Lauren Elise Sutcliffe is a 22-year-old student from Sunderland (born and bred). Ambitious, kooky, and hugely talented. Loves: her Bichon Frise puppy Claude, the colour pink, and anything that sparkles. It’s no wonder she was snapped up by La Di Da magazine as their newest fashion illustrator. She truly brings fashion to life in her drawings and we took the chance to talk to Lauren about her inspirations and her promising future.
When did you first start drawing fashion illustrations?
When I first started secondary school, around the age when I started becoming more image conscious. I stopped buying pick ‘n’ mixes with my pocket money and instead would save up for magazines. I remember being fascinated by the red carpet pictures of celebrities; you know the pages where they pick out the best dressed from glamorous events. Halle Berry’s dress by Elie Saab that she wore to the 2002 Oscars is the one dress that sparked my love for fashion. I used to think that I’d love to be the person who designed it, so I made up these half-human half-insect people in my head (yes, I know that’s weird!) and I would sit for hours and hours drawing them in the most over the top, intricate evening gowns.
Do you consider it a natural gift or is something that takes practice?
Well I think it all depends on your personality, but I believe you’re either born with a flair for drawing or you’re not. I’m naturally a creative person so will try my hand at anything that involves art and design. However, drawing is something I’ve always loved and always will. I look back at drawings now from when I was in school, and at the time I thought they were great! The more you draw, the better you get, which is the same for anything, really. Practice makes perfect.
Do you take inspiration from other illustrations/illustrators or is it all from your imagination?
I have developed my own style over the years, but there’s definitely some illustrators who have been a huge influence on me and my work. Camille Rose Garcia’s work is just amazing, I love the way she uses colour, and the amount of time that must go into putting the detail on the illustrations is just insane. A good illustration is a one that holds your attention and makes you stop and admire it, instead of just looking at it, and Camille Rose Garcia is brilliant at that. David Downton is another favourite of mine. He manages to capture the essence of a garment, like its structure and how it moves when it’s worn, even though his illustrations are quite minimalistic. I like to think my work is a mixture of these two illustrators – it is cartoonish, detailed and colourful like CRG’s work, but has a more fluid style and a realistic element like Downton’s.
What prospects has this given you in terms of your career?
Experience. Experience is everything in this industry, and getting your name out there is the first step to building a repertoire and a reputation that makes you desirable to other potential employers. This job at La Di Da is the first step on what I hope is a very tall, exciting ladder!
Tell me more about the La Di Da magazine position? What does your job entail?
I am in charge of creating fashion illustrations for the magazine (and have also been asked to contribute fashion features), but will be doing some typography work too. When you’re an illustrator, you don’t just draw pretty pictures from your imagination. Briefs are usually strict, which can be challenging when you’re a creative person, as you are so used to letting your imagination go wild. My first brief was to draw a front row line-up of the most influential people in the North-East. The hardest part of that was to capture the facial features of each person, so that people who would be able to recognise who they are when they saw themselves in the magazine.
Would you like this to be a long term career or do you have other aspirations?
I definitely see myself in a job with a creative role, not necessarily illustration, although I’d always do that on the side. Writing is my other love too, so a job where I could combine the two would be a dream come true. When I finally graduate, I plan on focusing on freelancing and designing a range of products that I can sell on Etsy, such as greetings cards, printed canvases and maybe even printed fabrics with my illustrations on. However, if I could choose to have any job, it would be a fashion designer, specialising in evening wear. I was originally going to go to Northumbria University to study Fashion Design, but had to turn the opportunity down as I was too poorly to travel or to move to Newcastle to be closer to the design campus.
Who is your favourite illustrator and why?
At the moment, my favourite illustrator is Valfre. Her work is so fun and cheeky, and really captures the essence of the fashion scene right now. People are becoming more experimental with their image, and Valfre takes inspiration from street style and “normal” girls, instead of high fashion, and that to me is really refreshing.
Do you think it’s a skill that should be encouraged in younger people, who can then contribute to the website?
Of course. Young people need to be encouraged to focus on the things they’re good at, who cares if it isn’t conventional? I don’t understand why choosing to focus on art from a young age, instead of something like maths or science (zzzz!!!), is sneered at. Talents should be nurtured, whatever they are.
What’s your favourite thing about living in the North East?
It’s so cheap, and affordable, that’s why is become a student mecca! I don’t appreciate it until I leave and visit somewhere like London, where the price of a tube ticket is the price of what I’d spend on drinks in Sunderland on a night out.
Where’s your favourite place to shop?
I don’t have one favourite place to shop in all honesty! I shop all over, and find that different stores do different clothes better. For coats and jackets, H&M is great and the prices are purse-friendly. Topshop does leather and jeans the best, Warehouse is the place to go when I want something really special, and I hate to admit it, but you can rarely go wrong with Primark. They have an amazing heart print tea dress in at the minute for £8, and it’s a copy of a Burberry AW13 piece!