This week, we chatted to Toronto-based fashion illustrator and textile artist Shayla Bond. We’ve been following her work for a while and think she’s awesomely talented, so we were really happy to get the chance to talk to her about her work.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I’m a 26 year old self-taught fashion illustrator and graphic designer living in Toronto, Ontario. I have a background in fashion & textiles and while I do enjoy weaving and dying fabrics, sewing on a production line wasn’t for me, and my childhood dreams of being a fashion designer came second after just touching and buying someone else’s designs! I grew up working in the modelling industry which only propelled my love for beautiful clothing. I couldn’t exactly afford all the luxury pieces I wanted so I started illustrating them. It made me feel like I have something to apply my artistic urges too as I was working in marketing and could have a little piece of the clothing I wanted in my own way.
I’ve worked in illustration for two years officially, but from a very young age I was always known for my interest in drawing and sketching. I went through the usual childhood progression for a kid interested in art, moving from drawing books, to anime, to portraits and then it was when I bought my first teen Vogue (February 2006) that I decided I was going to be a Fashion Designer. I looked at the editorial called “Who’s that girl” by Patrick Demarchelier and saw an everyday girl like myself. It was then I started wearing the t-shirt under dress style like in the photos and drawing clothing. I went on to make my prom dress without a pattern, without even knowing how to make a pattern!
Nowadays, any type of lifestyle or luxury/beauty illustration project is the ideal project for me! I love bringing a product to life through mood and colour.
Can you tell me about your work and the projects you’ve uploaded to Twine?
Most of the projects I’ve uploaded to Twine are personal projects. As a fashion illustrator, I tend to work more editorially as my style is not as applicable to illustrated book pages or comic strips. A lot of my ideas come from textiles or editorial photographs.
One project on Twine was for a grad student looking for lookbook illustrations for her final fashion capsule collection. Knowing the price restrictions for students I happily took on
something I could have been paid a little more otherwise for. I was a student once and Twine isn’t just for work, it’s also an opportunity to collaborate with creative people.
What are your top tips for other creatives and fashion illustrators?
Always be learning. Set a side 10-30 minutes a day to learn from a YouTube tutorial about your craft or learn a new method of doing something.
Let your style change as you do.
Know your worth. Sometimes starting out, it’s easy to accept anything for money. Especially if you’re jumping into freelance without a large client base. But if you’re still giving the same clients down the road the same type of deals and making less than your worth an hour, it’s time to take yourself seriously. You’re only lowering your value/cheapening yourself by taking any job for any price. Learn to say no, even if it’s a struggle and double up on your grind to get your work in front of people you’d like as clients.
I can’t stress this enough: Social media is invaluable. Build an online presence and people will come to you more than you’ll have to reach out. Have a website, and start a product line to sell on the site even if it’s just a card or two. Build your brand and people will follow.
What’s it like working as a freelance fashion illustrator?
Freelancers are the most talented jugglers I know. You’re an accountant, a brand strategist, a creative and your own therapist. Having a proper schedule is key and so is productivity.
Misconceptions people often have about illustrators is that we can just sketch something up in an hour. They often don’t equate the price with the value. Your job is to break down the price to them into sections. i.e. Concept, sketches, final version. Show them where your time is placed and they’ll be more inclined to pay for your time.
A good brief should be concise and to the point but also contain all the valuable information and mandatory things that must be conveyed by the final illustration. A description, what the objective is, what’s its purpose, what date does this project need to be completed by, what’s the mood or tone conveyed? Much like a graphic design brief it’s important to know my limitations.
A good experience will always be a good range of artistic freedom and collaboration. A bad experience will always be taking on clients who don’t know what they want. For some reason they say they don’t, but it sure doesn’t seem like they “don’t know what they want” when they say they don’t want what you actually did! If they can’t communicate to you, it’s hard for you to know where to start.
What’s your creative process?
Inspiration is the number one ingredient for an illustration. If I don’t feel inspired I almost always hate whatever is made on the given day. Keep a Pinterest board or a folder on your desktop of images that inspire you and always be present for inspiration in the real world.
I usually have a pretty good image of what I want an illustration to look like so there aren’t many drafts as I work digitally. But even if it’s a complete illustration and I’m not happy with it, I just throw it in the scrap file. Don’t share work that isn’t up to your standards.