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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

An interview with illustrator Faye West, as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration

Faye West is a wonderful fashion illustrator who has been contributing to Amelia's Magazine for several years. Since she was featured in ACOFI lots of exciting things have happened, and 2012 looks set to be an even better year for this talented gal.

Written by Amelia Gregory

(Commision which came about from Amelia's Mag feature) by faye west
Commission which came about from Amelia’s Magazine feature, by Faye West.

Faye West‘s whimsical watercolours first came to my attention nearly four years ago when she had just graduated from university. Since then a lot has changed, but her unique take on fashion illustration remains the same – beautiful, timeless and finally gaining the recognition it deserves. Since appearing in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration 2011 has been a busy year for Faye and 2012 looks set to be even more so, with a big move to London imminent. Time to check in with one of Amelia’s Magazine’s most prolific and delightful contributors…

My Fave 'Amelia's' piece by Faye West
Faye West‘s favourite illustration for me. This was to illustrate the Gossypium dress and bag that comes free with issue 10 of Amelia’s Magazine, and appears in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

You first came to my attention several years ago when you delivered some gorgeous (and yummy) hand decorated cupcakes to my door – what prompted the idea and what persuaded you to get in touch again last year?
My London College of Fashion friends finished their Fashion Journalism degree with a bit more of a clue in what was going on than I had (Faye studied at Fashion Promotion and Illustration at University for the Creative Arts), and knew Amelia’s Magazine was highly illustrative so we devised a plan to woo you with illustrated cupcakes. I had always meant to follow it up with some illustrations, but it was before I was twitter-conscious and the next brief I happened to see was in fact the ACOFI, or Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration open brief.

Faye west Cupcakes
Those infamous cupcakes! I wish I had taken a better photo… alas they have long since been demolished…

Florian-Jayet-by-Faye-West
Florian Jayet S/S 2012 by Faye West for Amelia’s Magazine.

How has producing fashion illustrations for Amelia’s Magazine and ACOFI developed your perception of the fashion and illustration worlds?
It has basically been a way to stay working to briefs, in the way you do as a student. It’s very hard to stay motivated without someone else setting you a brief because you are only doing self-authored work which tends to get a bit stale. The variety of images you then produce are so wide and interesting that your work just evolves through all the experimentation. Amelia’s Magazine is almost like a giant spider gram of illustration opportunities.

Finalist entry for V Mag Gaga comp
Finalist entry for V Magazine Lady Gaga competition.

You’ve just launched a sexy new website, what prompted the redesign?
I wanted to get a website up and running that was a bit more of a platform for my pieces, almost as though someone had decorated a Faye West shop for all of my work to be displayed or sold in. It was also a little challenge to myself to get to grips with the creative side to website building.

Sketchbook Magazine image by Faye West
Sketchbook Magazine image by Faye West.

What was behind your decision to create Edit Collective, and can you describe a bit more about the project?
I had just spent a while contacting galleries, local to Devon and London and had a very negative response. Which is all part of the business but having graduated over 6 years ago, exhibiting was a goal that was proving unobtainable. So I thought I’d see if anyone else was having the same issue and the idea of a group exhibition started. Edit Collective is basically to show off the work we have produced over the last year, all the JPegs sat on computer desktops, and original pieces filling up portfolios not seeing the light of day. I was so bowled over by the interest from other artists that it involves near to 30 artists. I hope to continue expanding this number each year, keeping to the proviso that it is editorial work. Fellow ACOFI featured illustrator Gemma Milly is partnering my venture and the majority of artists have come to know each others work through contributing to magazines such as Amelia’s Magazine.

Faye West Self Portrait
Faye West Self Portrait.

How did you get involved with Think Act Vote, and can you give us a taster of what you’ve produced?
I was sent a lovely email asking if I would like to take part in their upcoming publication. As a student I was away with the fairies, I had no political view point at all which seemed to vex my tutors a bit. But in my old age I am starting to become very interested and unfortunately angry at the current state of affairs. This is what drew me to to illustrate Katherine Hamnett‘s piece in particular. I have illustrated something playing on her infamous slogan tshirts, mixed with the idea of a figure representing Democracy in the same vein as the Statue of Liberty.

for Ballad of Faye West
Illustration for Ballad Of by Faye West.

What is the VV Collective and what you have done for it?
This is Vivian Vile, a collective put together by two artists who feel that young female artists can often be overlooked. I am always drawn to the feminine, and feel quite proud to be alongside some wonderful artists and photographers in the ‘Members Lounge‘ They were involved with Ladyfest this year which was something I had wanted to get involved with since being a student interested in Riot Grrls and the like. They have just launched a competition to submit a self portrait which, if successful will be exhibited at Cultivate on Vyner Street. I decided to really set myself a challenge and paint on canvas with acrylic which was a little more time consuming and frustrating at times compared to my usual water colours. 

Harriet Gray's Dream by Faye West
Harriet Gray‘s Dream by Faye West.

Gareth Hopkin's Dream by Faye West
Gareth A Hopkin‘s Dream by Faye West.

You’ve built up quite a friendship with Ukraine based illustrator Daria Hlazatova, recently creating Lupine Osmunda together – how did this come about – both meeting and doing a project together?
I am her number one fan. I just loved her work so much, it makes me feel like a child starting at fairy tales again! So basically I commissioned her to illustrate me scenes from the Twelve Dancing Princesses because it was a story book I had as a child with illustrations which fascinated me. We often chat on twitter and email and our discussions would turn to the bizarre dreams we were having so we decided to illustrate each others and turn it into a project.

Teatum Jones by Faye West
Teatum Jones S/S 2012 by Faye West for Amelia’s Magazine.

Apparently you have some exciting news, that you will be will soon be in-house illustrator for Ballad Of. How did this come about and what will you be doing?
Yes, it’s all very new so not started anything yet. But I really enjoyed doing some pieces for the girls for their last issue. They have a two submission limit to give everyone an opportunity to have their work showcased. It was the last submission for me which I was rather sad about! So I asked them to consider me if they were ever looking for someone to help out with little illustration jobs. They liked the idea and agreed to have me on board, so I am looking forward to their next issue and to start writing some of the Illustration blogs for them. Ballad Of is one of the things I found through fellow Amelia’s Magazine illustrators on their blogs and through twitter; a wonderful example of how many doors have opened from the advice you gave me to get some internet presence!

Ballad of Bag Faye WEST
Ballad Of tote bag by Faye West. Photo courtesy of Lindsey and Claire.

GLITTER love Faye West
GLITTER love by Faye West.

What has been the most exciting thing to happen because of your involvement with Amelia’s Magazine and ACOFI?
Has to be seeing my work on printed silk dresses for Beautiful Soul and finding out that I was one of the 30 illustrators going in to Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration! Also I designed an exclusive limited edition tote for Ballad Of‘s last launch party and I had a special Courtney Love commission (see above) from a blogger who like the image I did of the singer for Topshop Boutique a few years ago.

Tallulah pet portrait commission by Faye West
Tallulah pet portrait commission by Faye West.

Anything new coming up? What will you be up to in 2012?
At the moment I am working on portrait commissions for Christmas presents, I have had a high number of dog portrait requests this year! Very sweet. I love being asked because you know you’re helping someone give a special and unique gift. I plan to move back to London, get Edit Collective‘s exhibition under way, and I would really like to concentrate on some more print design. Here is a link for portrait commissions which I have just put together! Do get in touch!

Morris-Dancers-by-Faye-West
Morris Dancers by Faye West for Amelia’s Magazine.

You can see more of Faye West‘s beautiful work in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration. Buy both my books together with four rare back issues of Amelia’s Magazine (including the one with the bag illustrated above) for just £50. A bargain! And I can’t wait to see how Edit Collective evolves.

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