Thursday, April 18, 2013

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Spotlights

Fashion Illustrator, Lauren Cheri--

In early February I came across an event on  The posting was for designing your own outfit with a fashion illustrator.  This sounded like an amazingly fun time, and I couldn't wait to sign up--primarily because although my styling skills are completely on point, I have no artistic hand--at all.  I knew this was going to have to be great if I could actually leave with something productive.  I did.

The event was hosted by Lauren Cheri, a self-proclaimed "illustrator born and bred in Chicago".  She may have literally been born somewhere else, but her fashion life began and flourished here.  We're glad to have her!

Between her freelancing, bridal design, and art supply sales jobs, I sat down at Argo Tea with Lauren and she enlightened me on her Chicago fashion career.  Here's what she told me:

I asked her how she got started in fashion and she told me about her experiences in high school.  "I was a mediocre actress freshman year, so I started working backstage and liked it.  I found I had talent in costume design and sewing."  She clearly ran with the talent.  She told me she came to Chicago for fashion school because she wanted to study theater costume design.  "Illustration caught on and I began freelancing".  Clearly the rest is fashionable history.

Lauren said she adores the young and fresh aspect of the Chicago fashion industry.  "There's a small established scene, but a lot of it is up-and-comers.  Everyone has a hardworking can-do attitude and are willing to work together.  New York has their physical Fashion District, which is awesome, but we'll get there.  It'll take time, but we'll get there sure enough."

Being a lawyer, I had to ask her how she protects her brand, and if she has run into any legal issues in her fashion career.  She shared, "I use copyrights and contracts.  Being present online is important, too because good work can easily be found online.  You have to be out there and aware.  I sign everything and keep a consistent style."  Lauren is clearly up on utilizing trade dress to protect yourself in the market.  She also gave the little tid bit to "post low resolution pictures.  They're hard to reproduce."  Surely that's helpful for all designers out there.

Lauren told me she classifies her work as different from others by her content being unique.  It was clear to me, just flipping through her view book, she puts personality into the figures she draws.  It appeared to me each of them had something to say or thoughts I was waiting to hear straight off the page.  They were realistic, despite the evident art which brought them to the paper.  "I always draw curvy women--confident, strong, athletic-looking women." These characteristics definitely set her apart from many others.  "Art is like a piece of your soul; it's an emotional investment."

Live illustration at the Juicy Couture Spring Collection Launch Event
Although if she weren't illustrating she'd like to be a linguist--travelling light without the heavy bags filled with idea books and art supplies, she wants to do her part in further putting Chicago fashion on the map.  She said what Chicago needs to get to the next level fashion-wise is "Attention.  A lot of people here are working hard.  There's even a wholesale fabric store here for the 1st time.  People and potential are here, it just needs attention."

Of course NY and California are known for their distinct fashion styles, but I was curious to know how Lauren frames them.  "NY is bold, flashy, and outgoing.  California is laid back with LA being a bit more materialistic.  Chicago is diverse and has a 1920s style.  We do what we want.  It's a old school style.  The spirit of prohibition is still here.  Chicago's fashion style is very much like the musical 'Chicago'."   What I enjoyed most was her sentiment: "Chicago has a soul in a way other cities don't.  It's not so much a look, but more of an attitude and soulfulness."  

Digital illustration in progress
Lauren is a great ambassador for Chicago fashion and plans to keep things local as she continues to grow.  She is working on moving into merchandising--getting her stylish drawings on items like phone cases, bags, sleep masks, throw pillows and more.  I can't wait.  I'll definitely be buying.

I appreciate the time I got to spend with her, and hope you guys get to enjoy her work, too.  By the end of our chat, she had drawn this illustration of me.  How accurate :)

Check out Lauren Cheri all across the web!

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