Unfinished, doodled history of costume…

(costume/character doodles – last page unfinished)

When I was a little girl I wanted to be a “fashion designer”. My grandmother had been one, and for me that was all I wanted to do. Then I grew up and met other girls who wanted to be fashion designers, and realised that I couldn’t possibly survive in a world populated by them. Anyway, by that time I was becoming obsessed with history, with films and tv and comics.

When I was 14 the Star Wars prequel The Phantom Menace came out. And I’ll hold my hands up and say I loved it, and I still love it Ā – it ticked all the boxes for a geeky 14 year old girl: sci-fi; fantastical elements; princesses; crazy costumes. I bought the Art Of book and fell in love with Queen Amidala’s dresses, and suddenly realised that this was a job! Someone would pay me to draw this stuff!

Okay, so no one yet actually pays me to draw this stuff, but it hasn’t stopped me yet. Suddenly I’d discovered concept design, and costume design, and everything had changed. No more restraints by what Vogue or Elle or any other hard-eyed, cold-faced, nose-stuck-in-the-air, high-heeled tottering bags of bones said was “on trend”. Here you had all of time and space to draw on!

And as I read more and more about costume design, even for sci-fi films like Star Wars, I realised how much of it was initially based on historical costume. Ever since those days of doodling fantastical space-princess’, I’ve wanted to illustrate a book on the history of costume. And instead of waiting around for someone else to commission me, I’ve decided to do it myself.

Okay, so it’ll probably never get published, but I’m going to try, anyway. I’m going to try and produce a fun, un-patronising, illustrated book on all the funny little facts about clothing throughout history. Such as medieval shoes being so long in the toe they had to be fastened to the knee with a chain to stop the wearer falling over. Or the architecture-defying 18th century 12-foot wide panniers in ladies dresses.

At the very least it’ll be a good exercise and something for my portfolio. But I’ve got all my crossable body-parts crossed…


6 thoughts on “Unfinished, doodled history of costume…

  1. Heather

    hello šŸ™‚
    i have been wanting to write a little comment for ages, so sorry its a little out of date! i just wanted to say a few things…
    – you sound like the most amazing human been ever!
    – reading this particular post made me so happy because (i am an alevel student not doing the second year of textiles a level and i am so pleased that there are other people who love drawing and costume and all that but not the type of fashiony person that seems to run it! but now i have chosen illustration as my main ‘thing ‘now so it’s all good! which brings me on to…
    – your illustrations are flippin asome, i know you dont need me to tell you that! i hope you don’t mind but i’ve been practicing your style of figures over and over!! i am a big HH fan aswel as interested in costume so your combination of detail and characters is just great!
    would it be ok to ask you some questions about illustration and the like some time???
    i dont want to over load you with fan-ness now šŸ™‚
    hope you can understand my waffling ok (dislexic!)
    and above all, thank you for your amazing blog! šŸ™‚

    1. mimeher Post author

      Hi! Thankyou so much for your lovely comment, it really made my day! And of course, any time you want to ask a question just go ahead. šŸ™‚ If you’re interested in costume I would definitely recommend The Costumer’s Guide to Movies, if you haven’t seen it already – there’s some lovely lovely stuff on it!

      1. Heather

        Wowza! That site is amazing! Thank you for letting me ask some questions! Here are a few…
        ~ Did you go to uni? If so, which uni/course?
        ~ Which artists/eras are you inspired by?
        ~ I saw your christmas card design (wow), which computer programme do you use? Do you have one of those tablet thingys?
        ~ When did you find your ”style” of drawing? or does it still change?
        Thank you again for this, you are an amazing inspiration to me!

      2. mimeher Post author

        I did go to uni. Are you UK based? I went to Derby and studied Illustration for Animation, but there are hundreds of illustrations courses so there’s bound to be one that suits you. Although it is great to go to university and certainly helps open doors in the industry, no one in the studio I work for ever cared about how well I did or even looked at my portfolio. Mainly because I started as a runner which is a basic dogsbody job, and worked my way up as a designer. I was very lucky.

        But what I mean is, a lot of places will put anyone without a degree of some kind in the “no” pile, which is frankly shameful and ridiculous. There ARE ways of doing it without a degree, especially if you’re naturally talented – but it means you have to work harder to get people to give you a chance, or be lucky. I think a lot of places just want to see that you can work hard and be committed enough to get a degree in something.

        Artists/eras that inspire me – wow, um, everything really! I absolutely adore the 1930s-50s, but I really love the 18th century too. I have a thing about frock coats and tricorn hats. šŸ™‚ Recently I’ve been really loving the Tudor era too – something about those big ruffs!

        Artists – well, I love Jamie Hewlett – he’s pretty much the reason I got into animation. I love Tom Gauld’s stuff because it reminds me that storytelling is the most important thing, regardless of how complicated or detailed the image. Illustration from the ’50s and ’60s is great because it’s stripped-down, brilliantly laid out and the use of colour is often beautiful because it was more expensive to print in loads of colours. Um, what else – if you like costume I would see if you can find concept design books for your favourite films: The Art of Star Wars Episode 1 really got me into costume design, artists like Doug Chiang and Ian McCaig, as did the Lord of the Rings art books with stuff from John Howe and Alan Lee.

        I mostly use photoshop and occasionally illustrator, but I almost always draw things by hand first and scan them in. Whichever way suits you best – I find I can get better control with a pencil. I have a wacom tablet and it is amazing, though if you can’t get hold of one you can use a mouse, it’s just a little trickier.

        Style of drawing – wow. Um, not sure! I started down the path when I got into Gorillaz and Tank Girl and Jamie Hewlett’s other stuff. I started off straight-out copying but bit by bit found my own way of doing things. But it does change depending on what I’m doing, and I think it develops all the time. I’ve only been out of uni a couple of years and am not really sure if could call myself anything close to professional, so I’m still learning and developing my style.

        Aw, I’m glad I could help and inspire, wow, I don’t think I’ve ever inspired anyone before! I would just say draw, draw all the time, draw whenever you can – but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not or can’t draw every day. Some days it just doesn’t work and everything that comes out of the end of your pencil is rubbish – it happens to everyone. My dad’s a professional watercolour artist and he has days where he just has to rip up what he’s done! Don’t compare yourself to other people because drawing is such a personal thing, and everyone has their way of working that suits them. But at the moment I’m trying to keep a little notebook with me all the time to doodle in, and I’m trying to stop myself from getting too detailed or overworking it- sometimes (in fact, most of the time) it seems to be about what you leave out. Anyone can throw in everything and the kitchen sink, but it’s only someone with a real eye for it that can strip it down to the barest minimum and still make it look good. If that makes sense!

        Also I try and look for inspiration everywhere, try not to be too closed minded, try different things and different styles. I’m also trying to learn to grow a thick skin and accept criticism and not be upset if people don’t like what I do – I’m still learning this, it’s hard!

        Look at me, going on as if I’m so wise! I’m not – I’m a beginner too! But this is what helps me, so maybe it’ll help you too. šŸ™‚

  2. Heather

    Wow, thank you so much! You are really kind to take the time to share all you ‘wisdoms’ with me! I am in the UK, near bristol and I am thinking of uni and degrees but it scares me a bit because I am not so good with large spaces and lots and lots of people! I am trying to decide between strait illustration or a combination of that and animation because the I have basically wanted to be Terry Gilliam ever since my first viewing of Python! But for my final course work piece I did a kind of story/animation set to a Mitchell and Webb sketch which tested my patience with animation!! I am doing a foundation course next year so hopefully that will give me a taste of something different to school. Did you do a foundation course? Very much agree with your eras of inspiration, at the moment I am attempting a tudor style portrait of my little neighbour for a response in my art exam unit which is so much fun! I am experimenting with oils my teacher lent me which are very tricky but loving trying something new and i feel a little bit renascence – y! Ha!
    Also thank you for your tips about drawing and inspiration. I do tend to beat myself up about the rubbishy ones but I suppose it makes me want to try again another time.

    Thank you again, you are very super šŸ™‚

    P.S I love your glasses!


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