During last New York fashion week I met, rather e-meet Meagan Morrison illustrator and writer behind Travel, Write, Draw. We both followed each other’s instagram (she’s a bit of a superstar online with 142K followers) and in this beautiful digital world decided we should hang IRL. We started emailing and that’s when I realized that this beauty was Canadian too, it’s like no matter how far from home we find our neighbours. On her next trip home to Toronto we hung out and it turned into a three hour gab fest and I’m really not one for small talk.
The following week I was sent to New York on extremely important business so I tacked on a few days with my Mama and we shopped our way around the city. This also meant that I got to see Meagan again at her West Village studio and snap some pics of the artist at work. I’m fascinated by illustrators and so in love with Meagan’s work, her brush strokes are confident, expressive and her choice of colours exuberant and exciting. Meet Meagan!
1. How did you find fashion illustration?
When I finished my BComm at McGill I was on a serious quest to find where I belonged between the art world and fashion industry. I loved fine art and fashion so much but had no idea that the two could coexist in a career in such an integral way. After a string of unfulfilling fashion pr jobs in Toronto, a coworker suggested I look into the field of fashion illustration. One swift google search later and I landed on the two year associate degree at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. It was as if a lightbulb went off in my head. Six months later I applied, was admitted, packed my things and off I went!
2. Which illustrators past/present are your biggest inspiration?
Honestly, I do think it’s important to know where fashion illustration started and where it is today, but I think it’s even more important to draw inspiration from artists outside the field. Too many illustrators look like a derivative of David Downtown or Rene Gruau. All that said, my greatest artistic inspirations are Alex Katz, Wassily Kandinsky, and Gerhard Richter. They each have such unique paint handling but it’s their use of color that really grabs me. Before I studied illustration at FIT and business at McGill, I was trained in fine art, and had a real affinity for abstract expressionist painting. I think you can see that coming through in my recent work, the underbelly is definitely painterly and emotive.
3. What is your favorite subject to draw?
What I love most is taking a fashion figure or portrait and bringing some sort of travel context to it. Fashion is a lifestyle and I want to take my viewer on a journey with my work. The best example I have of this is a series of fashion illustrations I created inspired by my trip to Brazil and Argentina this year. I found some fashion figures as reference, and made an aerial view of Ipanema beach the print of a jumpsuit in one, and the houses of La Boca Buenos Aires a shirt fabric in another. It was fashion infused with travel and the outcome was really exciting.
4. I know that you recently went freelance, from me to you I know it’s always highs and lows, what’s your experience been like so far?
Terrifying, rewarding, and absolutely necessary haha! I have been working towards this for years and I still can’t believe the day finally came that I said goodbye to full-time security. Not one day has passed where I regret leaving. But it isn’t all rainbows and butterflies. It puts a hell of a lot more weight on how I price my projects and I feel the sting of late payments and chasing checks that are overdue. I’m also going through the growing pains of having to be way more firm in my business exchanges. I’m a lover by nature so it feels very uncomfortable to keep my emotions and compassion at the door. Maybe it’s the Canadian in me, I always feel sorry for something or someone lol. Fortunately I signed with my agent in October to help curb that.
5. What was the biggest three highlights from this past year?
Co-founding my own company and getting my O-1 Artist Visa to work for it (yes I need a visa to be paid by my company lol), being flown to Moscow a few weeks ago as a guest of MBFWRussia to illustrate live from the runway, and being featured as a suggested user by Instagram which grew my audience from 8k to 142k within three weeks. It’s been a good year. I feel very, very grateful.
6. Favourite tools?
I love gouache and acrylic. I’m big on texture and lots and lots of colour!!
7. Favourite spot to sketch in NYC?
The best for me is to walk around New York and take in inspiration through osmosis. I collect ideas in my head and on my phone and bring it back to my paint station to articulate. Truth be told, I really don’t like drawing lol. I LOVE to paint and that isn’t the easiest thing to do outside a steady workstation.
11. Anything you can tease us with that’s coming down the pipeline, or maybe what you want to do in the next coming year?
Travel, travel, travel, write, draw!! I’ve signed a few non-disclosure agreements and wish I could say more. I also had a spiritual advisor tell me that I would move to London in the New Year so maybe that’s coming too hah! I’m dreaming big, working hard, and hoping to bring the world to my art, and my art to the world.