Megan Hess On Drawing Inspiration

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After pursing her dreams of putting pen to paper, Megan Hess has become a global fashion illustrator. We caught up with her to chat inspiration, drawing rituals and her beautiful new book, Paris by Megan Hess. 

What inspired the new book?
I’ve just always loved Paris! The fashion, the architecture, the people, the food.  It’s such a beautiful and inspiring city with endless things to draw.

Is Paris your favourite city? Why did you choose this particular location?
I always knew that I wanted to do a book about both New York and Paris. I created the New York book last year and this year has been all about Paris for me. It’s a city that I fell completely in love with on my first visit and I have loved every second of travelling back there for work over the years. It’s the architecture, the food, the FASHION!

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Name your your top three places to dine in Paris.
Hotel Costes, L’Avenue, Ralph’s.

How did you become an illustrator?
I studied Graphic Design because it felt like a ‘real’ job in the art world, but really always wanted to be an illustrator – I just never knew back then that it was a possible career choice! After working as an Art Director in Ad agencies for several years I packed everything up and moved to London.

It was in London that I worked in a million different creative jobs and in my final job there realised that I had a burning desire to be an artist. At this time I’d become the Art Director for Liberty Department Store. Whilst I loved art-directing fashion I loved illustrating it more.

I started to do very small illustrations for Liberty and from this art directors saw my work and little commissions began to follow. After about a year I found myself with non-stop work. I wasn’t earning a fortune but I’d never been happier and I knew I was going to do this forever.

As my clients got bigger and better I was able to be a little more selective and just work on briefs that I knew had a great creative opportunity. Then in 2006 I got a call in the middle of the night from Candace Bushnell’s publisher asking if I would illustrate her next novel ‘One Fifth Avenue’. This was when things took off at rapid speed for me. Her book became a New York Times bestseller and I met with Candace and she asked me to illustrate all her previous books including the cover of ‘Sex and The City’. Once ‘Sex and the City’ was released I was contacted by TIME magazine in New York to create portraits for them.

Following this, I began illustrating for Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue, Bergdorf Goodman, Laduree….. Ironically, at the  same time as my work finally took off I had my first baby! It’s funny, I always tell people that I haven’t really slept since 2006!

Describe your style in three words.
Black, White, Gold.

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Do you have an all time favourite illustration?
My Dior Golden balloons is probably my favourite illustration.

Do you have a favourite from the new book?
I love my illustration of Le Bristol Hotel – I think it perfectly sums up Paris.

Tell us more about your studio space…
I love my workspace. I’ve always loved to create a space that’s inspiring to work in. My current studio is filled with all my artwork and all the little things that are inspiring to me.

Do you have any quirky work rituals?
I always need music, candles and lots of crazy eclectic things on my desk to draw!

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What keeps you inspired?
Everything! I love just getting out of my own little world and seeing how other people dress, live and create. I’m an observer and I love all the little details that make people interesting. I also think travel has a huge influence on me and provides endless inspiration.

How long did the book take?
A year!

What was the first drawing you ever sold?
An illustration I did for UK Elle.

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What’s next on the cards?
I’m currently working on one of the most exciting collaborations I have ever worked on as it brings together all my favourite elements. It is with the fabulous Oetker Collection Hotel Group which involves sketching architectural and interiorsscenes, and sprinkling them with all the eclectic people you would expect to find there. I get to travel around the world and experience all these different amazing hotels too, which is exciting, not least because they’re some of the most luxurious in the world

Finally, what’s on your kitchen soundtrack when you’re cooking at home?
Frank Sinartra, Missy Elliot and so much in between.

Paris by Megan Hess (Hardie Grant, £12.99) is available now on amazon.co.uk

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