Imagine the squeals of delight at Fashions Finest when we stumbled across Kitty Fuller and her amazing fashion illustrations! Here at Fashions Finest we are all about celebrating female entrepreneurs, empowerment and women that put their heart and soul into making something from nothing whether a garment made into a beautiful statement gown or a pot of paint into an elaborative piece of art.
In this series of interviews with Inspirational Women, we will be speaking to a hand-picked bunch of classy, sassy and utter bad-assy business women who are making waves in the entrepreneurial world.
Our second Inspirational Woman is Kitty Fuller. Kitty is a fashion illustrator and artist-lecturer whose work is being noticed by the God’s of the fashion world and who is working on a very cool range of Kitty Fuller branded items such as gifts bags and wait for it......wallpaper!
We’re bursting to share Kitty’s story so without further ado:
KS: Kitty, let me start by saying how utterly amazing your illustrations are! Your fashion women almost come alive in your illustrations and your artistic fleur is most definitely unique to you. But who are you? Who is the woman behind the women, so to speak?
KF: I was born and bred in Portsmouth, down on the south coast, and had my first taste of what life would be like as an artist whilst attending my pre-degree Foundation course at Portsmouth School of Art & Design. I absolutely loved it. Being a creative person growing up, finding your identity through adolescence can be quite tricky, as you do not fit in to the mainstream way of 'teenage thinking'. It was at Art School that I found my tribe. All my musical heroes went to art school and in 1994, the cusp of Britpop, there was a huge exciting change in music and art and I was lucky enough to be allowed to begin my journey as an artist during those Elastica / Radiohead filled studio days.
Then, I emigrated to Canada with my family and graduated from a BFA Honours Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Manitoba, with a First Class Honours. My thesis was in photography; primarily fashion. This led me back to the UK where I studied at Brighton University and graduated with an MA in Fine Arts; my practice was a specialism in Fashion Photography. I then dipped my toes into an MPhil / PhD research degree, where I began to study a body of work titled 'An investigation of Fashion Photography 1960 – 1969 and the aesthetic of the cinematic narrative' at Liverpool John Moores University. Unfortunately, this was shelved after 4 years, my heart was no longer in it and my financial situation did not allow such a luxury. I have absolutely no regrets! I still have all my work and the learning, so far, has been invaluable as a practicing artist. To support all of my education, I just worked my butt off in various coffee establishments and cafes, being a barista and a waitress has allowed me to remain creative!
KS: It sounds that even though you went through periods of ‘finding yourself’, your passion for art was always core in your vision. We find a lot that female entrepreneurs find their strength when having given something up, as you did with your course. It’s such a huge change working for yourself. What would you say were the biggest challenges when you first started out and what motives, inspires and empowers you now?
KF: The biggest change is the fear of not having a set monthly wage coming in. You become reliant on your monthly budget and do not have to think about covering the bills and means to live. This is all thrown up in the air when you begin to tread the path of self employment. I now teach / lecture at The Rare School of Fashion, one day a week, in Liverpool, both Fashion Illustration and Fashion Photography, which is amazing and I love it. My last barista position was in the creative sector of Liverpool, known as The Baltic Triangle. I met so many creatives who were small and large business start ups, who became regular customers and friends, and chatting to these people first hand, was the most invaluable way to gain an insight into starting up on my own. They each have their own story and would offer their own advice to me as a start up illustrator. The best part of it was that they were honest!! From the procrastination of writing up bids for funding to the art of networking, I watched it all whilst making their cappuccinos! These are the people who gave me the confidence to face my fears and go for it, they had all been in my position, and what’s the worst that can happen? Fall, get back up and try again!
KS: As a fellow Liverpudlian, I can totally relate to the creative vibe in Liverpool. After all, the city is renowned for its music, art and theatrical stars. It must have been amazing being surrounded by those people who could relate to. So you started out, found your feet and ended up illustrating the works of some super iconic designers. How did you decide where your niche was and how did you build on it?
KF: I have favourite designers who are my absolute heroes; Dolce & Gabbana for their over the top opulence and designing for the woman with curves and Monica Belluci being a muse of theirs and mine. I adore the creativity of Marc Jacobs. His shows were like mini film sets whilst he was working for Louis Vuitton, such a wonderful sense of theatre, which as an illustrator creates an immediate narrative to draw upon. Mary Katrantzou is the princess of Print! Her textile designs are phenomenal, so from an illustration point of view, her designs are incredibly detailed and strong and so much colour can be used to build up a story on paper. Alice Temperley again for her use of fabric and textiles and the incredible feminine and boho styling which can be so much fun to elaborate on a drawing and my latest work is the divine Gucci! I choose the textiles, pattern and prints first from the catwalks and magazines or Instagram. I have reoccurring themes and motifs that I like to use throughout my work so I will try and weave these into the picture once the print/designer has been selected. I love colour! The bolder the better!
KS: Your brand, Kitty Fuller, has received some astounding feedback from some big names in the fashion world. Tell us about that.
I have been illustrating for a few years now, but under Sarah Fuller Illustration, and I never really believed in myself. My real name is Sarah but when I started out there were too many Sarah Fuller’s on Social Media so I chose the name Kitty for my brand.
I knew I could draw but I did not believe I could make a career out of it. I began to organically use social media as a platform to showcase my work, and my favourites are Twitter and Instagram! Every time I would finish an illustration I felt proud of, I would tweet the designer, or the fashion house, or the Creative Director of that brand, and I was resilient and everyday would continue to tweet my work to other fashion people, and I mean tweet! My followers must be like, Yep seen this one already, like 50 times! But what I have a learnt is that it is a tool, it is free, and no-one is going to come and find me, so I needed to shout about it! Yes I have received some retweets and likes from Roberto Cavalli, Mary Katrantzou, Alice Temperley and recently a fab retweet and comment from Laura Brown, the Executive Editor of Harpers Bazzar US. It’s those little connections that make me smile and feel so happy. They have seen it once, they may remember me for an upcoming job #kittyfuller
KS: It’s not uncommon that entrepreneurs "think big". As a female entrepreneur, what do you have in store for your illustrations?
So Kitty Fuller has just launched its first website! It’s a fashion illustration website where you can see new and current work and I can also write my blog, which I do primarily on Instagram right now but I will be writing daily online as I think the behind the scenes, the initial sketches and works in progress are equally important to show as are the finished pieces. I plan to launch a range of greetings cards and mounted prints of my work (all fashion illustrated of course) so my work can be accessible at a regular price point to everyone. We all need a little fashion illustration in our lives right? I am also working on a range of bespoke wallpapers and fabrics/silk scarves. It’s all so exciting!! I am also continuing to receive private commissions, which are an absolute pleasure to do! Kitty Fuller is all about fashion illustration, everything comes back to the drawing, which has been influenced directly from the designers and catwalks and translated through my 1960's throwback creative mind! I am so very excited to see my work going into retail outlets too!
KS: I am totally in love with your Gucci women and yes, I will be decking out my home office in that wallpaper once it’s available! If you’re going to have a feature wall make a good one, right? Keep me posted on that!
What we love about you here at FF is your down to earth, relaxed approach to your work. If someone is reading this interview now that was interested in starting out in fashion illustration, what classic golden nuggets of advice would you give them?
KF: First, just do it. Stop over thinking everything and just go for it - it will go according to plan but something equally as amazing will come from your belief and hopes.
Second, Get out there and network. Talk about yourself to people! You just never know who may be looking for an illustrator at that exact moment and don’t be shy because no-one else will do it for you
Third, Look at other artists, not just fashion illustrators, but fine artists & filmmakers. They may have styles and techniques which you have never seen before, that you may incorporate into your illustrative styles! Cinematography is a fantastic inspiration too! Think about composition and layout.
Lastly, enjoy it and practice, practice, practice!
KS: Thank you Kitty Fuller for your undivided attention and for being so open about your journey. We adore your work and will be following you attentively.
Kitty Fuller gallery images: @kittyfuller, Mary Katrantzou AW16 catwalk inspired illustration, Alice Temperley: In honour of London Fashion Week SS16, catwalk illustration, Gucci inspired chinoiseries tiger girl
For more information on Kitty Fuller Illustrations please hit contact here