#IllustratorPOV: Samuel Harrison

Samuel Harrison is a British young artist and illustrator based in London. His fashion illustrations are filled with mystery and tension, exploring the body and gestures of a deadly, alluring woman and covering her with runway creations that with her enigmatic energy fills his images with attitude and sophistication. His characters, usually drawn with pencil, exude a dark and sensual energy achieved with his unique trace and the way he plays with shadows and light, which creates a metallic, ghostly effect on their skin. Their eyes, a signature element of Samuel’s drawings, seem to shed light, paralyzed in a sort of ecstatic state. This is confronted to splashes of color, made with watercolor and wet media to accentuate the clothes, creating an interesting juxtaposition of the darkness and light, monochrome and color.

Jean Paul Gualtier F_W16 CoutureArmani Prive Spring Summer 2016 Illustration by Samuel Harrison

His practice has given him the opportunity to explore and evolve, always immersed in a constant process, which lately has been enlightened by the opportunity to work with some of the biggest names in the fashion creative circles, such as Nick Knight, SHOWSTUDIO, and Garage Magazine. He also had the chance to share a creative space with illustration giants like Richard Killroy, Helen Bullock and Frida Wannerberger and our last featured artist, Connie Lim. Let’s see what this promising artist has to say about his work and life as an illustrator.

JW Anderson F_W16
JW Anderson Fall 2016 2016 Illustration by Samuel Harrison

How did you start as an illustrator?
I’ve been creating art for a long time however it’s only over the past few years working with other creatives, a foundation at Central Saint Martins and studying a Fine Art degree at the Chelsea College of Art, that I’ve been able to focus my practise and interests which have helped to define my own style. At the start of this year I was approached by Nick Knight after seeing my illustrations on Instagram and I had the opportunity to cover LCM for SHOWstudio’s  A/W16 fashion week coverage. It was an amazing experience and I feel this is where I began to take myself more seriously as an artist and fashion illustrator.

How would you describe your illustration style?
I would describe my illustrative style as theatrical. I like the work I create to have a very dark and mysterious mood, with harsh shading exaggerating facial features and capturing fabric folds in a very dramatic manner.
Haider Ackermann S_S17 Menswear
Haider Ackermann Menswear Spring Summer 2017 Illustration by Samuel Harrison

Name 3 fashion creators that move or inspire you.
John Galliano, Steven Klein & Rene Gruau

One of the most outstanding elements from the characters your draw are their eyes. They’re so full of mystery and quite dark, very intriguing. Please, tell us how were those eyes born and what they represent or express from you. 
The eyes were born from a fascination with the way eyelashes cast shadows on the face. This focus started off quite tame and realistic. However through my work this element has gradually evolved and been exaggerated to such a level that the eyes are now framed with this intense and ghostly appearance which I love. I like the women I create to appear other worldly, with long swan like twisted necks, glazed eyes, splintering lashes, huge cheek bones and a big bursting top lip. For me personally, I like fashion to be full of attitude, and so it’s only natural for me that my women glance and stare in an intimidating manner.

KTZ F_W17 Menswear
KTZ Menswear Fall 2017 Illustration by Samuel Harrison

Draping seems to have not only a strong presence in your drawings, but also on your installations. What is the importance of draping in your work?
When it comes to fabric I am really drawn to folds and twists in materials. I like the tension and release that knots create which when balanced with drapery and falling fabric can have a very visually satisfying effect. When focussing on these small details the material arguably has its own life, its own energy, and when translating that into a garment, a drawing or an installation, it brings so much more for the eye to explore and the mind to play with.

Watching your work closely, you can see an evolution from explorations of the body and the pose to fashion figurines that keep the same intention, but also show the beauty of the clothes. What lead you in that direction?
The progression from the pose and the body to more fashion based illustrations came really naturally. There has always been an element of fashion to my work, whether that be from the elegant placement of a hand or the arch of a back. I think it all centres itself around an interest in the powerful woman. I think that both the female body and a beautifully designed dress can make a woman dangerous, and as an artist that’s an amazing thing to work with.

Maison Margiela S_S16 Couture
Maison Margiela Spring Summer 2016 Couture Illustration by Samuel Harrison

What are some of the obstacles you face as an illustrator?
Finding balance within my process. I think there is a really interesting relationship between my detailed pencil drawings (a very considered and controlled process) and the flairs of watercolour within my work, which are much more gestural and spontaneous. So for me negotiating these two elements is a continuous exploration.

What’s your dream as an illustrator?
To stay excited about my work and for my work to keep growing. I think collaborating with a designer or fashion house would be an amazing experience creating some really interesting outcomes. Fashion art and illustration is being given increasingly more attention and so I would like the art form as a whole to continue to thrive in interest.

Armani Prive SS16 Couture

You have been recently featured in Showstudio’s first Facebook life streaming experience (congratulations!), where a high fashion photoshoot was followed by a luxury life drawing session. Please, tell us how was it to share a creative space with some of the biggest names in fashion illustration and photography? What did you take from the experience?
Illustration can be a very solitary existence, and so it was so much fun to have the opportunity for the StyleShootDraw project with Garage Magazine to work alongside the other SHOWstudio illustrators whose works I admire sharing the same space. The outcomes was a breath of fresh air and getting the chance to meet and watch the other artist’s process and interpretations was fascinating, with the added privilege of being involved in Nick Knights‘ photography magic first hand. The whole concept of the event was incredibly exciting and I think the fashion world could do with much more of these innovative projects to collaborate with illustrators.

Fast 5! 

The next questions will just take a sec! Answer the first thing that pops in your head.

How would you describe your personal fashion style?
One big oversized flannel shirt.

Favorite season: Spring – Summer or Fall – Winter?
Fall-Winter, I love to layer.

What’s your favourite music to listen while you do your work?
Something with an R&B flavour, something chilled and moody that can allow my mind to wander.

Name your favorite animated movie or character.
Cruella de Vill from Disney’s 1956 The One Hundred and One Dalmatians 

What are your 3 favorite artists of all time?
Angela de la Cruz, Salvador Dali & Egon Schiele

JW Anderson S_S17 Menswear
JW Anderson Menswear Spring 2017 Illustration by Samuel Harrison

We want to thank Samuel for his time and sharing his POV with us! To see more of his work, you can visit his social media and portfolio links:

Website: www.samuelharrisonart.co.uk
Instagram: @samuelharrisonart

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