We had the pleasure to sit down with the fabulous illustrator and artist Ivy Kirk, who’s work is now available to purchase via the Brass & Burl website. Based in Brooklyn, New York, Ivy got her first start at Parsons School of Design, before becoming a clothing designer at Kate Spade. Ivy works mostly in watercolor, and finds inspiration in travel, vintage shopping and cooking.
Was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
I am actually both an illustrator, and fashion designer, so my path is a little different than some. The first time I remember actively deciding I wanted to be a fashion designer was when I was in middle school. I was interested in clothing, though, much earlier. I had always known I wanted to attend college at Parsons, so I moved to New York and got a degree in Fashion Design. After that, I worked as a designer at Kate Spade for about 7 years. Towards the end of my time there, I was getting a little disenchanted with the design world. My mom had signed me up for a workshop with a well known artist who creates floral paintings in watercolor. That was the moment that I decided I wanted to get more into the art side of fashion.
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
I work in a few different ways, but I always begin with pulling inspiration. Since I focus mostly on fashion and lifestyle, I look a lot at Vogue.com and Pinterest. If I’m creating work for myself, I prefer to keep the artwork very free and fluid. First, I create a loose sketch in watercolor. Then, I go back and add more bold color. Lastly I add the black ink outline and detail. If I’m working on a commissioned painting, I still always still start by pulling inspiration. Next, I create a couple of loose pencil sketches for composition approval, as well as a color palette. Afterwards, I transfer the approved pencil sketch onto the final paper and fill it in color. Lastly, I add the black ink. Obviously in this case, there can still be several rounds of revisions at the end.
If you could work within a past art movement, which would it be?
Maybe it’s not really a movement, but I enjoy the fashion illustration of the 1970s. It’s cool to see a time period, where illustration was such a large component of magazines.
How would you define beauty in 140 characters or less?
I think beauty is such a personal thing, but for me it can be anything that I see and makes me smile.
Do you have a favorite painting, which inspires you?
I wouldn’t say I have a specific painting that inspires me, but I love seeing all of the different artists creating unique work on Instagram. I find the diversity really inspiring.
What is your greatest indulgence in life?
Really good food.
Which artist of the past would you most like to meet?
Do you interact with the digital world/technology in your work?
I create all my work by hand, but I do post it on Instagram. Posting on Instagram helps me stay motivated to keep creating, as well as helps to bring in new clients.
Have you ever had a moment when you questioned your career entirely?
I can think of many moments, but ultimately fashion and painting are both things I love.
What is your favorite art gallery in New York and why?
In New York, I prefer museums over galleries (probably because I’m not a huge fan of contemporary art). If I were to pick a favorite museum, it would be MOMA. I really like their modern art collection.
What visual references do you draw upon in your work?
I base a lot of my work on runway photos. If I need to push myself to think outside my comfort zone, I might look to other illustrators for inspiration, though I try to only pull very conceptually. I like Antonio Lopez’s work from the 70s, so sometimes I will look at that.
What is your daily routine when working?
Since I do a few different things (design and illustration), I try to set my goals for what I need to get done. I find that I’m way more likely to stay focused If I write it down. My schedules vary a lot, but I always try to set aside time to paint the things I want to, even if I am really busy.
What advice would you give to a young artist following in your steps?
Try to figure out what makes you excited and passionate, and do that. You may not realize it, but your enthusiasm always shows up in your work.
Do you find that New York’s art scene inspires or influences your art?
I’m more inspired by the art/illustration/design scene I see on Instagram. Overall people are really nice and excited to connect. There are so many talented people out there!
Why do you love what you do?
I like that it’s another way to reach people. You can add so much more glamour and attitude in a painting, than would exist in real life. It can be really inspiring!
Please click the link below to not only find out more about Ivy Kirk’s stunning artwork, but also some of her hand-selected furniture and home decor inspirations that represent her style and eye for design.