Book Review | Anna Kiper, Fashion Illustration

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David and Charles, 2011 | ISBN 978-0-7513-3618-2. Available from the publisher here.

This review isn’t long, but that’s absolutely no indication of my regard for Fashion Illustration.  I can’t remember how I found it, not for the life of me – but I’ve hung on tightly to it ever since.

This is a superb book for illustrating adults, children, and a wide variety of fabrics and textures.  Figure drawing fundamentals sit very comfortably with mixed media experimentation.  If you’re wondered about ways to capture textured or piled fabrics, jewellery, sequins, beads or knitwear, this book will have something to inspire you.  It is both a reference book and a techniques book, and amazingly compact considering the range of content covered.

You’ll get the most out of Fashion Illustration if you have a solid understanding of mark-making; how to vary the pressure, grip, and angle of your drawing or painting tools.  This knowledge bank ensures that the techniques and strokes applied (Kiper’s style is very lively, in that her illustrations are full of emotion and character) will be less of a mystery.  Your (muscle) memory will help you much more than you might expect.  If you don’t have a lot of experience with sketching or any kind of mark-making, be well prepared to experiment outside of your comfort zone – although this applies to any creative person, less experienced artists need to be especially fearless and curious.

As with all artistic pursuits, experimentation is the key to success, and there is absolutely no doubt that the willingness to take time for this has made Anna Kiper as versatile as she is talented.  The range of media she uses is fabulous, and I love her choices and practical approach.  As someone who detests acrylic paint or gouache, I’m delighted to miss it!  Her focus on marker pens and water-based pigments emphasise the importance of colour matching and speed, neither of which are strengths of acrylics or oils.  You want the colour you mix to not change when it’s dry (acrylic), and you don’t have all day or week to wait for it to dry (oils).

Today I'm sharing one of my absolute favourite books on illustration.  It's a short review, but I've loved Anna Kiper's work for a long time.

This book is also a great choice for someone who’s looking for a specialist area of illustration or wants to try a different genre.  The fine art foundation (there’s no collage in here) makes Fashion Illustration a beautiful gift to yourself or someone else because you’ll see familiar media and materials used in a completely different way in a brand new context.  There are helpful tips and notes on every single page. Every double-page spread has words of wisdom in an unassuming paragraph of text, peppered sparingly to let the illustrations do most of the talking.  This is one of my favourite illustration books, hands down.

I’ll be back with another of Anna Kiper’s books after the Easter break. I might post something a bit different in the meantime, but if not, have a restful holiday if you’re taking time off work. And thank you for keeping me company this quarter!

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