10 Questions with Dena Cooper
We are delighted to have Brooklyn based fashion illustrator Dena Cooper here. She describes her style as a softer version of the truth, with bursts of realism and flares or blooms of paint to convey an element of artistry that the camera just can’t capture. We are in love with her fashion icons!
1. Hi Dena, great to have you here! Tell us something about yourself.
Hi, I’m Dena, a Brooklyn based fashion illustrator. I live with my husband and cat in a great space that I’m lucky enough to call my home and studio.
2. How did you get started as an illustrator? education etc.
As I’m sure is the same with many artists, my entire life has been dedicated to my artwork and growing as a creative. I drew and painted and created and imagined constantly as a child and was lucky enough to learn the arts in high school, college and beyond.
Originally, I had a fear of becoming the dreaded ‘starving artist’ and was keen to find a practical outlet for my skill. I went to school for fashion design and started my career designing womenswear. It wasn’t long before I realized how creatively unfulfilling I found the design process and coincidently met an illustrator who changed my perspective on the practicality of freelance art.
I bought my first set of watercolors and began experimenting with fashion illustration in a more fine art light and I’ve never looked back. It took me a few years to perfect my technique and build a portfolio, but before long I began making contacts and started working as a full-time freelancer.
3. How would you describe your style?
I think my style is a really uptight version of watercolor. I would love to be a free spirit and let the colors flow and bleed organically but that’s something that causes me a lot of anxiety, as silly as it sounds. I’m a graphite artist at heart and my watercolor reflects a lot of those same skills as far as blending and values.
4. What’s your technical/creative process?
I generally start with a detailed pencil drawing making sure to get the shapes and values just right and then I add watercolor over top which usually washes out most of the pencil lines. I then scan and touch-up the work in Photoshop, where I like to add splashes of color in the background to tie the piece together.
5. Who or what inspires you and your work?
I get so much of my inspiration from the runway and the fashion industry as a whole. A few of my favorite designers are Giambattista Valli, Delpozo, Dries Van Noten and of course the heavy hitters like Dior and Valentino. I’ve always had a love of fashion and I’m so glad I can celebrate that through my artwork.
6. Which brands do you work for or do you love to work for?
I’ve had some amazing clients over the last few years - some I never would have dreamed would contact me for artwork. I did a really fun live illustration event at Sephora for Miu Miu and it was a dream! I’ve also worked with e.l.f. Cosmetics and Christian Siriano for a collaboration that was a lot of fun.
7. What is your favorite thing in the world to illustrate?
FACES! I love drawing and painting portraits. There’s something about each face that presents a challenge to get every feature just right that I adore.
8. Name 3 things you can't live without?
Coffee in the morning, a good skincare routine, and true crime podcasts while I paint.
9. Any new creative plans for 2018? expositions? books? collaborations?
2018 has already brought so many great surprises! I was signed with my dream agency, IllustrationLtd. and had an amazing collaboration with a few of my dear artist friends, Kei Meguro and Alex Saba of Lusid Art. I don’t have anything specific planned other than building my portfolio with more editorial leaning work and experimenting with my style in new mediums.
10. Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists?
"No matter what the obstacles are in front of you, keep pushing forward and learning and growing as an artist. You really never know when your big break will come and you only get the things you ask for in life, especially as an artist".
Thank you Dena!
Dena offers one 8x10 print of this sweet 'Sugar' illustration. What to do? Follow the insta account of iloveillustration and tag 3 friends. The winner will be picked after this weekend!