Artist in the spotlight – David Downton

David Downton is one of today’s most well known fashion illustrators, his work has appeared on the covers of several publications, and used for advertisements the world over, not to mention all the celebrities he has personally drawn. It is the remarkable attention to detail and awareness of space and lines, which makes his work so unique and stunning. Downton never set out to be a fashion illustrator, as he was never originally interested in fashion. He worked as a freelance illustrator for 15 years, doing small illustrations for a range of subjects; his first job was drawing the cover of “Which Computer” magazine back in the 80s. Downton’s spectacular approach to drawing led him to produce fashion images for various clients, and in 1996 he was sent to draw at the Paris Haute Couture shows for a magazine. Despite his lack of interest in fashion illustration in the early years of his career, he has always appreciated them as artists, and notably loved and admired the work of Gruau, Antonio and Eric.

The style in which Downton illustrates is wonderfully unique. He draws like any other artist; mirroring what he sees. But once his work looks right, he eliminates parts so it looks spontaneous and ironically, uncontrolled. Downton works mostly in water-colour or gauche, but for larger artworks he tends to use cut paper collage and proceeds to apply line using an acetate overlay.

During his career he has drawn various celebrities; Erin O’Connor, Catherine Deneuve, Liz Hurley, Jerry Hall, Paloma Picasso, Joan Collins, Dita von Teese, Iman, Linda Evangelista, twiggy and notable fashion designers.

In an interview, Downton spoke of his opinion towards fashion.
“Couture really is a parallel universe – I’ve heard it described as the kingdom of indulgence, which is true, but it is also extremely inspiring for an artist or illustrator; the worlds most beautiful women, designers working without constraint – the sheer theatricality of it all – there is a lot to draw!”

His works remind me of early vogue covers, but with modern attributes. Each illustration is delicate, personal and tastefully elegant.

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