What an absolute pleasure it was to have the opportunity to interview one of Australia’s most talented fashion illustrators, Kerrie Hess. A lady who has worked with Australian and international brands I can only dream of, has lived what seems like five different lives in the most incredible cities around the world and who last year had the incredible honour of illustrating the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Australia. After fifteen amazing years, an international career and more success than she ever dreamed of, Kerrie Hess isn’t done yet! Starting the year with an exhibition at Le Meurice Hotel in Paris, 2014 is set to be a big year for the Brisbane based illustrator.
AF: I always wonder about people with incredible talents such as illustration how young they were when they realised they were good at it. Is drawing something you always did as a child and when did it start to click for you that you were really quite talented at it?
KH: Oh well thank you. Yes absolutely, I was illustrating from a very young age. I asked my parents to book me into classes when I was about 6. I always knew that I loved this but didn’t know I could make this my living until I was about 19 when I took the leap to do it full time.
AF: Beyond realising you were talented, did you ever in your wildest dreams think you would have such a successful career as an illustrator?
KH: To be honest no! I am always surprised when fashion and beauty brands that I absolutely love want to collaborate with me as many of them have been my personal favourites. In a way I think I have drawn them into my life in some way…
AF: You have been working as a full time illustrator for an incredible fifteen years, since before social media tools like Instagram made artwork so accessible to fans and clients. In the current market a shout out from a celebrity on social media can start an artists career and build them an instant profile and fanbase, but you began in a whole different media era. How did you get your start in the industry? Do you think it was a lot harder fifteen years ago for someone starting out than it is today?
KH: Yes I think so. At least now with social media an artist can really get a sense of what kind of images of theirs are connecting with the universe. Back when I started out, it was a time of hand delivering the works to the brand office! And there really wasn’t any mediums of getting feedback aside directly from clients.
AF: You have lived in incredibly vibrant and inspiring cities around the world such as Hong Kong, Paris, London and Melbourne. Have you found your style has changed and evolved as you have moved between cities?
KH: Yes, I think living in Paris has really influenced my illustration style. Most of my clients are still there also so even though I don’t live in the city anymore, I think it’s still a large part of my work.
AF: Which is your favourite city in the world to visit for drawing inspiration?
KH: It will always be Paris, but I think London, New York and Melbourne are inspiring cities too.
AF: You lived overseas for a long time, still work with many international clients and travel often for work, so you clearly have your finger on the pulse of the international fashion and art world. How would you say the talent and the art industry as a whole in Australia stands up against the international market?
KH: Oh I think we have so much talent here! I always find that there is a lot of interest in Australian fashion in Paris.
AF: I know it will be hard to choose between all of your incredible clients (Chanel, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Kate Spade, Christian Louboutin and Louis Vuitton just to name a few!) but which would you say has been your favourite project of your career and why?
KH: I have to make a top three! First is billboards for department store Printemps that went up across Paris in April last year. Second was a collaboration with Louis Vuitton Paris that went live on lv.com last year also. And thirdly, illustrating the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Australia in March 2013.
AF: What’s next for Kerrie Hess?
KH: I am just wrapping up my first solo exhibition in France at Le Meurice Hotel in Paris! This has been a huge project and an incredible honour to exhibit in a space that is so linked with Salvador Dali, who for a period lived in the hotel.
Once this is all complete, I have a range of artisian chocolates in the works with Cacaou Melbourne, a new range of limited edition prints, a collaboration with L’Oreal Paris, window’s for Sambag Sydney in Hong Kong, and setting up in a new home with my son Marcel to look forward to.