Happy Feature Friday!
Hello everyone! This week we’re featuring fashion illustrator Chelsea Bonus. We love her work for all its intricate details and life-like qualities. Her pieces look like they’ve walked straight off the runway and onto her sheet of paper. Chelsea is currently illustrating for clients on a part-time basis with the goal of making illustration her full-time gig. Like many of you creatives know, having a side project or business can be hard to keep up with. Chelsea’s take on this is that if you want it enough you’ll make it happen. We’ll be looking out for her illustrations in the future as we have no doubt that she will.
: Tell us a little about yourself.
: My name is Chelsea Bonus.I’m from Wicklow, Ireland and have been drawing for as long as I could hold a pencil! After finishing my degree in fashion design I started working as a freelance illustrator, following fashion and beauty trends with a pencil and paper.
: How did you get started illustrating and when did you find out it was something you wanted to pursue professionally?
: I’ve always loved drawing and fashion and this career is the perfect combination of the two! It was only after coming across illustrators like David Downton and Kelly Smith that I realised it was possible as a profession.
: How did you find your own illustration style and how do you suggest others find their aesthetic?
: I’m not sure if I ever found it to be honest! It just happens naturally I think. When you’re practicing and honing your own skills and finding your own inspiration I think it’s something that continues to develop by itself.
: What makes your illustrations different from others out there?
: I guess the level of detail. A ‘fashion’ illustration is meant to be all about the clothes but I spend a lot of time on the faces of the subjects as well so maybe that’s what differentiates my work.
: What is the best part about freelancing? Are there any challenges?
: It’s certainly challenging as I’m only part-time so deadlines can sometimes be a stretch to work around but the hope is to make this a full-time job. There is certainly always something to do when you’re working for yourself but I enjoy it all, the research, the social media and marketing aspect and of course the drawing. As for the financial side, I will be more than willing to delegate that to someone else once I can afford it!
: You’ve worked with some amazing clients and had your work featured in many Irish magazines. How did it feel to see your work published and used by these well-known companies?
: I’m very lucky to have gotten the breaks I’ve had and work with such great clients. It certainly helps that within the Irish fashion and publishing communities everyone knows someone else to pass your contact onto and they’re more than happy to spread the word. I’m always excited to see a finished illustration in print, it will never get old!
: In all of your illustrations the faces are so life-like! How hard is it to make your illustrations look like the real people they’re supposed to represent?
: Thank you! I think it’s all down to practice, over time you notice all of the particular details that make each face individual and it becomes easier to draw recognisable portraits. Sometimes I find if I step away for a few minutes and compare my drawing to the reference picture it’s easier to spot if something is off, even down to the shape of an eyebrow!
: What is your typical day like? (How many pieces do you do each day, what else can you be found doing?, how long does each piece take—the process)
: Depending on the time I have during the week or the jobs I have on it can vary. I could spend one whole day or two drawing and finishing the actual illustration depending on the commission. I also try to keep on top of my emails, update social media and my website and drink far too many cups of tea.
As for my process, once I have my references I will start drawing. I just use a mechanical graphite pen and plain a4 paper. Once the sketch is done I will scan it in so I have a clean copy then maybe add watercolour and scan it in again. From there I will clean it up in Photoshop, remove any dust from the scan, maybe add more colour, to prep it for print.
: What do you consider the highlight of your career so far and where do you hope your career goes next?
: Creating the portraits for the Smashbox cosmetics event in Dublin was a definite highlight. It was great to get involved with such a big name and was also a brilliant opportunity to meet all of the guests I had drawn! The goal is to turn illustration into a full-time job and hopefully work for some great clients along the way!
: Do you have any tips for aspiring illustrators or any specific advice for those looking to freelance as well?
: I guess it’s like anything, if you want it enough you will make it happen. Make the most of social media to market yourself and don’t forget to enjoy it!