My Fashion Illustration Career Journey

Eleven years ago I started this fashion illustration blog, Fabulous Doodles along with my Etsy shop Brooklit followed by Brooklit Bride. I remember being excited but nervous about putting my work out there for the world to see. I also recall thinking it would be a side job (laughable now!) that fingers crossed could possibly lead to more. Something I'd write once in a while, get commissions from here and there, because that would be nice and who knows, I'd see where it went. What did I know for sure was that fashion illustration was my passion and sitting at a desk in a corporate office from 9 to 5 as I had been was not. (Although I was a Brand Designer for Hearst Magazines, so I did style, shop and design photoshoots and get be creative. It's not like I was selling insurance in my former career.) But I digress.

The day I launched a coworker featured me and my work on her blog, which immediately lead to multiple blog features, some of which were by very big and well known names in blogsphere at the time. Not soon after came my first my first commission for a global brand and then my first feature in a magazine. Every article, job and write up was so exciting! It felt electric. I remember running to my coworkers desk to tell her anytime an email came in with a fashion illustration inquiry.  Not soon thereafter though I lost my job during the recession. I remember crying to a friend that afternoon, not knowing what I was going to do because I'd just resigned the lease on my Manhattan apartment for two more years so the option of even moving home was out...So I kept blogging and following my passion but in those first years it was tough. I collected unemployment, (which back then was a whopping $485 a week I believe) I took odd jobs and even though I was well past my teen years I was back to babysitting again because you gotta do what you gotta do to the pay the rent and bills. But through it all I kept the blog and my Etsy shop going. And I kept taking commissions and promoting my work. Because as I always tell aspiring illustrators, you need to be consistent and passionate about promoting your work because no one else is going to do it for you, especially in the beginning. 
I began to gain more name recognition, clients and my career took off once I began regularly illustrating for Vogue. Its honestly still surreal to me, being a lover of fashion my whole life that I get to type that sentence. But it is, and it was. I've told this story countless times before but being a key part of my journey I certainly can't leave out here, so here it goes. I was blogging, taking commissions and going about life when a fashion PR girl reached out to me to live sketch her midsummer night soiree for fashion bloggers. I said no. This was something I was asked to do frequently but always turned down. I hated it when people watched me sketch, I didn't draw fast and the whole thing sounded overwhelming. Well she was very persistent and kept asking and I eventually gave in and decided to just try it. To my surprise it went really well and I wrote a blog post about it. The very next day I had an email from Vogue's head of events inquiring about my event sketching services! We set up a meeting and within a few days I was sitting in the Vogue lobby with my portfolio fully about to pass out. The rest is history. She hired me for her event and it was the first of many, many events I've worked on with Vogue over the past 8 years. They've sent me to on sketching tours of the country for 3 or 4 consecutive years and have collaborated with brands such as Clinique, Dior, Gap, La Mer, and Viktor & Rolf. Having Vogue as a client opened the doors to meeting many other designers and brands as has just being a guest a Vogue events and meeting future potential clients in person, when Voguers introduce me as their illustrator! Since Vogue I now also work with Burberry, Chanel, Cartier, Salvatore Ferragamo, Harry Winston, Pierrier-Jouet and Mindy Wiess Events to name a few.

I'm sharing all this now is because its a difficult time once again with this pandemic and the economic fallout for many including me and my business which is primarily doing live events--which have obviously have all been canceled in the last 6 months and counting. I'm trying to remain positive though and taking solace in knowing I've gotten through tough times in the past and I'll get through it again. I'm also trying to focus on the areas of my business that are not event based, pivot my efforts and and work on expanding my website, rebranding, and creating a new collection of work. I hope sharing my journey was insightful and maybe even helped you in rethinking your own. You never know how saying yes to one event, writing one blog post or taking one meeting could be launching pad of your career. Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below! And be sure and check out my new newsletter so you don't miss any of the new things I'm working on!

Leave a Comment