Illustration Speaks Louder | Sara Japanwalla

While exploring the world of fashion and with great surge in the number of fashion designers, finding successful young ladies committed to illustration is something hard to come by I realized until I saw the portfolio of Sara Japanwalla. Illustration is that perfect bridge between words, reality and imagination. It is a step before imagination turns into reality be it science or fashion. Sara is a promising illustrator with many beautiful illustrations. Here is a portrait of how Sara sees herself illustrating!selfportrait

And I had a chat with Sara….

Khansa (HA): Sara, So tell our readers a little bit about yourself and your passion –  art and fashion illustration!

Sara: I have always loved fashion art and everything in between! I love to keep an eye out for anything new related to both , so fashion illustration seemed like the perfect solution for me as it combined both of my passions.  Although I really like collections, designers and such, I feel like Dubai really has an open market for fashion illustration as it is quite a new field so I wanted to experiment with this and inadvertently it has become my niche!

Khansa (HA): Do you do this for a living or do you have another job?

 Sara: I don’t have another job and I do, infact do this for a living full time! I don’t just do fashion illustration, but rather illustration as a whole. I do live illustration for events launches and parties, book illustration, editorial, storyboard illustration, branding for websites and companies, illustrated logos, illustrated mood boards concept design and so forth.  Many people think that illustration is exlclusivley restricted to fashion, but this is not the case as it is a useful for a variety of buisineses. Bakeries might want cute watercolour illustrations of cupcakes for their menus or buisiness cards, wheras a travel magazine might want an illustrated map of Rome for their latest article on sightseeing.  It’s a wonderfully adaptable and multi-faceted field to be in.

Nowadays, photography is used a great deal, to the point of it being overs-saturated, and, as a result people are looking for an alternative to this– something less commercial and more artistic with a personal touch!  The boutiques I work with find it refreshing to have the option of bringing back a sort of art reneissance to their brand so it helps them stand out from everyone else.

Khansa (HA): How did you become a fashion illustrator?

Sara: I became a fashion illustrator by accident, actually.  I initially wanted to become a designer, but many people just started looking at my sketchbook while pitching my ideas to them and they became more interested and intriuged by the way I communicated visually, rather than the designs themselves.  Since I loved the artistic side more than the design aspect , and there was a gap in the market it seemed like a very natural transition for me.

Khansa (HA): Readers, Am sure you would want to see an illustration already! Here’s a very pretty one!


Khansa (HA): What is your favourite medium to work with on your illustrations?

Sara: My favorite medium to work with is definetley watercolours . I just love the way they are so unexpected and they bleed so beautifully into each other. I don’t really like things that are too pastel and washed out, so I like to add depth by emphasising areas with black pen, marker and/or coloured pencil, while deliberately leaving certain areas washed out so it looks more distinguished.

 Khansa (HA): What for you makes a successful fashion illustration?

Sara: An interesting fashion illustration for me is one that can convey and describe a great deal of information with very minimal and fluid line work. Something that is beautiful in it’s simplicity but in actual fact it is very challenging to do.

Khansa (HA):Do you draw on location? If so is there any drawing you can share with us?

Sara: I wish I could tell you that I am an interesting artist who mysteriously sits in corners with offbeat little hats, and draws on location in aged, dog eared sketchbooks. In actual fact – I don’t. I’m very social and aside from live drawing at events, I only like drawing at a certain time in certain places. During the day I love being out and about, at fashion shows, launch parties and having fun!  I really SHOULD draw on location more, though!  Duly noted!


Khansa (HA): What has been the highlight of your career so far?

Sara: The highlight of my career has been working with a variety of extremely well known magazines in Dubai such as Grazia , Emirates Woman , Masquerade, Desert Fish and Jumeirah Magazine.  Another highlight has been illustrating for an American children’s book author on her book, Princess Charleston and the Isle of Palms. The first book released last summer and it has been so successful in America that we are creating it into a series, so level of international recognition has been really exciting!

Khansa (HA): Which fashion illustrators do you admire?

Sara: Fashion illustrators I admire are David Downton, Liselotte Watkins, Antoinete Fleur, Katie Rodgers, Connie Lim, Leilani Joy and Jacqueline Bisset.

Khansa (HA): Are you computer oriented in your work?

Sara: I use computers to enhance my illustrations, by brightening the colours, adding filters on photoshop, scanning in textures etc.  but I generally do  not draw directly onto the tablet.  I do strongly believe that digital art is the future, however and have started dabbling in digital painting by taking classes to improve my skills.  I do plan to get more familiar with this and include this method in my work more often but I don’t want to loose too much of that tactile hand painted quality.  Although I am open to new things, I’m quite a traditionalist at heart.

Khansa (HA):  In today’s world designers have incredible opportunities to connect with the outside world.  How have you created your community of fans?

Sara: The internet and social media, is indeed ,a very useful portal for artists such as myself to get out there and showcase our work.  Like others, I have tried to keep very up to date with the times and worked on creating a community through my website for showing my portfolio and projects, a blog which talks about my latest projects, a facebook group, instagram, and so forth.  I’m also working on creating a pintrest board too.  It really helps to hit all angles possible so you can reach a wide audience.

 Khansa (HA): Is there any advice you would like to give to illustrators out there?

Sara: My advice to all artists and illustrators out there is simple.  Do NOT listen to people who say that you cannot make a living out of this/it is not realistic to do this as a profession.  If you have a deep, deep passion from within to do illustration, and this CONSUMES you then you should follow your heart. There’s a quote from one of my favorite movies Sister Act 2 ( not a very intellectual  choice I know but still, hear me out…)

Whoopi Goldberg tells  Lauryn Hill “If you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is writing, then you are destined to be a writer. If you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is singing, then you are destined to be a singer”

This is very applicable for art too.  You NEED to have that passion and bleed for it in order to succeed.    Even if you cannot afford to do this full time, and you have a part time job it is still possible. Just take baby steps. Work on your portfolio, use the internet to your advantage, keep up with the times and don’t give up or listen to the realists out there!  Life is far too short to waste time doing things that are soul crushing. Keep dreaming and keep drawing!

Khansa (HA): Thank you Sara for your time! Hoping to hear from you soon! And dear readers, as Sara says “Keep dreaming and keep drawing, and not to forget keep reading!”3





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