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An interview with illustrator Antonia Parker, as featured in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration

ACOFI illustrator Antonia Parker creates wonderfully colourful and unique fashion illustrations, portraits and vignettes. She got involved with many eclectic projects in 2011: and here's a fabulous overview.

Written by Amelia Gregory

Amisha Ghadiali at the ACOFI launch
Amisha Ghadiali at the ACOFI launch.

Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration featured illustrator Antonia Parker talks us through her year… be inspired!

You’ve said that the launch party for ACOFI early last year was a great kick start to 2011. Why do you think meeting people in person is so important when it comes to gaining work and making contacts in the creative world?
It was really fun illustrating live at the launch. I like to chat with my sitters as I draw them, because it’d be a bit odd to study someone so intently and not try to get to know them. As a result, it was really handy for meeting people. It was also a really happy event, so everyone I met that evening was pleased to talk. It’s ridiculous how much of the work I’ve received this year has been down to the people I met that evening or since on Twitter.

Laurel Harple.

Antonia-Parker-ACOFI-Heather Stanton
Heather Stanton.

One great contact you made was with my partner Dr. Hauschka. What did you create for Heather Stanton and can we see a sneak peak here?
Heather was milling about at the party and looked very friendly, so I grabbed her for a portrait. We’ve kept in touch since, and she commissioned this illustration of her husband for his birthday. 

Will for Heather.

One Mango Tree.

You then worked on the Africa Fashion Guide project, which I believe featured a number of Amelia’s Magazine illustrators. Can you tell us more about that?
Jacqueline Shaw got in touch after the ACOFI launch for a book she was putting together about ethical African fashion. I illustrated One Mango Tree and Eki Orleans, which was great because they both use such gorgeous patterns.

AHP-EKI-ORLEANS-Antonia Parker
Eki Orleans.

The book launched in September and we were treated to an ethical fashion debate with the LCF Sustainability Centre and the Ethical Fashion Forum, chaired by Eliza Anyangwe of the Guardian.

Ashish S/S 2012 by Antonia Parker.

You’ve been creating imagery for Amelia’s Magazine for London Fashion Week for some time now… why do you enjoy being involved with this part of the magazine so much? What do you think it has helped you to achieve?
I love illustrating for LFW, because it is two weeks of full-on illustration. Not only do I get to discover new designers, but it’s a great time to experiment because you churn out so much work over a short period. When I look through my past work, my favourite pieces tend to be ones I’ve made during Fashion Week. 

Astrid Andersen S/S 2012 by Antonia Parker.

You are a very hands on illustrator and you love to work live as part of a participatory experience, can you tell us more about your handmade photo booth?
I like working live, because it scares the hell out of me! There is so much pressure drawing someone in front of you and handing them their portrait there and then! It’s a risky process and it doesn’t always go to plan, but you make the best of it. I built my handmade photo booth from cardboard and foil a couple of years back and took it to zine fairs – I sit inside the booth, customers come and sit in the other side, I draw them and then post the illustration through a slot in the side.

What are your photo booth plans for the future?
I’m planning on building a more portable, weatherproof version of the booth and would like to spend the summer touring around the UK, illustrating passers-by. Imagine sitting next to the beach, drawing in the sun! Lovely!

Tell us more about the Dexterous Diva… what is it and what did you do for it?
Jo Gifford writes for her blog Dexterous Diva, in which she discusses everything from running, parenting, beauty and working as a freelance creative. She was looking for something bright and exciting to jazz up the blog. It was really fun rebranding the site as she had a good idea of what she wanted, and as a synasthete loves bright colours so I was able to go colour-mad. I made a new header for the blog, illustrated titles, social networking buttons and a special mindmap about Jo. Currently we’re collaborating again to create a set of postcards to raise awareness about endometriosis, a condition in which small pieces of the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterus, causing extreme abodominal pain and infertility. Generally it take years of what is dismissed as ‘bad period pain’ for women to be diagnosed, by which time their fertility choices and quality of life are already compromised, so it’s important we raise awareness so that more women can be diagnosed sooner and are able to have more control about how they then deal with the consequences. Jo herself has endometriosis and my family are affected by it, so it means a lot to us to help other women.

You have continued to be politically engaged, getting involved with both UK Uncut protests locally, and producing your own Riot inspired artwork. What has been your involvement?
I attended the TUC‘s anti-education cuts marches last year, and helped organise the UK Uncut protests in Tunbridge Wells last year. Tunbridge Wells is well-recognised as a bastion of Conservative sensibilities, so the fact that so many people were inspired to protest against the banks and tax-avoiding big high street businesses was quite a coup for the anti-cuts movement.

How do you think artists can be best engaged in political causes?
For me, creating these political illustrations is the best way to express my thoughts about the current political climate – a lot of people seem to subscribe to ideas as suggested by the media and/or the leading political parties, forgetting these groups have their own agenda. For me it’s the best way to suggest things in a succinct way that people might question the version of events they’re being spoonfed. The riots were a chance to make some self-initiated work – It is interesting how Cameron, Osbourne, Clegg and Boris were all out of the country at the time and left it a few days to actually do anything so the general population would be desperate enough to agree to whatever extreme measures they suggested. As far as I’m concerned, everything that Cameron has said about the riots since has been total rubbish, and whilst it was very very scary for those living in proximity at the time, I think the punishments that have been handed out since are too extreme. I also don’t like the connection made since between student protests, TUC protests and these riots, because the protests and the riots came from different places. It’s also worrying how readily the government are discussing watercannons, teargas and blinding lights to disperse future gatherings of people – they’re not trying to prevent future riots, they’re trying to prevent future protest.

What is your involvement with Edit Collective?
Edit Collective has been set up by fellow ACOFI illustrator Faye West as platform for illustrators to promote their commissioned artwork collectively. We’re hoping to hold a exhibition of our work during 2012.

Tantrum Mag
You have also been working with other online magazines, most recently with Tantrum Magazine. What were you commissioned to create for them?
I created fashion illustrations of Courtney Love, Gwen Stefani and Karen O to accompany their piece on style icons in the music world. The women are quite different appearance-wise, so it was really fun to draw them.

Hilary Alexander at LFW.

Any hopes and aspirations for 2012? 
I am very optimistic about 2012, as I’m moving house and will finally have a studio space for the first time in 18 months! It is going to be liberating to be able to make work bigger than A4 again! I have a few projects in the pipeline to look forward to and am making more self-initiated work. This year, I’m especially hoping to get my illustrations into more printed publications. I’m also going to create a few illustrated products for an online shop, so I have a bit more control over my income from illustration. Having left London, it is harder to get to the exhibitions and exciting goings-on than it was before, so I’ll be making more of an effort to stay immersed in the scene, as I have missed it!

Antonia Parker is optimistic
Antonia Parker is optimistic!

Find Antonia Parker online at Antonia Makes. You can see more of her lovely work in Amelia’s Compendium of Fashion Illustration.

Felder Felder S/S 2011 by Antonia Parker.


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