Fashion Illustrator Tracy Turnbull is one of those rare artists that truly excels in producing works in varying moods and styles. We at Zeum love her loose lines and careful use of color, and we are deeply deeply envious of her skill in rendering textures! The artist herself tells us that further developments are yet to come about in her ever-changing mode of style, and we have to say that we are ridiculously anxious to see the results!
Tell us a little bit about yourself Tracy! Where are you from, and how did you get started as a fashion illustrator / graphic designer?
I’m from Newcastle upon Tyne in the North East of England. I live in a converted barn with my husband and new puppy Dave, a Lucas terrier! I’m trained as a Fashion Designer and worked as a clothing designer for many years, but my favourite part of design was always the research and drawing element I think that’s where my obsession for fashion illustration comes from, I’ve always been interested in graphic design and layout and toyed with the idea of studying the subject when I was a student but decided to go down the fashion route, I’ve fallen into graphic design work by accident.
Please describe your work in three words.
Contemporary, moody, with fun elements (sorry that’s five words!).
We have to say that you are incredibly skilled in rendering textures! And in browsing your portfolio we’ve noticed the clever and subtle incorporation of collage elements into some of your pieces, though you have worked in various mediums including digital and traditional. However, would you say that you are favoring any particular medium at the moment? And if so, why?
I think the texture-rendering element of my work goes back to my design days. I have worked with fabric for many years so know how it handles and drapes; I had to replicate texture in illustrations within my job role so think I unconsciously use this knowledge in my illustration work.
I tend to mix hand rendering with digital work. I’m a big fan of collage so throw it in every so often. I love to colour and sketch digitally and have recently purchased a Wacom Cintiq, which I’m obsessed with.
I’ve recently gone back to working with pencil to create a more realistic style of illustration (it seems to be one of the trends in fashion illustration at the moment) I then usually add colour digitally. I tend to change my style a lot so who knows what 2014 will bring!
Can you tell us any songs, stories, or films etc. that you feel have had a significant impact upon the creation of any of your pieces?
I don’t think that I have any songs, stories or films that I’ve been influenced by. I tend to take inspiration from what’s going on in fashion, illustration and graphic trends. I love music and listen to music when I work. I go through phases but at the minute I’m listening to Grizzly Bear, The National, White Denim with a bit of Father John Misty and Foxygen thrown in for variation.
In crafting your portraits do you work predominantly from your imagination or from photographs?
I mainly draw from photographs; I look out for people that have unusual features that I can exaggerate, I love freckles, girls that look cheeky, moody or androgynous. I then choose a theme or scenario to illustrate them into, that’s where my imagination comes in.
List five things that fascinate you.
New technology, especially within design.
Scandinavian and Danish interior design. I love the simplicity and use of colour.
Artist Robert Knoke. His work is amazing.
Laura Laine and Liselotte Watkins (both fashion illustrators).
And i’ve always been fascinated by Jack White, He’s a really intriguing character.
Who are your personal fashion icons and/or favorite designers?
I have many favorite designers. My favorite favorites are Marni for her quirkiness, colour and bold use of textiles and print, Jil Sander and Celine for their pure sophistication (I’ve always loved Phoebe Filo as a designer) Acne, Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Antonio Marras, Yamamoto, I could go on…..!
I don’t have any real fashion icons. I admire people who I think have great style. I gather imagery on my Pinterest boards, mainly of street style fashion.
What does your work mean to you and what do you hope that it will mean to those who follow your work?
I just love to draw and create; it’s my passion. If my work inspires others to have a go themselves, that’s an achievement in my eyes.
Are there any projects that you are currently working on that you can tell us a bit about?
I’m mostly working on commercial graphic design work at the moment but I’m planning to start on some new personal fashion illustrations in the New Year. I’ll be uploading them to my website so keep a look out if you like my work!
What might you say has been the highlight of your illustration career so far?
I have exhibited in a few shows that were great experiences. Who knows, maybe someone out there will read this interview and commission me to do a range of inspirational fashion illustrations!