Spotlight on Illustrator Juliane Hennes
I recall being very excited for a particular class during my college years and that class was Fashion Illustration. I have never been an uber-talented illustrator but I thought this one class would change all of that...and it didn't. I remained a mediocre illustrator with a much better understanding of how to draw fabric. Taking this class increased my appreciation for master illustrators because I learned how time-consuming detailed illustrations are. This class also created my obsession with Prismacolor markers and pencils...yes, I'll happily admit I'm a snob when it comes to art materials.
Although I could never become a great illustrator I still follow many fashion illustrators and admire their work. One of my favorite of these Illustrators is German artist Juliane Hennes. The color and details in her illustrations are spectacular! After reaching out to Hennes for an interview I learned the skilled artist has quite the extensive resume which includes work experience in Hong Kong and Milan for Gianfranco Ferré. If that's not impressive enough she also studied in South Africa and received a Masters in Fashion at Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy.
Please continue reading below to learn more about Juliane Hennes and how chocolate aids her creative process!
What sparked your interest in art and illustration?
The interest has always been there. Ever since I can think I’ve been obsessed with art, colors and shapes, patterns and fashion magazines. When I was a child I drew on everything, my clothes, the walls…I still do that sometimes.
Are you a full-time artist? If so, how did you make the decision?
Yes, I am full-time. I think the decision was a natural development. While I was working as a fashion designer in Milan it dawned [on] me that just the drawing part could actually be an autonomous job by itself. I had not considered it before. And so it started.
Who or what inspires you?
I have a thing for old movies from the 60s. I love this parallel universe of big hair, lots of mascara and this completely different breed of outfits. Recently I am very much in love with Doris Day.
What is your artistic process?
It is pretty straightforward. The client explains to me the object they want to have drawn and I then ask for a style reference from my website asking them which drawing of mine comes the closest to what they imagine. Before I start drawing, the whole thing already exists in my head. Basically, half of the work is already done before I take to the pencils. Most of the time I go from pencil to colored pencil to watercolor and then some final touches with white acrylic paint or gold.
Please explain The Anitas and what inspired them?
As a fashion illustrator, I have always been very confused about not having this one “thing”, like one drawing range I would concentrate on. The reality is that I have the urge to do more than just the classic fashion drawings. The Anitas are actually the evolution of the princess drawings I have been doing my whole life.
Can you give us a sneak peek of the Helgas?
With the Helgas I will complete my range. Helga will be super quick drawn, like a sketch with markers. Sometimes I do quick sketches for clients to make sure we are on the same page. Most of them loved the sketches so much that they wanted to include them in the final piece. This is how the idea was born to add another player to the girl band.
Has your style evolved over time?
Very much. And you only realize it after some time. I try not to be too hard on myself and try to still love some of my old work but some things I can hardly look at anymore. But this is something a lot of artists struggle with. I have a friend who burns old works he cannot identify with anymore.
What is the average amount of time it takes to finish one illustration?
That is a question I get often. It completely depends on the size of the paper and the amount of drawn space. But to give you an idea, a classic fashion drawing usually takes from 10-15 hours, it can be much more though if details are involved, like embroidery, complicated hair styles or rhinestones. What people most of the time don’t expect is that an Anita drawn from scratch takes longer than that. This is because with the classic drawings your orientation is natures form and you just draw it with your style and soul. With the Anitas there is no guideline, there is much more of a creative process, like a birth giving process involved. It’s more artsy.
What is the most challenging part of being an illustrator?
Administration and taxes. Not my strong sleeve, especially the latter!
How do you stay motivated when you experience a creative rut?
That does happen. When I was a teenager that was very difficult for me to handle because it felt like losing my compass for some days. These days I know how to cope with it much better. I completely ignore it and distract myself with other non-creative work like cleaning up and organizing old files. Cleaning up your surroundings cleans up your brain as well. Anyway it always comes back after a few days. Chocolate helps too!
What has been your favorite project or creation so far?
This is an ever-changing thing! But right now I really like my last drawing of Unia Pakhomova in one of the last Gucci shows. It does something to me when I look at it.
What is your ultimate goal with your artwork?
This will sound a bit weird and dramatic now but I thought for a very long time about this one final goal and the ultimate success and then I realized that this is an illusion. The thing with creating art and having a creative process is that a status quo doesn’t really exist. The only constant is the steady pursuit of creation. And this is the goal and the happiness. You have to accept that it will always be a process. There is no final goal, it’s not Super Mario.
Any last words?
Well, thank you very much for the interview, Tola! The only word of wisdom is to draw draw draw. Very often the magic happens by doing it and not by thinking up a concept.