10 Questions with... Vanessa van Meerhaeghe
We are delighted to show the talented Vanessa van Meerhaeghe here. She is an amazing artist inspired by great old masters and contemporary fashion designers. Her style is very feminine, elegant and colorful and her girls always have a strong, nostalgic or sometimes sad look. We love the contrast of that mood with the colorful bold patterns.
1. Hi Vanessa! Tell us something about yourself.
Hi, I’m Vanessa, a fashion designer and illustrator from Belgium. I have three wonderful children and a husband that loves traveling with me. We are also fanatic runners.
2. How did you get started as an illustrator? Education etc.
I’ve had a passion for drawing since a very young age, i grew up with a pencil in my hand. With my drawing skills and an interest in fashion, i went to the royal academy of fine arts to study fashion design.
At that time, 20 years ago, all designs and patterns were still done by hand. I worked as a fashion designer for several year, but after drawing a lot of garments, i missed drawing people. So i went back to the academy -evening courses- of live model drawing and painting.
In 2010,When we were expatriated to Africa (for my husbands career), a started working as a freelance illustrator. At that time, i mostly did digital drawings, that i could send easily to my clients by the internet. When we returned from Africa, i returned to working in fashion, no longer as a designer, but as the head of the creative team. Since then, i no longer do commercial and digital illustrations, i went back to the fine arts in my free time and did what i want. I draw and paint whatever i like (because of my background, mostly fashion related), and my clients now are no longer companies/magazines, but private persons, that want a drawing or painting for their homes. I recently quit the fashion business and i now work for the national television network. I really love my job, but i still need to be painting
3. How would you describe your style, did it change?
My style is very feminine, elegant and colorful. But my girls always have a strong, nostalgic or sometimes sad look. I love the contrast of that mood with the colorful bold patterns. I’s like combining two worlds. My style did change over the years, especially when i went back from digital work to hand drawing again. Maybe it grew with me..
4. What’s your technical/creative process?
I always start with a pencil drawing, sometimes a small sketch (depending on the inspiration source), before i color. My favorite medium is acrylic paint. The colors are great and it dries quickly. I recently started working with ink, and i love it. Before, i think the gap between my drawings and my paintings was rather big, but since i’ve started working with ink, i think they match better. I never worked much with ink before, so i am still in an experimenting phase.
5. Who or what inspires you and your work?
No surprise i get a lot of my inspiration from fashion. Dries van Noten, a real color and patterns artist, is a great source of inspiration. When i’m stuck on color combo’s, i go see Dries’ collections and very often, i have more inspo than i need . But i also admire some great classic painters. Klimt, my favorite, but also picasso, and of course Henri Matisse, who’s work is so fashion related. The contemporary artists i admire are Elisabeth peyton and Chantal Joffe. I love the disproportions in their work, it has a lot of character. When i try to do something like that, it just looks like a fail, hahaha.
6. Which brands do you work for or do you love to work for?
I am currently not working for brands, but i wouldn’t say no to painting a fashion campaign . I do lots of commissioned work, and personal portraits. The possibilities are endless, as long as i can keep my style.
7. What is your favorite thing in the world to illustrate and why?
Women. I don’t know why, it just comes naturally. Women are beautiful. Altough i’m trying to introduce some men in my drawings now...
8. Name 3 things you can't live without?
My family, a cup of coffee in the morning, and my running shoes (my sketchbook would be too obvious ;-) )
9. Any new creative plans this year? expositions? books? collaborations?
I’ve been approached for a group exposition, but it’s not confirmed yet, so i can’t say more. There also might be a project for fashion week. Besides that, i want to do some big scale paintings.
10. Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists?
Yes, be true to yourself. Sometimes, people love your work and they want a personalized piece, but they ask you to do something different than what you do. Don’t accept it, you will never be happy with that piece.
You can follow Vanessa on instagram here.