This week I caught up with a woman whom I consider to one of the biggest rising stars in the Irish Fashion Industry, Holly Shortall. Holly is a talented freelance fashion illustrator from Dublin, with her own unique style and passion for her art. Her art work features monthly in Xpose Magazine and that is just the beginning for Holly. Her talent is undeniable, she’s going to go a long, long way!
Hi Holly! Tell us a bit about yourself and your work.
Hi! Well i’m almost 25 (don’t remind me!) and I have been drawing for the best part of my whole life. It was only in mid 2013 that I decided it was now or never with regards to trying to build up a profile and begin a career with fashion illustrations. I am still pinching myself at some of the amazing opportunities i’v been given, notably my live illustrating for the SS14 River Island press day and my monthly illustrations for Xpose magazine.
What sparked your passion for drawing?
Its hard to say, but I do think I’ve always been a little obsessed with celebrities. I loved Paula Yates, Gwen Stefani and Victoria Beckham from a young age. My Grannys friend May used to keep me all her magazine like Hello and Ok, and would have loved pouring over all the photos of peoples weddings and awards ceremonies!
Have you always been interested in fashion illustration or was it a natural progression for you towards that specific type of art?
Always. I guess I didnt know what avenue I could take and just presumed it was fashion design that I wanted to do. I tried it for a year but it just wasn’t for me. I’m the least mathematical person I know, I literally panic when I see numbers, so finding fashion design had a lot to do with rulers, 90 degree angles and numbers made me put up a mental block, so I found it very difficult!
You do illustrations on commission as well as for fun. Which do you prefer to do personally?
If I was being 100% honest, I love just doodling from my head and designing dresses, but I know all my followers love the celebrity illustrations, so its important I give them what they want! Its also make them more current. Like after the Brits I stayed up a little later than usual to do an illustration of Beyonce, and tweeted it to the designer who made her dress. I woke up the next day to a reply from him thanking me for my illustration and saying it was so cool!
Celebrity illustrations are what I would love to do for a weekly publication like the Sunday Times Style Magazine, another one I’ve been reading since I was small.
Your work has its own unique style. Once you see it you automatically know it’s a Holly Shortall illustration. Is your drawing style intentional or is it purely your own natural style?
Its purely my own style- since I first picked up a pencil, I have only ever drawn on female on an a4 page. I have mountains of drawings from when I was about 4 onwards. I’m so lucky in that my parents have art backgrounds and encouraged me to draw, and also kept all my early stuff.
What publications do you aspire to feature in?
The obvious one is Vogue! They’ve had illustrated covers over the years, and I can safely say that is my life goal. I do believe anything is possible if you work hard. I’m not saying I think I’m amazing, but the respose so far has exceeded what I ever thought it would, so why not have a dream?! I would like to work for a few different magazines, an Irish one, and American one and a UK one.
I really want to do stuff for a weekly publication like the Sunday Times, they have a celebrity characteristic, who signs his pictures ‘Gary’ and I’ve been obsessed with his stuff since I could open a paper. He can nail a portrait in a few lines and you know exactly who it is- I just love that and would love be doing something similar.
You draw a lot of celebrity inspired illustrations, who has been your favourite to draw so far?
I loved drawing Anna Wintour sitting on the front row, Victoria Beckham, The Olsen Twins and of course Beyonce. I really just love drawing!
How long does it take you to draw a single illustration? Can you explain the process?
It really depends and I cant give away all my secrets! But I will say ALOT of time goes into them. For example, if I am doing a commission of someone and specify an outfit featuring a pattern or print, I then have to try source that print or closest match to use when colouring in the picture. I t can be really time consuming but its so important to me that the customer adores their illustration, its a one off unique gift and when I hear people say ‘Wow I love it!’ it just makes me so happy!
What are your goals for 2014
I would love to continue having my work featured in different publications and keep doing my commisions for all my lovely customers. Right now I’m really just know in Dublin so I would love to branch out in Ireland and of course across to the UK is well. I’m a real homebird and don’t see myself living anywhere than here, so the absolute joy of illustration is you don’t have to go anywhere else to do it!
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