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The Interview With Fashion Illustrator Sophie GriottoArticle by: Veronica Baesso

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I love fashion illustration and at the moment one of my favourite artists in this field is Sophie Griotto. Her muse is the contemporary urban woman, and whether she walks the dog in chic streets or sips coffee from a French Cafeteria, her style is unique and rich of personality. Sophie’s talent is to capture simple daily moments in each detail and make them stunning and real through vivid colours and gentle strokes.

How did you become a fashion illustrator?

I attended the school of visual arts when I turned 5yrs old, and then the School of Applied Arts in France where I developed my graphic communication skills. In 1998 I started working for a parisienne art agency whose budget was primarily focused  on  “beauty”  and “luxury”, so I found myself working as a story boarder which involved putting  ideas  on paper for ad campaigns.  Thanks to this job, I became a Fashion Illustrator, and in 5 years time I had mastered how to draw women from different angles and  in different situations. My style and drawings improved a lot with time in a way that fashion illustration became not only a passion but my main job. When I draw I still create a story board, it is an essential phase, in the same way that a piano player plays scales.


What drew you to illustration?

Since I was a child, I started attending art classes and I wanted to become a painter. I used to draw over the figures of my mother’s magazine covers and I would dwell upon each details. Soon women became my favorite subject, and that led to my decision to focus on an education in graphic design.

Who inspires/influences you?

Artists like Matisse, The Nabis, Miro’, Modigliani and japanese illustrators Tadahiro Uesugi & Hirano…Japanese style is a source of inspiration,because of its purity, and the efficacy in the strokes. Fashion photography and magazines influence me as well. I feel very inspired by everyday life. I love observing women in their daily routine, like when they are sitting on a chair or simply having a coffee. These observations can lead to being a muse. Sometimes the smallest details can make the difference : the pose of an hand, or a raised eyebrow..


Who are your muses/subjects?

I love women with strong personality : Audrey Hepburn, Jeanne Seberg, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Agyness Deyn are great examples. I don’t restrict myself to people as inspiration. I find inspirations in places as well.  I would say that Paris & New York are my favorite places to draw inspiration as well as images.


How do your pieces come together? What is your creation process?

I work with more traditional tools like inks and pencils but also with my tablet graphic Wacom. I think I work on an illustration much like a fashion designer: mood boards, sketches, selection of fabrics, creation of styles.


Does your approach for fashion illustrations differ from the advertising aspect? How?

Most brands I work with use photography, so with these clients my style is rather realistic. Companies wants to represent a world in which women can easily identify themselves, where the product is not altered and unique and I try to create something worthwhile. Thanks to fashion illustration these brands want to be different and have an artistic approach.


Which publications/brands have you been working with?

My work for Swatch jewels resonated internationally. Since 2008 I showcased my digigraphic canvas at the Galeries Lafayette Maison in Paris. I worked for Dior, Clarins, Wolkswagen, Elle Magazine, Shiseido. I also illustrated a style book “Cultive ton look” and Katie Fforde’s cover books.


Can you describe your work setting?

I have not lived in Paris for the past few years and I moved to the South of France. My  workspace is in the ground floor of my house. In this room, walls are made of stones, the furniture is contemporary and my tools are a mix of vintage and new. I use everything that has a  meaning, a soul, a story so i can contextualize it in more contemporary times and communicate this concept with my artwork.

I go to Paris approximately twice a month, whether to meet clients or friends. Paris is the place where I have artistically and professionally found my way. This city now represents one of my favorite subjects to draw, it becomes like a souvenir that I can take with me.

What qualities do fashion illustrations have that photographs or film don’t?

Being a fashion illustator means doing several jobs that during a photoshoot would be assigned to other specialists . When I draw, I don’t simply capture a moment like a photographer, I also style my muses with strokes that outline their clothes, make up and hair.

Maybe the advantage is that I can allow myself to exagerate the shapes. For example, “long legs, slim waist” without having people saying “hey, you have retouched your picture, it doesn’t look realistic!!!”

But I love photography in particular because we are using reality in order to suggest another reality there are often many ways to understand it, which is not that easy when you draw.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

My job is very versatile and dynamic. I have the chance to work from home with total focus and solitude, but at the same time I have days in which I am meeting several clients and artists to share my work with. Thanks to the Internet everything becomes public and people can get to know about what you do from all over the world, and become passionate about your illustrations. This is really fascinating.

My art can be applied in different fields, and this is the beauty of it. For example , I’ve been asked recently to create puppets for a children show, and my illustrations are going to animate a video clip of a French singer. The means are differents, and the social contexts too.

Any advice for others who are pursuing a career in this field?

To begin, I would suggest to create a notebook “commandes idéales” where you can list all the artists you would like to work with, that would help you understand which artistic style influence you most. I also find very inspiring and helpful to create mood boards where you can collect all the colors, fabrics, shapes and images that can generate new ideas. From there you can start sketching your inspirations and let your creativity lead you.


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