We talk to Drawn Volume.2 featured fashion illustrator Lady Monrua about the golden age of illustration in Chile and discover how she brings her designs to life.
Hello Lady Monruà, thank you for your time today! We're looking forward to hearing more about your creative practice.
Tell us about your background? Did you study, if so what, and when did you start illustrating professionally?
I studied traditional painting with a master, and before that I was in many plastic workshops curated by Santiago’s Bellas Artes Museum. My life has always been surrounded by art as far as I can remember, and illustrating began as a way of personal expression; almost unknowingly, I was creating illustrated tales about the girls in my school.
I studied Visual Communication Design and worked for several years on agencies and communication companies. One day I felt I had to follow my dream and took the decision to embark on a new road in my life; one related to illustration.
Fashion illustration was the discipline that charmed me; all the designers’ amazing creations. I recalled that my mother and grandmother made their own dresses by heart, so I was listening to the sewing machine since I was little. I was subconsciously drawn to that world of cuts, patterns and shapes in which I finally entered through art. My great motivation was the mix of art and the theatrical; the fashion world’s scenic runway mise-en-place captured me definitely; the colors, textures, shapes, concepts… it was much more than just the wardrobe. I was gobsmacked!
In 2015, I created a magazine dedicated to fashion illustration called iF Magazine and I absolutely loved doing it, so I started working on illustrations for its different editions. This year, I’m focusing professionally as an artist in the fashion world. I’ve recently captured some collections by Chilean and international designers and worked for different blogs and publishers.
You live and work in Chile. What is the illustration scene and creative community like there?
The golden age of illustration in Chile was during the 40’s and 50’s, a time when there were many illustrated magazines, where the illustrators told their painted tales and found a plentiful audience for them. Social and economic factors shifted and influenced the illustration market. Then, after the (Pinochet’s) dictatorship, everything went silent.
We’re currently experiencing a new age for illustration; it’s now the new language that tells us stories and which has invaded children’s and adult’s minds alike through an infinite array of styles, themes and cultural spaces. A phenomena that’s had an effervescence and a great development in various areas, reflecting not only what’s happening in our society but also showing the work of big national and international fashion designers through fashion illustration, a rising discipline that’s taken steps into the mainstream thanks to the presentation of runways and author designs. The completely illustrated iF Magazine has created a community around this discipline.
The creative community of illustrators in general has seen a rise in numbers, and a fair number of new promises blossom every day.
How do you create your artwork, and does the process vary if you are making work for a client or for yourself?
When I’m drawing, I get away from technology and go to a place in which I can get inspired. I do other things like reading, listening to music, riding a bicycle, all to disconnect from the constant bombarding of images we’re subject to nowadays. Sometimes, I just look at the stars and let the ideas flow in my mind, and I start to see a hologram of what the work should look like, then I just focus on the sketch until I’m finished.
When a client asks for an illustration, I focus on their requirements and also talk to the person so I can connect to the idea they’re trying to communicate. That helps translating words, colors and shapes into fashion illustrations.
When I’m drawing my own stuff I basically look for the same: a message or idea that transmits a sensation, an experience that invites you to submerge into the imaginary world of illustrations. There’s an ingredient that I never leave to chance and that’s sending a message that strengthens the visual narrative that’s usually hidden.
What tools or techniques can you share about your process? Is it all hand done or is there a computer involved?
My techniques are varied and which ones I use depend on what I need to achieve; I use classic hand-drawn techniques such as acrylic, aquarelle, ink, graphite, collage, and others. I mix techniques sometimes when I want to create new textures, which I then use on my illustrations. I use both hand-drawn techniques and digital ones for adjusting colors or correcting imperfections, though I have many 100% analog works.
Where do you take your inspiration from, and what is influencing your work at the moment?
My inspiration comes from my appreciation of the beauty that surrounds me, art, nature, and music, my great muse. Sometimes its words that inspire me… that instill an image in my mind which starts connecting with other ideas. It’s an introspective process that helps me channel my creativity.
At this moment, my work is greatly influenced by fashion, modern fashion artists, and the technique of collage, which helps me create works with varied materials and shapes.
If you could go back in time and give your younger self a piece of advice, what would it be?
My younger self would say: let the fear behind, dare to let your inner light shine, let it take you through the path of the artist. Be disciplined and establish goals, and then reach them. And don’t stop enjoying yourself!
What are your personal and professional aims for the next year, and what can we look forward to seeing from you?
My great personal goal is doing what I like and that’s what I work for daily. Enjoying the simple things, laughing and sharing with family and loved ones.
Professionally, to keep developing as an illustrator, improving and getting new skills so I can offer more quality in my product. To enhance my illustration studio and to keep getting new clients that allow me to stay doing what I love: illustrating.
In the future, to keep seeing more and more fashion inspired illustration, and to display my work as an art object.
Thank you for your time today Lady Monruà! We're looking forward to seeing your new works very soon.
Visit Lady Monruà on Instagram to see more of her work: https://www.instagram.com/ladymonrua