The Fashion Illustration Gallery
The Fashion Illustration Gallery (FIG) is tucked away on Cork Street behind Saville Row in London’s Mayfair. William Ling, himself a fine art graduate and former lecturer at Central St Martins, founded FIG in 2007, with his primary aim to promote and sell original artwork and prints by artists who work as fashion illustrators.
FIG is the worlds leading gallery dealing with contemporary fashion illustration presenting drawings, paintings, collages and prints by the most internationally renowned artists working in its field today; David Downton, Tanya Ling, Gladys Perint Palmer, Hiroshi Tanade, Richard Haines, Mats Gustafson, Francois Berthoud, Jean- Philippe Delhomme and Ricardo Fumanal.
The Style Edit caught up with William Ling to find out more about FIG and his own love for fashion illustration:
TSE: What is special and unique about this art form?
“Fashion Illustration as we understand it exists because it is commissioned and the fashion illustrators get their identity as such, because they get commissioned by department stores, fashion magazines or fashion, cosmetics and luxury goods brands or for any number of products/services through advertising agencies. What’s more it is pretty much exclusively a 20th and 21st century art form.”
TSE: Are fashion illustrations becoming desirable as pieces of art for people to collect and display privately?
“People are waking up to the fact that the drawings and paintings made by the world’s best fashion illustrators are of the finest quality. As a subject for artistic enquiry fashion is only superficially superficial and whilst on the surface the drawings might be about clothing they also concerned about idea of beauty and are a form of social commentary; they tell us something about the way we were, are and want to be.”
TSE: What does it take to be a truly great fashion illustrator?
“Fashion Illustration is a record of observation. The eye does the observation and the hand does the recording. A great fashion illustrator has to be a bit like a great tennis player. They need great hand to eye coordination.”
The road to becoming a successful illustrator is as tough as any other role in the fashion industry: “It begins with a young artist sitting in the foyer of Vogue House, portfolio under the arm, hoping to get to see the creative director” explains William. “This sifting process ensures that only the world’s best grab our attention.”
FIG’s inaugural exhibition, 100 Years of Fashion Illustration launched the book of the same name for which access to the Vogue archive was granted so that original work by Cecil Beaton, Carl Erickson and René Bouché was exhibited for the first time, alongside works by René Gruau, Antonio Lopez, Mats Gustafson and Jean-Philippe Delhomme. Further exhibitions of the works made for Vogue China by Marko Matysik, paintings from Tanya Ling’s Ready to Wear Series and work made at the Paris couture shows by Gladys Perint Palmer.
Although the FIG gallery is not open to the general public without a prior appointment a work presented in a FIG exhibition in partnership with the Victoria and Albert Museum is now in the V&A’s permanent collection and can be viewed in The Prints & Drawings study room. FIG also have an online shop where work can be viewed and the buying process eased.
“It is worth adding fashion illustrations are typically hand crafted and are concerned with composition, balance, colour, design and flair. They are also, at least for the time being affordable!”
Visit the FIG online store here you can also contact FIG via the website to make an appointment to view the gallery in person.