Iva Vanacova is an artist and illustrator living in Prague. Her fashion illustrations reflect a love of colour, elegance, movement and pattern. Prior to shifting to working in fashion, Vanacova explored canvas painting, playing around with portraits, abstracts and paintings of animals. After being inspired during one New York Fashion Week, she began to create pieces and share them online. Since then she has collaborated with brands and magazines such as Vogue Italia, Djerf Avenue, Markarian, Tiffany & Co. and Jil Sander.
What led you to choose fashion illustration as your career path?
I started making fashion illustrations spontaneously – there was no real plan behind it. I was living in New York, and I was mainly painting on large canvases and focusing on various topics. I have always had an interest in fashion, so around the time of New York Fashion Week I was looking through all the new collections. I started making quick five-minute sketches of my favourite looks. Then I began sharing them on Instagram, and within the first few weeks I had influencers, models and designers – such as Chiara Ferragni, Carolina Herrera and Valentino – liking, commenting and sharing my illustrations, and this encouraged me to continue.
Your illustrations capture texture, pattern and print so well. How do you bring life to fabric in your art?
I start with markers. I like layering different shades for some initial contrast and depth. I then continue with working on the layers with coloured pencils, oil pastels or ink to achieve a nice texture. I have been enjoying focusing on complex patterns and details recently. It requires a lot of time and patience, but I think they add a lot of character to each illustration.
Capturing form and movement is an important part of documenting fashion. Could you share your techniques for achieving this in your artwork?
Adding movement to my figures is one of my favourite things to do. I often look to ballet dancers for inspiration. I love exploring different poses and I am always on a look out for new ones. Even just adding the smallest movement to the shoulders or hips can fully transform a figure.
Have you had any collaborative experiences that have influenced your creative approach?
I really enjoy collaborating with Djerf Avenue by Matilda Djerf. As a brand they pay a lot of attention to diversity. For me this means expanding beyond my usual figures and focusing on exploring a wide variety of body types. This includes able and disabled bodies, different skin tones, different hairstyles and more.
How do you blend traditional and digital techniques in your creative process?
I started working digitally about three years ago. It’s been a gradual process of exploring. It took me some time to find a way of taking advantage of having endless possibilities, while staying true to my already established signature style.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashion illustrators or artists just starting out?
Firstly, don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. Do your own thing. That will help you to stand out. Second, don’t worry too much about how to achieve your own style right away – it’s something that takes time and happens organically. Third, be consistent and try to sketch daily. Lastly, share your work.
Could you share any exciting upcoming projects or collaborations that you are looking forward to?
I have to mention my collaboration with Winsor & Newton on the Graphic Art Campaign. I feel so lucky to be a part of it, and I can’t wait to be able to share the details and each of my artworks that were involved.
All images are courtesy of the artist. Click here see more of Iva's work.
More like this
Featured Artist: Alice Wilson
Multimedia artist Alice Wilson speaks to us about her process and practice, from utilising repurposed materials to explore the concept of landscape, to how residencies have impacted her work.