Art and fashion have always been a part of Pippa McManus’ life. Her dad, an engraver, and her mum, an artist, taught her how to paint and draw at a very young age. Pippa recalls her mother dragging her to countless fashion shows at department stores like Aherns and Myer as a child, but it wasn’t until she bought her first Paris Vogue at the age of 14 that she really fell in love.
Since studying fine art and fashion and textile design at the Western Australia School of Art and Design, Pippa has been very successful with her fashion-inspired illustrations. She’s done everything from painting murals for boutiques to designing covers for city guides, and her work has been displayed in a number of exhibits throughout Australia and overseas.
I spoke with her about why she chose fashion, what inspires her, and, as she leaves her twenties and moves on to her thirties this year, I was curious to know what lies ahead for the talented Pippa McManus.
What is it that draws you to fashion? Why not draw or paint something else?
I’ve often thought about that. I feel such a strong connection to fashion. I love every part of it, from the 80 year old seamstresses that embroider for hours on end, to the passion of a fashion publicist promoting a label they completely believe in, to the models who work so hard every season to become icons that designers can use as inspiration. There’s nothing in the world I would rather paint at the end of the day.
Where do you find inspiration?
It’s largely from magazines and runway shows…I love all the up-and-coming U.S. designers like Thakoon, Derek Lam and Marchesa. I also love fun Italian design like Moschino, Valentino and the now defunct D&G.
Blogs are also a massive source of inspiration. It’s nice to draw inspiration from other people’s sources of inspiration, that way it morphs into something different again and hopefully that will inspire people too.
Have you travelled at all? If so, have your travels inspired your work?
I went to Europe and Asia with my parents when I was young and since then I’ve been back to Europe for work and pleasure…I’m planning to do a series of fashion illustrations from shows I stalked in Paris, I did the blogger thing and hung out outside a Victor and Rolf show and took photos of all my fashion heros (editors, stylists, bloggers and models). I’ve also been to America twice.
Do you own any of the clothing in your illustrations, or do you mostly just draw pieces from magazines and runway shows?
I have a thing where if I spot something in a magazine that I want really badly and can’t stop thinking about it I end up drawing it, and that usually makes that desperation to own it disappear. It’s actually almost like owning it, because in the way that someone may go through their closet and look back on great purchases, I go through my folio and I feel like I did own [the clothes in my drawings] in some way.
What was your first big break with your artwork?
I travelled to Los Angeles in 2007 for an exhibition curated by Stormie Mills called Australian Characters…It was so great to exhibit with amazing Aussie artists whose work I had seen around Perth. Having an artist who I admire believe in me enough to exhibit my work overseas was a big confidence booster and it really open[ed] my eyes to the things I can achieve.
Tell me about some of the interesting collaborations you’ve done, or magazines that you’ve had your work published in.
My business partner Leon Krasenstein and I did a couple of Sydney Guide covers a few years ago, and when Urban Walkabout came to Perth last year I was asked to do the first series of covers. It was a fantastic experience.
There have been so many great projects with different companies and businesses that I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in…[When I did] the mural for the Zara Bryson boutique, I was given absolute freedom to create whatever I liked. I think that’s the best way to get something great out of any creative, the more freedom and less restraints you give someone the better the outcome.
What are your goals for the future when it comes to your work?
I would love to be featured in Vogue and to be represented by a great illustration agency. I’m quite happy the way things are going now though, I have always wanted to be famous (or a house-hold name like Ken Done!) but the fun part is getting there.
Find Pippa’s work at: Hatch, Shop 55 Carillon Arcade, Perth, 6000
View Pippa’s work: http://pippasworkablefixative.blogspot.com/
Follow Pippa on Facebook: Pippa McManus Illustration
By Kari Bolen