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Sunday, 28 August 2011


We all have something we enjoy doing, but have you ever considered you could actually make a living out of your interests and hobbies?! Fashion illustrator Jennifer Lilya tells us how…
Words // Louise Dawson.
Photography // Zack

We all have something we enjoy doing – something we are interested in. But what happens when we want to make a career out of it? This is exactly what Jennifer Lilya decided to do and she now runs a business called Lilya Fashion Illustrations, and by now has clientele such as Elle magazine and Katy Perry on her books.

Jennifer working at her work station in NYC.
Jennifer first realised she could make a career out of her passion for drawing when she enrolled in the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

“Ever since I was a little girl, my favourite thing to do was to draw pretty pictures! I knew that I didn’t want to do anything else, so I enrolled at FIT for their wonderful fashion illustration program.”

Here she realised that it was a possibility, that she could make a career out of something she had always enjoyed doing. Once she knew she was able to make something of drawing Barbie dolls, fashion models and pop stars, she became determined to make it happen one way or another.

To be able to make a living from all sorts of hobbies including fashion illustration, Jennifer insists you need to enjoy what you are doing:

“You need to have a innate passion for it and a little something special inside to begin with – a certain flair or fresh style. That passion and talent can grow into something magical with practice and hard work. You just have to realize that you have it in you and then work to make something out of it.”

Breaking into any industry is hard work, but now more than ever while times are tough and people remain critical you really need to work hard to get yourself noticed. But please don’t let this put you off - there are ways to get yourself a range of potential customers.  You will notice that most businesses, and freelancers, whatever their trade will have an online website. The simple reason being that in doing so you are making your work available to people all over the world at a click of a mouse. If the thought of making an official web page sounds scary, then why not just start with a blog! From there you can let potential buyers and fans get to know you whilst also being able to commission you for your work.

In creating a blog or a website, you can also work from home rather than having to pay for an office, studio, store or workspace a.k.a freelance rather than start an actual business. This can save you thousands on rent, bills, tax etc. meaning that every penny you earn can go straight into investing in more goods to continue with your trade and the rest can go straight into  your pocket - sounds great I know!

If your talents like in a creative or arty trade then exhibitions are also a great way to get your work noticed. You may have to rent out a space (but it pays to ask around to see if anyone can help you out without any financial requirements – take your local library for example!) Exhibitions reach followers and fans of your work, people passing by who may never have heard of you before  - but wanted to have a look at what is to show as well as other artists, journalists, and people who work in the same industry who can all help spread word of you and your work.

 Another thing to do to help get recognised is to make and keep a list of contacts. Networking is extremely important when you want to get yourself noticed. If you attend the right parties and make ‘friends’ with the right people you could definitely be on your way to success. They may be able to help you in any problems you may have in establishing yourself or your business, and help you network through meeting other people. Remember that the more people who know about your work – the more potential buyers you will get in return.

As for Jennifer, she said:
“ I’ve always had steady work, but right now I’m getting a lot of recognition due to my strong online presence.  My audience has grown dramatically over the past few years and I love it. I think that people and clients are drawn to my traditional, yet modern, illustration style.”

If you really want to start a business or freelancing career out of your hobby but aren’t sure how to go about it, or maybe just not sure on what angle you want to take on it, then it is also a very good idea to apply for internships. Okay, so you may have to make more coffees during your internship then you ever will throughout the rest of your life, you will get to see how a professional works, and what kind of industry and environment they work in… more importantly however, how they make all of that work to their advantage. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to get a placement where you actually are able to get involved.

When starting any business or freelancing, you need to find something special about your work that you can market to the general public. With fashion illustration for example, the trade is slowly but surely re-emerging, meaning Jennifer has had to ensure her work fits the available criteria’s whilst still delivering a fresh and innovative flair in her sketches.
“Fashion illustration tends to be cyclical… and right now we’re seeing a re-emergence of it in a really strong way. I think people are craving something a little different and fun again!”

“Fashion illustrations are wonderfully expressive. They can tell a story and create a fantasy surrounding the garment and the person wearing it.”

[Text Box]Describing her own work as fun, fabulous, cool charming and witty, Jennifer is inspired by other illustrators and designers such as Antonio Lopez, Rene Gruau, Jean Michel Basquait, Warhol and anything thing else she see’s that is ‘poppy’ and fun.  She also said that what she draws is totally dependant on the season – which does actually make a lot of sense for a fashion illustrator, as after all you need to keep up with trends – and who wouldn’t want to spend their time aweing over gorgeous outfits?! Exactly – I couldn’t think of anyone either!

“Right now I’m really into Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. Next season I’ll be really into something else – that’s the exciting thing about fashion illustration – there’s always something new to be inspired by!”

She captures the essence of the designs adored by fashionistas worldwide at fashion week through various techniques of sketching and painting:

“My favourite technique is using acrylic paint in very loose washes, along with black ink lines to highlight shapes. I do everything by hand on paper.”

This is what Jennifer offers to potential and existing customers; she specializes her technique and produces beautiful drawings that sell well, really showing how you really can make a career out of something you enjoy doing if you’re serious about it and work hard.

Jennifer commented on why she thinks her drawings sell so well by saying:

“Fashion illustrations bring such life and energy to a garment, a collection, a product. It creates a story for the reader/ viewer to immerse themselves & get lost in. Pure fashion fantasy!” – From this statement alone you can see how enthused Jennifer is in what she does, which in a way speaks for its own accomplishment.

She went on to talk about the perks of being self-employed in a trade she adores:
Every day is a new adventure! I have freedom to make my own hours and to choose my own projects. I work with interesting clients and learn new things from each assignment. I’m also deliriously happy being able to paint for hours every day. It’s pretty amazing.”

It comes in handy if you have documented your work from the very beginning. Make copies of everything you give away of get commissioned, and keep all of them as well as original sketches or pictures you may have done for your own enjoyment. They can come in handy for showing how your work has progressed, to be looked back on for ideas and to be kept portfolios to show those who are interested in commissioning you.

According to Jennifer this is the best thing to do as it means you practice – and there is that old saying that practice makes perfect! She urges everyone to practice and wants to tell all future artists, illustrators and designers:

Draw, draw, draw. And then draw some more! Figure out your unique style and take it from there.  Take advantage of all the free online portfoliosites to get your work into the public eye.”

Coroflot, Behance, and Fashion Industry Network are great online portfolios to start with. It is safe to say that once you get the ball rolling, the realisation of what you can actually achieve will hit you.

“I’ve worked with Elle, Women’s Wear Daily, Katy Perry, Travel & Leisure and Mimma Ninni. My client list keeps growing by the day and I love the wide variety of clients and projects that come my way.”

“I have a ton of projects on my plate right now – helping to design a line of clothes, a bunch of illustrations for blogs & websites and personal commissions. I’ve started collaborating with some great artists, so I’ll be featuring those on my sites when the time comes. I’m also planning an exhibit in Brooklyn this November.”

In the midst of working hard to achieve your goals, Jennifer presses how important it is to keep inspiration flowing. This is why she makes time for other hobbies amongst her illustrations such as making collages, going for walks around NYC, listening to good music, people watching, going to rock shows, art galleries and museums. In doing so you can really get the most out of your creativity whilst learning more about your environment and the sort of industry you are in. So try not to swamp yourself under too many commissions and business meetings just yet!

Now you know that it is in fact possible to reach your dreams by earning a living out of what you enjoy in life, have a think about exactly what you want to do, and start by making a little plan of what angle you want to take on your passion, and how you are going to go about starting it off. Get blogging to document your work online so people worldwide can enjoy your hard work – believe me, you’ll soon be enjoying the benefits.  Your opportunities are endless if you work hard, so what are you waiting for… go and get yourself started!

If you want to find out more about Jennifer Lilya at Lilya Fashion Illustrations then please visit her website:


Monday, 22 August 2011


Every woman who knows a little about make up, whether she's five or fifty, will be able to show you how to do a smoky eye. In saying this I am not suggesting you go and let the nearest five year old give you a makeover... simply making a point here people. 

The routine of the smoky eye once grasped is quite easy, you choose three shades - a basic for your lid, a slightly darker one for the base and an even darker one for the crease. But this fall, get ready for a new take on the smoky eye. Its simple, Its stunning and overall effortless. (Perfect for when your running late in the mornings!) Take a look: 

The best thing about this is that it looks great whether you want a makeup look for a day at the desk or a night at the bar. The photos above are of LANVIN'S models at his FALL 2011 collection. The trick is to keep your makeup palette fresh and nude. i.e. if you must use facial makeup then stick to foundation, concealer... steer clear of bronzer - instead use a dab of blusher cream to give your skin a fresh glow. Then choose one colour (LANVIN stuck to neutral greys and black) and dab it on around the corner of your eye. You can use the crease of your eye as a guideline for this, stay inside it rather than above and don't venture too much onto the lid! To finish the look off, use some waterproof mascara (It is fall after all, so there is a chance it could rain!) and a dab of lip balm to keep your lips from chapping in the cold.

Friday, 19 August 2011

Midi Dresses Are For All Year Round - NOT Just For Summer.

The weather is getting a little colder - depending on where in the word you are right now, you may have already packed away your sandals... but whatever you do, leave your midi dresses alone. They certainly do not need to be should not be stashed under your bed for the next six months. Whoever told you not to wear midi dresses in the winter was quite frankly, without trying to be rude - full of crap. 

So to prove my point that you can wear midi dresses come winter - I decided to make a couple of outfit ideas ... remember these are only a few suggestions. Layering works best when you play around with what you've got. Think like a kid when you dress yourself - to an extent: layering looks good when you throw a bunch of stuff together that have something in common - colour for example. 

These are my two favourite looks for Winter 2011. Just love the head wear! The dress is the same in both looks - and also just £11 in Primark!

LOOK ONE : ALTERNATIVE                                                           LOOK TWO: SMART CHIC

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

So basically, I would love for you all to be super lovely today and do me a massive favour... all you have to do is nominate me for the Cosmo blog awards 2011. It literally takes two seconds - and I will be so happy if you could. Here is the link: 

If you do nominate me, then please put me under the category as a 'new' fashion blog - I just fit into that category as I have only be running for 17 months... yay. 


Crochet Squares - Fashions Next BIG Thing.

Every season, there are a few designers who above all want strike the fashion front with a bit of frivolity - and although some collections may seem a little robust, they are never greeted with anything less  than a huge round of applause from the audiences that are sat on the edge of their seats throughout the show. Frivolous fashion was once ridiculed, now however the more 'outside the box' the better. Think of Lady Gaga for example... okay, so I would never get away with wearing half the things she does (probably because I have quite a few more lady lumps than she does) ... but although once ridiculed, she stuck to her guns and is now hailed in all her glory when it comes to best dressed in fashion events. Lets face it - people always remember her outfits... she does make an impact. 

This season, one of the many design houses who thought outside the box were those at the HOUSE OF HOLLAND. Its granted that his collection wont have been to everyone's taste, but I love it. I crotchet myself and have decided to make it my aim (much to my boyfriends dismay) to make myself a jumper / tube skirt or jacket to allow myself to become part of this edgy trend.

One of my favourite style icons of the moment - Nicola Roberts has recently been spotted in a HOUSE OF HOLLAND maxi dress - proving that crochet squares are not just for grannies! 

If you watch this video a few times... you too will see how easy it actually is, and will soon join me in getting your crochet freak - on.


Monday, 15 August 2011

Stella Tennant for H&M proves there is a God after all...

As some of you may already be aware - Stella Tennant will be featured in Zara's fall 2011 collection. As clothes are currently hitting the shops for winter, I thought I would show you what you can expect, so you can try to spot something for the collection next time you find yourself coveting the rails in Zara.

These are not all the designs - its just a little sneak peak, but I have already fallen in love with all of it. If ONLY I could start from scratch and have my whole entire winter wardrobe from Zara this up and coming season. Texture, Style, Grace & a million different looks from a hand full of items - what more could you possibly want? (Money to buy it all with does not count as an answer to that question!)


YSL to copy Louboutin?

If you, like me were brought up to recognize that red soled shoes were signs of money, style and above all the trademark of Christian Louboutin... then you may, like me be appalled that YSL have recently been found out to have plans to copy the trademark. 

Louboutin requested in court that YSL will be stopped from featuring red soles on shoes in its Spring / Summer collection for 2012.  Having had this request denied in court, Louboutin's lawyer has recently announced they have appealed the judges decision - and will 'fight like hell' to ensure that red soles remain a sign of Louboutin shoes. 

The Judge has allowed YSL to continue producing the red - soled shoes set to appear in next years Spring / Summer line, and it has been said that he also hinted that Louboutins unwritten rights to the colour may be coming to an end.

After all - there is no law to say that YSL can not use red soles, but there is more of an unwritten rule. I personally say it is a matter of respect. Every woman who knows anything about fashion will be able to tell you that red soled shoes = Christian Louboutin. If I were a designer I would certainly not like to be associated with having copied someonelse's trademark - and this is sure to be stigma that will be associated with YSL if they are given the 'all clear' to go ahead with their shoes.

All there is to do now is to wait for the courts decision. In the mean time - I would urge all designers to copyright their designs! Lets hope that copying does not become a trend to stick in the limelight amongst the fashion industry!


Monday, 1 August 2011

TREND ALERT: Winter 2011 - Graphic Tartan.

One trend in particular I think most people have overlooked since the days of 'Clueless' is tartan. Well its back and set to take over the fashion front this winter.  But how do you get it right without looking like your trying to re - live the days of the (formerly adored) clueless character Cher Horowitz... well its simple really: 

First of all, you will need to dig out the tartan - before you start making excuses, I don't care whether or not you bought it willingly, or if it was forced on you by a friend or grandmother who has no clue about fashion trends - because now, it is back in fashion (and you will need it if you want to make your winter wardrobe to die for this up and coming season.)

If you honestly do not have any tartan hiding in a suitcase under your bed, or in a taped up box in the attic, then fear not... tartan will not yet be available in most shops as their still getting rid of their summer stock, but you can get your hands on some in charity shops or fabric shops.

Secondly you may want to re - vamp it a little. Forget heritage, tartan is meant to look edgy this winter. So go to your closest haberdashery, fabric store or general DIY store and invest in some fabric dye - the brighter and more hideous looking the better. (Yes, faded neon  or even clashing tartan would have put you right at the bottom of the fashion know how ladder once upon a time, but edgy means quirky, unusual and cool so the brighter and more unusual looking the better.

If you don't feel like getting your hands dirty or if you just have no time to run around dying tartans, then please don't think that you can not be fashionable this fall. You can achieve the 'edgy colourful' look by adding on bright accessories - think brightly colour shoe laces, gloves, skinny belts etc. The bonuses are that it will take less time than dying fabric, and you can vary the accessories to what colour you fancy or mood your in each and every day. 

So now you have your graphic / colourful tartan at the ready... what are you supposed to do with it? Well that's the easiest part of all, tartan is going to be fashionable as every item of clothing you can imagine - think trousers, dresses, parachute skirts, shorts, ponchos, bags, jackets, coats and even tshirts! So the choice really is your own. Just whatever you do, do not make a matching suit - I meant it when I suggested the days of Cher Horowitz were over.