March 6, 2014

MBF Profiles: Danielle Meder

We first mentioned Danielle Meder two weeks ago during our Fashion Week Roundup and were so impressed by her visionary illustrations that we had to know more. With fashion week just over yesterday, we thought it'd be the perfect time to catch up with the famed live sketch artist and find out how she got in the business and what medium she plans on working with next.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF Trend Consulting: Please tell us a bit about your background. How did you become an illustrator and specialist in designing paper dolls?

Danielle Meder: I was homeschooled when I was a kid so I had a lot of time on my hands. We grew up in a log home near a very small town, and my first contact with the idea of fashion was through history books I got at the library. I started drawing paper dolls inspired by the history of costume when I was just a kid. When it came time for me to attend university, I chose an applied program in fashion design so I would be able to learn the technical aspects of pattern drafting and sewing.

MBF: You are calling yourself a Trend Theorist. What are the thoughts behind being a Trend Theorist?

DM: I’ve been fashion blogging for quite a while, writing about ideas and sharing my drawings. However, once fashion blogging became a trendy thing around 2008, I found that the assumptions people made about being a “fashion blogger” no longer accurately reflected what I was doing. So I invented a new title for myself, and that is “trend theorist." It’s not totally clear what a “trend theorist” is, which means I get to define it for myself.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: You have covered quite a few amazing designers at the NY RTW Fall 2014 shows – which ones where the most exciting? How did you get invited to the shows? Had you done previous work with the designers or someone on their team?

DM: Thank you! This season I was most excited to sketch Son Jung Wan, Yigal Azrouel and Skingraft. I was given access to these events by sending a request to the designers’ PR contacts a few weeks before.

MBF: When did you start sketching at live events? How has it changed/evolved over the last couple of years?

DM: I’ve been sketching at runway shows since 2006. It used to be very rare to see people sketching at the shows – but in 2013 there was a very identifiable uptick of artists at fashion shows – from young students to more venerable illustrators like Bil Donovan.

MBF: When sketching fast passing models how do you capture the essence of the look in seconds? Also how do you quickly determine whether to use the Ipad Paper app or watercolor?

DM: I decide on what medium I am using before the show starts. Once I am sketching while the show is on, I don’t have time to think too much about anything – live runway sketching at its best is spontaneous and intuitive.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: You have worked with a variety of clients – what project enticed you the most?

DM: My two favourite projects were collaborating with FiftyThree on live sketching New York Fashion Week on the iPad for Women’s Wear Daily, and a series of magnetic paper dolls I produced for The Cut.

MBF: In your opinion, why is live sketching becoming an emerging trend? Was it ever this popular before?

DM: I think the current trend for live sketching is a reaction to the ubiquity of photography. People are interested in alternate ways of recording events that have a more human touch.

MBF: What are the biggest challenges you encounter when working with clients and how do you overcome them to take your career forward?

DM: Certainly the challenge that I’m most concerned with is avoiding running with packs of other young people doing the same thing I’m doing. Being independent is both a curse and a blessing; I have absolute freedom within the confines of my circumstances. Transcending my station in life using whatever limited resources I have available is the locked door I am picking at, every single day.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: What does the future hold for you? What is your favorite medium now and what do you see as the next medium you might use?

DM: I am more interested in content than medium – so fashion itself interests me far more than illustration as a practice or whatever pencils and paper I happen to be using. I see my future expanding beyond illustration, as I’m becoming more interested in returning to my training as a designer and working with physical materials.

MBF: Who are the people that inspire you most? Do you follow other illustrators or blogs to get ideas?

DM: I avoid following other illustrators as it’s very important for illustrators to be different from one another – I don’t need the existential angst of comparing my career to others, and I don’t want to risk having my style unintentionally influenced by other illustrators. As such, I tend to study the work of dead illustrators more closely (especially Joe Eula and Kenneth Paul Block) and keep glancing sideways to maintain an awareness of the careers of my peers.

I am very inspired by writers, and I have a lot of friends who are writers. I find a certain kinship with the way that they think and work. Whenever I talk with my friends who are writers, I walk away with a million ideas.

photo via Danielle Meder

MBF: Our MBF Profiles ends with a questionnaire that follows in the footsteps of Proust's Questionnaire and American TV show host James Lipton's "10 Questions."

MBF: Your favorite swear word?

DM: “Fuck.”

MBF: Your least favorite word?

DM: “Should.”

MBF: Your favorite word?

DM: “Freedom.”

MBF: What turns you on?

DM: Blue collars.

MBF: And of course, what turns you off?

DM: Academics.

MBF: What sound do you love?

DM: Industrial steam irons.

MBF: If you could pick any profession – what might you be?

DM: My own. But if I had to choose another, I think I’d like to work in a greenhouse. I like tending to plants and I enjoy warm places.

MBF: If you could be anywhere right now, where would you be?

DM: Paris…missing another PFW at the moment.

MBF: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

DM: “…”

1 comment:

  1. Love the interview. She is talented and smart!


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