Q&A: The Rise of Fashion Illustrator Clym Evernden

The British artist discusses why it's difficult to draw from the front row at a show and how fashion illustration is moving beyond couture.

The autumn/winter 2014 Hackett show set.

Illustrations courtesy of Clym Evernden.

The autumn/winter 2014 Hackett show set.

British illustrator Clym Evernden's inky, dashed-off drawings of the menswear universe are certain to cure Instagram fatigue. The 35-year-old former model has been amassing cred in the three years since he started full-time—his commissions already include Paul Smith, British Vogue, and the Telegraph. Here, he tells us how he works.

DETAILS: How did you become an illustrator?

Clym Evernden: I went for a B.A. in women's wear at Central Saint Martins and then straight into a few design jobs. A former teacher, Howard Tangye, who is a well-known artist himself and taught John Galliano, saw that I was miserable and really encouraged me to switch to illustration.

DETAILS: What's your process?

Clym Evernden: I work with a black-ink brush pen from Pentel, rather than a pencil or a crayon, because my style is very fluid and it really helps with the speed. If the runway is long and I have a clear view, I can get a full look onto the page, starting with the head. I tend to go for distinct silhouettes and bold patterns. More and more, I'm doing backstage, too, illustrating the models lined up before they go on, so you have a bit more time there. Then I go back to the studio and work on the color, for which I use Winsor & Newton inks. But the black line always leads in my work.

DETAILS: Any tips on getting a good seat at a packed show?

Clym Evernden: Sometimes I get lucky and end up in the front row, though that's not always ideal—there's not much elbow room for drawing. If I'm a couple of rows back, I'll just ask to stand up. I'm six feet four, so that helps with getting a clear view.

DETAILS: What do you credit for the fashion world's revitalized interest in illustration?

Clym Evernden: Illustration adds a human edge at a time when people are looking beyond just what models are wearing on the catwalk. There's this cliché of fashion illustration being a very couture thing—one-dimensional, 1950s women wearing high-end clothes. Now people are trying to think of ways to get that hand-done quality back, especially on websites.

Illustrations courtesy of Clym Evernden.

From left: a Versace model; a street scene.

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