Playful, contemporary and bringing illustrations to a whole new dimension into fashion, Damien Cuypers showcases his true colors. Hailing from France, but based in New York, his work has been recognised and featured in both American and French magazines such as T Magazine, Grazia France, New York Times Magazine and M Le Magazine du Monde. We catch a hold of him to get to know a bit more about him and his work.
Can you please describe what you do and where are you currently located?
I'm an illustrator based in Brooklyn, NY.
You graduated from École Emile Cohl, in Lyon (France), which is considered a prestigious art school internationally. Were you always inclined towards creating illustrations?
I've always been drawing since I was a child, so for me it was only natural to go to an art school. But I never really decided to focus on illustration, it happened a bit by itself.
Your illustrations are quick and detailed at the same time, very energetic and colorful too. Did you try various mediums to find the one you were most comfortable in?
Of course I tried different things, especially during my school years. I guess what I do is a combination of my love of color and my love for hand-drawn lines. The crayons and color pencils I use have the advantages of being bold and intense, like oil pastels, while being also defined and playing with the grain of the paper. I work on a rather small scale (usually A5) so the imperfection and the accidents of the line make the drawings more vivid.
Did it take you a long time to become aware of your drawing style and become comfortable with it?
It took we a while, yes. I had stopped drawing for a little bit when I lived in Paris. One evening I was at Rosa Bonheur, I had just bought some new crayons and I started drawing my friends as fast as possible. It was a lot of fun for them and for me, and that was really the starting point of what I do now. I was always comfortable with it, but now I have more practice and my style has evolved a little. The one thing I'm really happy with is now I've a lower tolerance to bullshit and unpaid job ‘opportunities’.
With illustrations, when sketching, do you usually produce your first illustration as your last or there’s a long development process?
It depends. For the fashion week drawings it's one shot, and if it's not good or I do a mistake, I can start over. For commissions and magazines there is usually at least one round of sketches. I like both methods and what matters in the end is the drawing, not how I did it.
The fashion illustrations you create are very well composed and you seem to focus on creating most of your work within that industry. What made you allow fashion to become the focal point of the majority of your work?
This goes back to my first job after I started focusing on drawing again. A friend in London asked me to produce portraits of famous art world figures attending Frieze Art Fair for the website where he worked. It went really well and from there snowballed and drifted naturally to more fashion and lifestyle requests.
Fashion is a very eclectic world and industry altogether. Do you gain inspiration from it and allow it to translate it into your work?
That's a tricky question. I love watching the fashionistas, the collections and the weirdness surrounding fashion weeks. It is very inspiring, but I think it influences more my sense of aesthetics in general for fashion and design than really changes my way of drawing or using color. I'm more influenced by illustrators and painters.
Are there any commissions or accomplishments you feel very proud about? And do you plan on doing any collaborations with other artists any time soon?
I am very happy I had the chance to work with Hermes Homme for two seasons drawing the preparation of the show and the backstage. And my favorite ongoing job remains covering fashion week for T magazine. I am very free, I am at the same time artist and curator.
What are you currently up to now and where can we see more of your work?
Right now I'm on semi vacation. I'm spending most of the summer upstate, enjoying work being a little slower in August. You can see more of my work on my website, on Tumblr and on Instagram.