Growing up in Australia, Megan Hess always loved drawing. But it wasn’t until she was an art director at London-based department store Liberty that she decided fashion illustration was what she really wanted to do as a profession. “I was still drawing in my spare time, and it was essentially my passion,” said Hess. “But when I realized that it was what I really wanted to do, I did everything I could to move into illustrating full time.” Hess’ big break was creating the cover of Candace Bushnell’s bestselling book Sex and the City. “The cover was all over the U.S., from billboards to taxi cabs,” remembered Hess. “It really changed everything for me.” Since then, her client roster has expanded to high-fashion brands like Chanel, Dior and Tiffany & Co. Her latest book, Fashion House: Illustrated Interiors From the Icons of Style, was recently reissued with a brand-new cover. We spoke with Hess about how she finds inspiration, the art supplies that she always carries and her favorite hairstyle to draw for her illustrations.
What drew you to fashion illustration?I’ve always loved drawing women and I’ve always loved fashion. It’s the imaginary process of creating characters and clothes that don’t actually exist, a pretend world that I love to dip into every day.
Tell us about your book Fashion House.Fashion House is really a combination of my love for both fashion and interiors. I’ve always loved that certain homes really reflect their owner’s sense of fashion. The best example is Coco Chanel. Her suite at the Ritz was a mirror image of her clothing designs.
What's your favorite or signature hairstyle that you always draw with your illustrations?I love a classic topknot or bun. Sometimes I want the illustration to have a really chic look, and a pulled-back bun is always chic and timeless.
What is your most memorable illustration moment?I recently drew for a royal wedding in Dubai,and it was incredible. There were 500 women dressed in head-to-toe couture. I was sitting in the palace on my own little podium drawing all of these women in the most lavish setting. I had to honestly pinch myself!
What are some subjects that you still hope to illustrate?There’s so much more that I want to Illustrate. I actually have to stop myself. When I go on vacations I promise myself that I’ll take a break from drawing. But then 10 minutes after I arrive, I see something amazing and have to start sketching. It’s stronger than me. I think more than anything, I’ll always have a curiosity to draw more people, more cultures and more eccentricities.
What do you always keep in your illustration kit?I carry my Montblanc pen with me everywhere because I use him to draw everything. I also have mini sketchbooks in every handbag—and I have a lot of handbags!
How do you find inspiration? I find everything inspiring: people, travel, music, fabric and books. If I get in a creative rut, I just get out of the studio and go stretching for a little bit of inspiration. Often, when you change your routine, inspiration comes.
What do you like to do when you're not illustrating?All of the normal things like catching up with friends with a good glass of wine, having fun with my kids, reading a good book. The simple things.
How would you describe your hair care routine?My hair naturally dries in a huge frizz, so my hair care routine involves a lot of “anti-frizz” products and taming. I’m so jealous of people whose hair just dries straight.
If you had the opportunity to design your own salon, how would you design it inspired by your illustrated interiors?Oh, that's easy. My salon would look just like Marie Antoinette’s palace in Versailles, with gilded mirrors and vintage, ornate walls in pale blue. Since this is an imaginary question, I may as well shoot for the stars!
What's one tip you would give to aspiring illustrators?Never stop drawing. Don’t struggle to find “your style” because the more you draw, the more your style will find you.