13 Australian Fashion Illustrators You Should Know
In the world of fashion illustration, there’s an impressive pool of talent that resides Down Under, spanning the country. Each illustrator has a highly distinctive, yet eye-catching style. And we’ve put together a list of the twelve most amazing Aussie fashion illustrators you should know.
Now living in Hobart, Alyssa Bermudez hails from New York city where she started her career in fashion illustration. Her work spans fabrics and fashion, magazines, books and even for theatre.
These days, Alyssa is spending more time illustrating children’s books and teaching art. She’s about to publish her debut graphic novel, Big Apple Diaries. “This graphic novel is my first author-illustrated project and it’s based on my childhood diaries,” she says. “It feels like a part of my soul is being extended into a physical object. I’m excited and nervous about that vulnerability.”
Melbourne’s Sarah Darby works across many disciplines. She’s worked on portraits, event illustrations and creating the backdrop for major product launches.
The likes of Max Mara, Moet & Chandon, Yering Station, Catalina Sounds, Melbourne Racing Club, Rolls Royce and Ferrari have all called on Sarah to articulate their vision. Private clients also beckon from all over the world as do corporates and bridal commissions. She is passionate about capturing special moments that are truly personal to each of her clients. Every piece is about creating a unique and meaningful story.
Her illustrations are also featured on her One of a Kind Denim label worn by Katy Perry, Jo Jo Siwa, and a line-up of some of Australia’s biggest Instagrammers.
Melbourne’s Mads Francis made her mark illustrating popular celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Kylie and Kendall Jenner who reposted her illustrations on Instragram. It’s a move that paid off and some days Mads is overwhelmed with requests for fashion illustrations.
The Met Gala is one of her favourite things to draw and says she gains inspiration from one of her biggest role models, long time fashion illustrator, Megan Hess. Now a full time fashion illustrator herself, popular Mads works out of her studio in Richmond and is very much in demand.
Brisbane’s Kerrie Hess is no newcomer to the industry. Her impressive list of clientele includes Vogue, Cartier, Tiffany & Co and Louis Vuitton, to name a few. Starting out in London as a graphic designer, Kerrie realised her passion was actually fashion illustration. She saved up a year’s worth of rent and took the leap, knowing graphic design was always there to fall back on. That was 20 years ago!
Considering her lengthy resume, it’s no surprise that she finds it hard to name just one project as her most fulfilling so far. “Creating a hotel suite in my own name for Langham Melbourne with custom artwork and custom furniture was such an honour! So was creating a limited edition champagne with Laurent Perrier – the only art collaboration they have ever done since 1812!”
“But the really big one for me has been launching my Online Masterclass in Painting last year where we now have students from over 47 countries around the world learning how to paint fashion and still life in watercolor and connect too in our private group.”
Chrissy Lau is an award-winning British Born Chinese illustrator based in Sydney whose illustrations are inspired by her Chinese heritage. Her “East meets West” illustrations are deeply symbolic.
Chrissy has created bespoke Chinese designs for Johnnie Walker BLUE, Zodiac coins for the Royal Australian Mint, the Year of the Dragon campaign for the City of Sydney & a Chinese Zodiac stamp series for Guernsey Post. Her stunning creation for Johnnie Walker’s Year of the Pig Limited Edition made it to the long list in the World Illustration Awards 2020!
Kelly Coates, better known as Mekel, is a fashion illustrator and watercolour artist who lives in Perth. She dreamed of designing clothes as a young girl, but her lack of interest in sewing led her to pursue graphic design instead. She spent ten years working in Perth agencies before taking the plunge and working as an illustrator full-time.
Today she is widely known for her intricate linework and vivid watercolours. Amongst others, she has illustrated for Disney, Gucci, Swarovski, Topshop and Revlon. Of her style, she says “I love really minimal artwork, the less lines the better! I also love the way a splash of watercolour hits the page and find beauty in vibrant colours and the way it randomly dries”.
She is a fashion designer, stylist, film-maker and illustrator. Estelle Michaelides is an all-round fashion creative, translating her stories through these media.
Estelle’s illustrations are an incadescent voice of whimsical beauty, merging her trained knowledge of fashion illustration in watercolour with her reverence for collage. It’s the marrying of old school hand drawn techniques with modern art that gives radiance to her work.
Estelle has live illustrated for the Sofitel Melbourne, The Westin and Flowers Vasette and Dior and also at royal weddings overseas.
Alexandra Nea is an afternoon tea enthusiast just as much as she is an illustrator and a designer. She began her working life as a fashion designer, working on brands including Collette Dinnigan, Little Joe Woman, and Ted Baker, as well as her own. Her career started when she “dabbled in creating illustrations” after having her first baby. As her following grew, she decided to stay with it.
‘There’s not a lot of creativity in commercial fashion design. I found I was constantly having to reinvent the wheel,” she says.”What I love about my freelance illustration work is that each project is unique and I get to work with an incredible variety of brands.”
Sydney based Alexandra is currently working on an illustrated children’s book with a friend. This process is a source of joy and discovery, especially during such a turbulent year.‘This is a project just for us. There’s no design brief that I need to adhere to, or clients to appease, or deadlines to make. I take inspiration from my friend’s words, and wherever my imagination takes me, I draw.”
Gold Coast illustrator, graphic designer and photographer Haley O’Connor works as a graphic designer for Billabong by day. She also enjoys a varied range of freelance projects that keep her on her toes. That’s because there’s such a long list of businesses lining up for her services.
Hayley’s client list includes Billabong, Volcom, General Pants Co. , Alannah Hill, Wish , Amuse Society, Beach Riot, Surfing world Magazine, Pacific Fair, Collective Hub Magazine, Havaianas, QT Hotels.
“My drawing style has developed over the years around holographic colour palettes and contrasting detailed realistic drawings with surrealistic flora and scenes.”
So does anything surprise her about the industry? Yes, she says. “I think people’s perceptions of what an Illustration should cost. If they understand it, they know it takes a lot of time and value that. Others can see it as a hobby and just something you do for fun.”
Perth-based Michelle Pike was a successful fashion designer in Cape Town. Life, family, and immigration to Australia saw her passion take a back seat for many years. Four years ago, a quick sketch for her fashion designer daughter turned into a new beginning for Michelle as a commercial fashion illustrator and educator.
Michelle’s clients include Bardot, Westfield, Forever New, Dinner en Blanc, ENEX 10 and the Perth Fashion Festival.
“The fashion industry embraces youth, and very often mature women are forgotten. To have this career development at my age is something I never thought was possible,” she says.
She is most inspired by the incredible women who attend her sought after Perth workshops.”We all love diamonds, but we are also strong like diamonds and can survive and recover from much that life throws at. We stand together and work together.”
Adelaide’s own Petar Prodanović is a visual artist turned designer, who now specialises in fashion illustration. He was named Fashion Student of the Year in 2015 and also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts and Design and still designs and creates bespoke dresses.
Petar has been commissioned to illustrate for Mimco and is becoming well known for his live sketching at Adelaide fashion events. In 2020, Petar presided over his first “sip and paint event” for Two Sisters the Label. “It was a special event as this year I missed out on all my live fashion illustration gigs. It made me realise how much I enjoy working in a fast-paced environment and how much of a thrill I get out of it.”
Petar also now teaches fashion illustration at TAFE SA. Additionally, he is kept busy producing Paper Anniversary (First Wedding Anniversary) commissions that have become a very popular gift.
Angie Réhe is a Melbourne-based fashion illustrator and educator whose work has been sought by the likes of Vogue, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, L’Officiel and Jimmy Choo.
She balances freelance work with writing for her illustrated blog Patsyfox, where in 2020 she took to running online fashion illustration classes. This was a shift made necessary for her boutique-style Fashion Illustration Masterclass, due to Melbourne’s Covid lockdown. Normally, you might also find Angie running guest workshops and masterclasses for art galleries around Australia. Angie’s online shop offers everything from the most exquisitely designed wrapping paper to fine art.
Melbourne based Juliet Sulejmani’s illustrations document her personal observations about how people dress. In her own words, she’s “always exploring, never not drawing”.
She’s worked with Hardie Grant, Clinique, Thankyou, Pan Macmillan, RMIT, I Quit Sugar, Coffee Supreme, Art Series Hotels, Warndu, NYWF, Smith Street Books, The Urban List, Earl Canteen, and The Wardrobe Crisis Podcast.
Some of her illustrations are available via her online store as magnets, gift cards, post cards, stickers, art or sculptures.