The Secrets to becoming a Fashion Illustrator with Bil Donovan

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In December, I had the incredible opportunity at Saks in Bal Harbour Shops to meet Bil Donovan, one of the greatest fashion illustrators of our time. He was live sketching at an exclusive event for Christian Dior Beauty where VIP clients got a Dior makeover and a beautiful sketch after their makeovers. I surprised my mother-in-law Martha with a Dior makeover and I watched as one of my heroes sketched someone I love. He painted her using Dr. Ph. Martin’s inks. Remember, some of the most fulfilling experiences in life are making others’ dreams come true; caring for someone else reminds you that you’re not the center of the universe. #BeAwesomeToSomeone. After the sketch was completed, I asked him if had any advice for young fashion illustrators.

Three things I learned from Bil Donovan:

Keep doing what I am doing! That day, I was also doing live sketching at Les Exclusifs event for CHANEL! [Future blog post coming soon]. I was humbled when Bil Donovan told me to keep working hard, to network, and to hustle harder.

Go to figure drawing classes and draw EVERY DAY. When I lived in New York, I attended Sketch Nights sessions at the Society of Illustrators on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Here in Miami at UM’s Rainbow building, there is a figure drawing group that draws from life models every Saturday morning. It is very important to draw every single day. Find a figure drawing group in your city. If not, start your own with friends– that’s what my illustrator friends and I did at Ringling College of Art and Design!

When live sketching clients, make sure to focus on drawing, keep talking to a minimum, and let the client lead the conversation. When I sketch clients, I love to get to know the person I am sketching but it’s really hard to talk and sketch. Watching how Bil focused on the illustration versus talking to his subject was great learning experience. Special thanks to Saks Fifth Avenue at Bal Harbour Shops for this opportunity.

Action Step:
Find an artist or influencer you love and reach out to them. Ask them questions through email, DM, or at their events (if you’re lucky to attend). Don’t be afraid, they are human and they were once in your shoes. Share your experience with me on instagram by tagging your photo #Sandraluciadraws

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for more pics of my in-store live sketching sessions, illustrations, and more!

Photography  by Chris Ramos 

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