Q+A: Richard Kilroy.

July 26, 2009
Fashion illustration, once the central method of conveying designs of designers, hasn’t exactly been in high demand following the introduction – in the 30s – of photography as the means of communicating sartorial subjects. Leeds-based Richard Kilroy is at the forefront of what could be another turning of the tables. At least I’d like to think so. I mean, who else’s lines are as strong yet fluid, sparse yet impressive and undoubtedly directional. I had a bit of a natter with the man himself.
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1. Your website brands deems you an illustrator, and much of the work you’ve done reinforces this definition (interpretations of runway looks for Ponystep) but your work also seems to tread beyond the mere call of duty. In other words, your aesthetic is distinctly artistic. So, do you call yourself an artist or an illustrator or both?

I guess I just like to currently define myself as a fashion illustrator, it’s the work I feel most passionate about and where I feel I can develop my style most in. I see so many fashion illustrations that restrict themselves to being diagramatic and they become really chained down by this. I really want to explore the shapes within the clothes and mold them into a new but still relative form, so the illustrations have their own distinct presence, rather than just defining the clothes. I have so many ideas that i still need to explore with regards to illustration, but that’s not to say i’m going to limit myself to this though.

2. Your illustrations can seem at once spare and refined and yet jubilantly colourful at the same time, a really eclectic appearance. How do you, yourself, define your aesthetic?

Haha, that’s the hard part, trying to define my work! I’ve always been a very monochromatic person, I hated using colours in school and college, HATED it. However i think all that time steering clear of it made me take a back seat, and really notice what colours work better in short explosive doses. Most of my work will only have one key colour within an illustration, there is nothing worse than accidentally overworking a colour use, it can deaden the impact of an image, especially when you are attempting to create something stark and immediate. I usually make sure the colour is highly saturated too to add to this.

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Gareth Pugh Aw09 (for Ponystep)

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3. V. generic but necessary all the same – What inspires you?

One of the biggest inspirations has always been the line techniques of Alphonse Mucha. He created the most amazing lines and compositions from things like billowing fabric and organic shapes, and without trying to sound cliché, there is so much you can suggest and do with just simple lines, it’s something i’ve really taken on board.
Jean Paul Goude has also been a big inspiration for years now too, his various cut ups and polygonal shapes were so revolutionary in terms of fashion imagery and abstracting the human form. I’ve got too many to list, but countless fashion photographers and designers all play a part too. The Face magazine opened me up to so many amazing creatives who know how to create such striking imagery, i wouldn’t be doing any of the work i do without its influence.

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Raf Simons AW09 (for Ponystep)

4. Having dipped your toes in photography, do you reckon it’s something you could develop further? Or is illustration your sole vocation?

Again it’s something i’m exploring still, i’d like to experiment on a combination of both, but successfully. I usually roll my eyes when i see illustrations that incorporate photography as it’s just so uninspiring and old to me. I do really enjoy photography, but with fashion photography it’s never a solo effort. You have constraints like models, studio time, make up etc that can really hinder the process, and i can be a bit impatient with it. At the moment i’d rather sit with an A3 sketchpad and be in my own little world!

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5. Much of your work seems to be influenced/informed by menswear. Do you have a favourite menswear designer?

Yeah over the last few years menswear has definitely inspired me more, there’s genuinely just so much more development with it at the moment, with regards to body shapes and proportions. Designers like Romain Kremer, Hedi Slimane, Ricardo Tisci and Raf Simons have breathed so much freshness into the mix. Also i’m just really enjoying experimenting with male figures and their shapes within my drawings, trying to find a way to combine with them with extended and suggestive lines etc

6. A recent post on your blog hinted a plot to become an illustrational fashion blogger, is this your next move or have you got other plans/projects in the pipeline?

Yeah it’s very much just at the idea stage at the moment, i don’t know if it would be the right direction for my work, but it’s something that hasn’t really been tapped into and the idea does interest me a lot. I’ve been looking into zines a lot at the moment too, i really like the idea of a small fanzine built up of just illustrations, produced to go along with each fashion season. Who knows!

  • manandboys July 26, 2009 at 11:33 am

    ooh. WOW. those are fantasticmanandboys.blogspot.comx

  • Keith July 27, 2009 at 4:01 am

    Great interview. I enjoyed reading it. Hope you had a great weekend.

  • SOS! July 27, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    thanks for sharing!xx-LJ from SOS!

  • Thérèsa August 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    this is fantastic, he's work is stunning