10 Questions with Sella Molenaar
Dutch self-made fashion illustrator Sella Molenaar started her career on markets and festivals and soon she was commisioned by clients as Dolce & Gabbana, L’Officiel & H&M.
Hi Sella, great to have you here with Easter!
1. Tell us something about yourself.
I am a fashion illustrator living and working in Amsterdam Old West, my favorite neighborhood in the city. I’m that girl who was always drawing and made her biggest hobby her profession. This was never initially my plan though, it just kind of happened. I always joke I became an illustrator by accident.
2. How did you get started as an illustrator? Did you go to art school?
No I’m autodidact when it comes to illustration. I always wanted to be a fashion designer so I went to the famous academy in Antwerp but stopped in the first year. After I moved to Amsterdam during my masters in Art History I just desperately needed a job and descided to go draw on festivals and weekend markers for voluntairy donations. Just because I was already always drawing anyway and it seemed so much more fun than working in a cafe or coffee bar. This was in a time that nobody was doing live illustration yet, so I got picked up really quickly. After only two festivals, H&M called to book me for Vogue fashion’s Night out! They had to pay me in gift cards because I wasn’t officially in business and didn't t have a VAT number. That was the time I realised I could turn this into a carreer and something more serious than just a weekend job, and the rest is history. I still look back on those early days with a big smile; it was all about having fun!
3. How would you describe your style? What’s your technical process?
My style is still very defined by the early days where I used to draw on the streets, catwalks or at events so you always have to be quick. Therefor my drawings always have a sense of speed in them. I don’t sketch or use erasors but go straight for the real deal. I often make several versions of one theme and add on tho earlier drawings or take different parts from others till it will emerge into something that feels right for me. I always try to balance technique with a bit of impulsiveness. It are often the little accidents, “faulty” lines and even things that you don't draw that make my illustrations come alive.
4. What do you love most about your job?
The freedom! I love that I can descide when and for who I’m working and scedule my own weeks. I actually love the contrast of the lonely nights working at my studio before deadlines, and the day after when I have nothing to do and can sleep till noon.
5. Who or what inspires you and your work?
Women! I love the female form. My illustrations are always fashionable but if you look at my work you would often see the figures I draw have barely any clothes on! It’s about their silhouette, form, shape, attitude. I get Inspired by women everywehere, people I meet, girls I find on instagram with something weirdly interesting, pictures in magazines, you name it.
6. Which brands do you work for or do you love to work for?
I worked for a whole bunch of clients from high-street brands like H&M and Forever 21 to luxury brands like Dolce Gabbana and Dior and everything in between. I love to work with brands, big or small, that really give you artistic freedom and make you part of the creative proces because that's the most fun and rewarding thing there is. As a freelancer you also just have to pay the bills, so unfortunately you can't always be picky but I would also like to work more with brands who challenge the current gender norms and are aware and concerned with their ecological footprint.
7. What is your favorite thing in the world to illustrate?
8. What’s your dream project?
My dream job would be something like the collaboration Gill Button did with Dries van Noten a while back. My God, that was brilliant!
I would love to work very close with a fashion brand that’s not only aesthetic but also ethically involved in the world and create something like a collection book. Something that really will define the look and feel of that collection.
9. What 3 things you can’t live without?
Slow days at the studio creating free work, love and sunshine.
10. Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists?
Just start! there's always an excuse why you or your work are "not there" yet, but the truth is; it never will. It's a constant proces of trial and error and that's exactly what makes it interesting. As long as you're growing you'll never be finished.
Sella is giving away a fashion illustration workshop! It is on the 24th of April in amsterdam so hurry up!
What to do? Go to instagram ; follow, like and leave a comment why you should win this workshop!