Yesterday I went to FIG’s art fair near Bond Street above Rupert Sanderson. I went for inspiration and to look at different styles and techniques. I knew that original work and limited prints by many artists were on sale, but I had no idea that I would be meeting and chatting to both David Downton and Jason Brooks!!
Both have carved the visual language used in fashion illustration, definitely for my generation.
I remember seeing Jason’s work long ago, when digital illustration techniques were still uncharted territory. The first thing I noticed about his work was: Damn. He draws some quite attractive ladies. The second thing I thought was: How has he communicated so much with only a few simple lines?
The body language, pretty faces, attitude and personality all in a few lines. To express so much with so little, he really has the skill of discarding all the non-essential elements right down to the essence.
He was drawing a lady at the fair and it looked awesome, so when he finished and looked round and said, does anyone want a go? I leapt for it. It didn’t take all that long and he used a brush pen. After he finished the drawing, he told me it was a pleasure drawing me (!) and I asked him about how have comic books influenced him.
He spoke about how he is working on a sketchbook about Paris to be released sometime soon. I’d love to his style in a comic book.
After the commission I went over to David Downton and said to him, I saw your Cate Blanchett and Julia Roberts pieces and they blew me away.
He then replied that, although you see the one image, at home there are countless unsuccessful attempts. He then used his hands to gesture the size of the pile of paper discarded.
I asked him if he was doing commissions and he said that he didn’t have the self confidence that Jason does and that he finds it hard when people are circling him and asking questions to paint at the same time, which made me chuckle.
But regardless of that, his final pieces have such an inspiring dynamism and a forgotten elegance that it makes all the hard work and unsuccessful attempts worth it.
Using watercolours myself I know that there is a serious skill at controlling or knowing the way the colour in the water spreads when using a brush, which is not something that a computer can mimic, even with the top of the range Wacom tablets.
They were both very pleasant to chat with and very down to earth.
Their contrasting styles are like the flip sides of the same coin, but they’re both modern masters when it comes to the field of fashion illustration.