WBM/AUTR – Fashion – Volume 1 – February 2013
This article is part of a series of excerpts from our first edition digital magazine. Read the full interview HERE.
With an extraordinary power to communicate feminine energy through color, Claire Thompson is a fashion illustrator with a deeply moving story, embracing the whirlwind of New York. Growing up in Ohio, Claire studied fashion design at the University of Cincinnati. “I knew I always wanted to live in NYC since I visited it for the first time when I was 18,” she says, “I recently moved to New York a few months ago in order to pursue my career as a fashion illustrator.”
Through an extensive repertoire of creative experience, Claire has been fine-tuning her skills in fashion illustration and design, while also experimenting in photography. During New York Fashion Week, Claire was especially excited to sketch at the Clover Canyon show, inspired by the imaginative prints of the Los Angeles label. As for her personal exhibitions, she reveals, “I will be doing a few shows in Brooklyn this spring and summer.” Claire recently had an exhibition at 92Y Tribeca.
At moments, her portfolio drips with striking simplicity—the power of an individual piece sketched into a feline pose or a particularly luscious color. At other times, her intimate control of fine detail exposes her fascination with couture. Every stroke captures ecstatic movement between breaths, or a coy meditation in vogue. Her vibrant pigments bleed into instinctive representations of chiffon, gauze, and silk.
What is the story behind how you came to pursue fashion illustration?
I got into fashion illustration when I was living in the French Alps. I was recovering from eye surgery and spent the majority of my time painting everything around me. From old castles, to mountains and lakes, there was never a shortage of beautiful things to paint. Colors were much more vibrant after my eye surgery, and so I took all of my inspiration and began painting fashion illustrations. I sort of had a love affair with color when I regained my eyesight, and haven’t stopped painting since. It wasn’t until recently I decided to take a leap and pursue my passion fulltime. For a while, I treated it like a hobby, but when I found myself spending all my free time illustrating, I quickly learned it was more than just a hobby.
Who have been some of the most inspirational fashion designers for you?
I love the work of Ellie Saab and Gareth Pugh, but for the most part, it’s the cut of a jacket or the silhouette of a dress that inspires me most.
On that note, tell us about some of your favourite artists, whether fashion-related or otherwise.
Anything that pushes boundaries and makes me look twice is something that really inspires me, so I can’t say there is a specific artist I pull inspiration from. I’m really drawn to the colors and movement in a lot of street art. I used to live in San Francisco and would go on a lot of photography trips throughout the city, photographing as many murals as possible. There’s something about the scale of the art that is really impressive to me.
What has been a memorable experience for you in your journey as an illustrator?
Being told I had 5 days left before I’d be blind for the rest of my life was an experience that changed my life forever. As an artist, seeing is what feeds my passion and allows me to communicate with the world. I spent two weeks unable to see or paint after my surgery. The second I could see again I painted constantly, and spent the rest of my recovery living in France. I took trains out to Switzerland to see eye doctors in order to make sure my recovery was going ok. Looking back it was a huge risk I took going by myself. I was so determined to live abroad that I wouldn’t let anything stop me. That experience really taught me the importance of following my intuition, and to never let go of a dream.