Back in summer I was contacted by one of the designers over at InStyle Magazine and Mimi Chatter, New York. Mimi is a relatively new site, run by TIME Inc and features all things beauty! They were after a new social icon, together with some further illustrations of beauty items that they would be able to use as part of an accent library in order to help create a soft and elegant feel. Since Mimi is new, they also wanted their illustrator to help pull the look and feel of the brand together. It was a real pleasure to work with them. Here’s a taste of what we came up with …..
A couple of months ago I was contacted by ROUGE Magazine, China, and asked to create 6 beauty illustrations to show the upcoming trends for this fall. The brief specified that “one part of the face should be accentuated and the rest could be more abstract. We’ve seen this in some of your work”.
They sent across six photographic reference images of the trends for me to work from and immediately I loved the brief! They were just the kind of photographic references that I would have chosen myself. I also seemed to have some kind of epiphany during this commission – as in, “oh yeah, that is my style (duh!)” and as such, it was definitely one of the most flowing and enjoyable commissions I have created so far. I’m hoping to further develop this style and will share the finished illustrations once they are published – but for now here are some in progress shots….
My lovely friend Alex recently sat for me. I had asked to paint her for a few reasons;
1. She is one of the most beautiful people I know – both inside and out!
2.She has been a huge supporter of my work, right from the beginning …. and a cup of tea or (more likely) glass of wine with Alex can set the world to rights on days when I am questioning what the hell I am doing with my life.
3.I knew it would be fun and we could have a bit of a catch up …..
And we did! But what surprised me most about the whole process, was the fact that this stunningly beautiful girl was actually really self conscious. I took some snaps on the day and made the mistake of letting her see some when she asked. “Noooooo! Ugh, I look awful. Delete, Delete, Delete! Pleeease!” No-one likes themselves in photographs (unless perhaps you are Gisele)! But in the end, Alex put her trust in me and I’m so glad she did.
I must admit to being super nervous to show her this work. I tried so many versions before I eventually stripped the whole thing back and just made it about the lines of her face and her eyes – pretty much the first thing I noticed about her.
Anyway, I hope I did her justice. Thanks again Alex! x
A couple of years ago I met up with some of my old girlfriends for dinner. I hadn’t seen them in ages and wanted to look my best. It was the middle of winter and as my skin is naturally pale and hadn’t seen anything resembling sunshine in months, I reached for the fake tan. I swear by St.Tropez. If you apply it wearing gloves and have exfoliated etc beforehand, it can give you a very natural looking tan, which usually boosts my confidence.
But …later on that evening, after a few glasses of wine, one of the girls took a photo of the group. When we looked at the photo somebody commented “Helen looks SO brown!” I looked at the photo and yes, I did look very brown, no, orange! My eyebrows were even darkened by the stuff. I looked like an oompa loompa!
I think the problem was this – I had put on the tan on the morning of the event and as such, while I thought I looked naturally sun kissed in a “I’ve just popped back from the South of France” kind of way, the tan had actually had time to develop throughout the day and by the time the photo was taken I was a little overdone. It was then that I vowed to only use the fake tan a night or even two nights before an event, allowing enough time to wash the stuff off and for it to look natural.
So, once I accepted my natural paleness, I decided to embrace it! I love a strong red lipstick on others, especially those, like Dita Von Teese with beautifully pale complexions. The result is so retro and glamorous. So I figured I may as well try vamping it up myself. I went to MAC to talk to one of their makeup artists since usually I’m actually a bit scared of lipstick and only ever shove on a little of their Politely Pink (seriously, that’s what it’s called). The very helpful lady picked out a fantastic matt colour called “Ruby Woo”. Woah! Very red! We put it on and I was all lips! I liked it though.
Feeling slightly self conscious I wandered out the store, towards Pret a Manger. It was lunchtime. But, after tucking into my sandwich I nipped to the loo. There was lipstick on my chin and a weird patchy bit in the middle of my lips where most of the lipstick had been removed. It was hideous! No wonder I had some funny looks when leaving Pret.
There is obviously much to be learned about the fine art of wearing lipstick. If I go for gloss it will always, I mean always, be a windy day and I end up with my hair stuck to my lips and with bright lipstick you clearly can’t eat anything (is this why French women are so thin?)
What do you think? Any tips?
One of the major hair trends this year seems to be the braid. It was featured (as shown) at Herve Leger, as well as Balmain and Marchesa and I personally think it looks both practical and chic.
It’s therefore a look I’d love to try, but I have a feeling it shouldn’t be done without the help of a hairdresser?! Any tips? xx
After a lovely lunch today, I was introduced by a good friend to the wonders of Bloglovin and so am now looking forward to following my favourite blogs and I do hope you can return the favour by clicking the bloglovin button in my sidebar.
Thanks so much! xo
Being an illustrator is not like being an accountant or a lawyer. It’s not what you might call a secure career path. In fact, it’s not a straightforward career path. You’re not necessarily guaranteed a career in illustration just by doing a degree in that subject (mind you, you’re not guaranteed a career as a lawyer just by doing a law degree, but you catch my drift). You have to work HARD, be professional, grow a thick skin and learn to bounce back, move forward, be self motivated, keep going even when you’re at a real low point – because that’s usually when something really good happens.
But the hardest thing of all, I have found, is learning to shut out all the negative voices. It has taken me a while. Perhaps this is a British thing? Some of my lovely American friends, use words like “wonderful” when discussing my career path and say things like “you have a real gift. I’m so thrilled you’re capitalising on it”. A gift? …… Me? ……..Really?! Even the ones that don’t gush quite so much give off an air of support and understanding when we talk about my chosen career. Perhaps it’s just more a part of the American psyche to go after your dreams?!
Anyway, of course I have very supportive British friends, not to mention an incredibly supportive family and husband, but over the years I have heard a variety of comments from people who perhaps don’t know me so well. “When are you going to get a proper job?” Seems to be a bit of a classic and it usually comes from somebody who doesn’t love their own job. Another recent one stemmed from somebody who knows my husband (and also hates her well paying job) “but Helen just draws all day, that’s easy”. Hmmmm.
Then of course there are the negative voices you project onto others when they innocently ask “how are things going?”, “Are you busy?”, “sold any paintings recently?” Of course, these could just come from a well meaning friend or acquaintance trying to make conversation, but because you have heard the classic “when are you going to get a real job” a few too many times, you start to project this as sub text.
So the trick I have found is to learn to shut out all of the negative voices (whenever possible) and only focus on the good.
Another trick I have learned is to ask myself – “what would Adele do?” Sounds ridiculous I know but I just LOVE her. Her music kicks a$$. She is extremely talented and works very hard but more to the point you get the feeling that she wouldn’t take any nonsense. Cut her off mid acceptance speech and what does she do? Gives the middle finger to the fat cats while being shown live to the nation!
Now, I’m not saying I’m going to start being abrasive. Not even close. But with Adele, you get the sense that it’s all about the music. She doesn’t seem to give a stuff what anyone else thinks and if she does, she does a good job of hiding it. She knew what she wanted from a young age and she has gone out and gotten it. Perhaps us polite girls could all stand to be a little more like Adele.
What do you think? Anyone else encountered a similar scenario?
*Seriously, if you ever need your ego boosted, just hang out with an American (a nice one that is) – it works wonders.
When the iPhone first came out, our friend Q*, who is madly into his gadgets, was the first person I knew to have one. We’d go to the cinema and while we were waiting on the film to start, he’d sit there checking the football scores while the rest of us gabbed about our week…… I put it down to novelty.
Then, a little while later, Chris (my husband) got an iPhone. He works for himself so it’s really useful for him in terms of checking his diary and keeping up with emails and phone calls while out and about. But then he grew slightly obsessed (and annoying), laying in bed at night looking at his phone and watching youtube videos while I was trying to sleep …. “seriously, I am going to throw that phone out of the bloody window!!”
But then, once I started out as an illustrator, I could also see how useful it would be to have an iPhone. I was chatting with my sister in law about it and she very casually offered to give (yes, give!) me her iPhone when she upgraded to the newest model. Wow, so generous – I was thrilled! and yes, I too am now slightly obsessed. First thing in the morning and last thing at night, what do I do? you’ve guessed it! Etsy, Pinterest, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter …. not to mention email, the occasional ( or not so occasional) online mooch in my favourite store.
The result of all this is RSI in my right thumb (seriously!). I’m sure it’s not good for my brain either as I find I can’t sleep if I check my phone too late at night and I definitely didn’t feel like I missed anything when I only looked at my phone every couple of days to see if I had any calls when we were on holiday in Italy this summer. If anything, not using my phone helped me to de-stress a lot quicker.
It has to stop!
Anyone else got a similar addiction? Or at least some advice on how to use an iPhone in moderation? Please!
*Obviously not his real name. I went to see Skyfall last night and it seemed a suitably techie name. I’m not feeling very inventive today…. great film though.