I know I’ve been telling all of you that I met some amazing artists during New York fashion Week. One them is Dena Cooper, an illustrator with talent to spare, as you can see from the images above. Every single image is made by Dena and she graciously allowed me to share them with you. We met waiting in line at the Mimi Prober show and got to talking. I asked her what she did and as soon as she told me she was an illustrator I was intrigued.
Most people you meet at fashion week are bloggers or photographers, meeting an illustrator at fashion week was a first for me. I asked her if she would be drawing during the show, but she told me she lets the atmosphere wash over her and draws afterwards at home. A few days after the show, I e-mailed Dena and asked if she would be willing to share her work on my site. Thankfully, she said “Yes!”- and she even answered a few questions.
S: How did you get into illustrating (where did you study)?
D: I went to school for fashion design at Radford University in Virginia. I originally came to New York in search for a job in design and ultimately worked for Calvin Klein designing sportswear. As much as I loved design, it ended up being much more of a desk job and less of the creative outlet that I was looking for. After being diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease I resigned from Calvin Klein and took some much needed rest at home. It was during my days at home feeling exhausted and drained that I started illustrating and I’ve never looked back.
S: Is illustrating your full-time job?
D: After almost two years of freelance illustrating, I am now a full-time illustrator. I have many clients that I work with on a continual basis and it has been both exciting and fulfilling to find new projects and prospective clients to grow my illustration business. I’ve set up a great studio space in my Brooklyn apartment and I love waking up to fresh coffee and a blank canvas (figuratively as I paint in watercolor!).
S: How did you end up at NYFW?
D: It was on a whim that I decided I couldn’t bare to miss out on yet another fashion week. I started by collecting contacts for some of my favorite designers and for shows I was interested in seeing. I created a well-formed email and I sent it out to everyone on the list asking to take part in fashion week as an illustrator. The response I got was overwhelmingly positive. I didn’t expect to be invited to so many shows but I made it to 15 total – some as an illustrator and some as a guest. I’m still working on illustrations from fashion week but you can see my progress on Instagram! @denacooperillustration
S: What is your favorite illustration you’ve ever done?
D: This is a tricky one because I’m very fickle and I tend to change my mind about my own work often. One of the most difficult aspects of being a professional illustrator for me (or any creative for that matter) is keeping a creative eye without being too critical of myself. It’s a constant inner battle that I struggle with daily. I think my favorite illustration at the moment would have to be the latest Dior portrait I created as an entry for the latest Draw a Dot. competition. I love painting portraits and trying to capture the essence of an individual is challenging but rewarding.
S: What are your career goals?
D: I try to give myself short term goals in order to constantly move forward which has been very successful so far. My next big goal is to sign with an agency. Agencies can bring you a much more commercial client base and provide your work with more coverage and visibility. If I had one ultimate goal as an illustrator it would be to see my work in Vogue one day. For me that would be the ultimate success.
Thanks again, Dena! I hope we’ll be able to work together again in the future. What do you guys think? Let us know in the comments below.