind to your clients! Many of the wonderful opportunities that have presented themselves to me have been from past client referrals (some from 5 or 6 years ago). These are your people, your network… be good to them.
- Savor the experiences and opportunities that come before you. Life moves so fast when you’re an adult and if you don’t intentionally make a point to sit back, breathe in deeply and relish the moment you’re in, it’ll be gone before you know it.
- Stay true to your own sense of style but always be willing to try new things. I love it when a designer comes up with an art concept that is new to me. While it can be a little scary at first, ultimately it gives you the opportunity to see how you can evolve as an illustrator and artist while simultaneously telling the story of their brand. It’s a win, win.
You can check out Stephanie’s amazing portfolio of fashion illustrations on her website at www.stephaniejimenez.com. You can also see her current project ‘sunnies + STORIES’ which illustrates many of the artists, designers, friends and family who have inspired the artist. She’s currently finishing Volume 1: Austin, TX with Volume 2: West Coast will arriving soon.
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