Meet Deanna First, the fashion illustrator who has worked with department stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor as well as Armarium, The Limited, and others. The NYC-based artist flew to Miami to illustrate guests at the launch of The Daily’s premiere Miami edition—The Daily Front Row: Miami—and the opening of the Faena Art Dome last night. First breaks down how she got started in the biz, her muses, and more.
Deanna, how did you become a fashion illustrator?
I discovered my love for fashion illustration in college while I was studying fashion design at Kent State University. I spent a few years in the industry working at Ralph Lauren, Elie Tahari, and J.Crew before taking the leap and pursuing art on a full-time basis this year.
Who was the first person you drew for fashion?
Fashion blogger Oksana Glosman of the blog Wear See Snap, a few years back. I really admire her effortlessly chic sense of style. She never appears to be trying too hard and that’s what I love about her and the overall vibe of her blog. She reposted the portrait I sketched of her on her Instagram account. That landed me my first client and book cover commission with Mirtha Michelle, who is the poet behind “Letters, To The Men I Have Loved.” I just finished up her third cover, which is launching in January. Stay tuned!
What’s one of your all-time favorite pieces you’ve worked on?
It has to be one of my personal projects inspired by Kate Moss. I love working in neutral tones with charcoal and soft pastels. It’s difficult to be completely satisfied with a “finished” piece of art, but with this particular illustration, I’ve never felt the need to go back and add more. That is rare for me.
Do people tend to be picky about how they want to be drawn?
In all honesty, yes! I’m guilty of this myself. We perceive ourselves in a certain way and it is always a bit surprising and exciting to see how others interpret our beauty.
Who are your muses?
Oh wow, where do I begin? From the latest models to the impeccably dressed women on Fifth Avenue, I take a huge inspiration from their clothes and hair, and constantly gather ideas for my sketchbook. I go into the city to people-watch, and also flip through old fashion mags, taking the eye of one model and the lips of another to keep on hand and use in a future illustration.
Who are some artists you look up to?
Stina Persson, David Downtown, Michael Carson, and François-Henri Galland. I’m drawn to artwork with a strong sense of emotion that incorporates fluidity and movement.