At only 26, British fashion illustrator, Scott W Mason, has already got some big names under his belt, having worked for Apple, Ted Baker, Reiss, Axel Arigato and Selfridges. Illustration is something that began as a hobby when Scott was as a child. His continued passion for drawing has enabled him to turn illustration into a rewarding career. Scott studied Fashion Photography at Falmouth University, where he started to introduce drawings into his photos. He soon started to become recognised for his work and Walk London were fortunate enough to catch up with Scott to discuss his successes & experiences working alongside the fashion industry.
Make sure you give Scott a follow on Instagram to check out more of his work: @scottwmason
Scott, tell us a little bit about your background?
I was born and raised in Hampshire. I’ve always drawn from a really young age. It was mainly comics & manga (Japanese comic books). I was quite an ambitious child, I would make little comics, get them printed and come up to London and try and flog them on a stall. I don’t think I sold many, but it's still a pretty cute story.
When I started secondary school, I discovered America’s Next Top Model. I was obsessed with it and started drawing that. It also got me interested in photography. I loved the shoots, however they had huge budgets which I didn’t have haha. So instead I thought I would draw my photoshoots. I soon discovered that I couldn't draw as well as you can photograph.
I went on to study art & design at college, where I mainly focused on photography, which lead to me studying Fashion Photography at Falmouth University. In my first year, I realised that the work I was producing wasn’t very ‘me’. I started to incorporate my drawings into my work and that’s when my grades started going up and people started recognising my work amongst my course mates.
It was so easy! With photography, you've got to have all the equipment, a team, a model, a studio, and lighting – the list goes on! Whereas with illustrating I just need me, a pen and paper.
Do you take a pen & paper with you everywhere?
I do yes, and it’s a problem – haha but not a bad one. I walk into a restaurant and see those kid’s menus with the crayons and the plain section to draw in.... ooh haha! I get so excited – I am here for this! My friends roll their eyes, probably thinking “ah we can’t take you anywhere”. I just really enjoy it; I get so excited about a blank piece of paper.
What inspired you to start illustrating?
I distinctly remember that to keep me happy, my parents would plonk me down in front of a Disney film with a sketchbook. I suppose things like Pokémon sparked my interest in cartoons and my drawings. I went in the fashion direction when I was older & started watching America’s next top model. I liked that it was arty and creative. Its focus wasn’t just selling clothes. I’m actually quite scared of my current work looking like my old drawings. That’s why I am quite minimal in my drawings now. I don’t want them to start looking like manga again.
What was it about illustration in particular and not any other form of art & design?
I feel that I have more control over it. I used to sketch my photoshoot ideas, I would be on set and show my model what pose I wanted her to do. I remember her saying “how is that humanly possible?” I’d think “what do you mean?” haha. I thought sod it, I’m just going to draw instead. You can make whatever you want. There are no external factors other than your own ability that can limit you. I’ve started to make little animations to expand my skill set, I don’t think many people are doing it in fashion, which gives me a USP (Unique Selling Point). I’m really enjoying creating animations, it’s cool to see my drawings move as if they’ve come alive.
Could you explain to our readers exactly what a fashion illustrator is?
No one really knows! A lot of the time, people assume I’m a fashion designer. I’ve had it so many times where people say “oh, I love the design of this dress” and I have to awkwardly say “well... it's Prada or whoever not me! I haven’t actually designed anything”.
So a fashion Illustrator, is someone who documents current & existing fashion through illustrations. We interpret and produce artwork focused on the finished garments. There are ways of using it in the industry but it’s not a necessity. My job is a bit weird because nobody really knows what we do or why we do it haha.
I suppose that’s what’s so great about it, because it’s experimental?
Oh completely and I think it’s definitely having a moment, especially on Instagram, there’s a lot of illustrators coming to my page and seeing that being a fashion illustrator is a thing, they like it because it’s different, interesting & expressive compared to just a photograph.
Could you describe your style of illustration?
I would say minimal and abstract. I can see what I’ve drawn clear as day, but some people say “I LOVE it... But what actually is it?”. It can be a little awkward at events sometimes, when I've done portraits of customers. They’ll look at it and not know what it is. I suppose that’s part of the fun of it and what makes it interesting, trying to figure it out and seeing something through a different light. Lots of people have said I’ve got a flow. The colours & the brush strokes are strong and energetic, which is ironic because I am the most un-energetic person ever haha.
I’d also say modern, I realise I am using very loose terms but its art darling, it is what you want it to be!
Why did you choose fashion as your main focus?
I liked looking at runways and I would get inspired by them and want to draw it or respond to it.
It might change, you never know I suppose. I’ve been attending life drawing classes; I want to put more of myself in my artwork which is something I have struggled to do. Most people just draw runway models while they’re walking. I've been trying to figure out how I can put myself in that, I am relying on poses to relate to body language, to evoke movements, so that’s why life drawing is so helpful.
If you could go back and tell your 18 year old self something, what would it be?
Don’t be embarrassed about this passion I have. For years, I was so embarrassed that I could draw, which seems ridiculous now. I went through a phase where I didn’t draw, but it has transformed into something amazing which is what I do now. I would say, don’t be shy about drawing, it was and still is my passion. I cared too much about what people thought. If I had drawn more then, I might be a lot better at it than I am now.
I used to hate going to arty things. I thought that it was so pretentious and everyone was stuck-up, self-obsessed and took themselves so seriously. When really, it’s not that at all. It is about having fun, being expressive and non-judgemental. I do understand that it can be intimidating at first. My friends are too afraid to draw with me, I think there is this huge issue where people are scared and care too much about what other people think, almost as if there is a fear of art unless you’re really arty. It should be a part of everyone's everyday life.
What is your favourite piece of work to date?
It changes a lot, but at the moment my favourite piece is the Philip Treacy flipbook animation. But my favourite illustration is of the Viktor & Rolf 2019 Couture show “fashion statements”. I like the pose and I think I portrayed the mood I wanted to evoke. It also reminds me of Egon Schiele, who I am a really big fan of.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
I’ve worked for Ted Baker, Reiss and Selfridges which has all been pretty cool.
But one of the coolest things I’ve done so far is working with Apple. They invited me to a ‘today’ event. Today is where you meet creators, pick up a new skill etc. I was all mic’d up and I talked about my work and experiences and I showed people my work. It was in a store on Regents’ Street and my work was on a huge screen as you walk in, it was a bit of a pinch myself moment! Walking in seeing my artwork there... I was like “oh my god, this is why I do what I do”. But the name behind it, Apple, one of the largest and most recognisable brands worldwide was a pretty cool feeling and an amazing experience.
Do you have a dream client or brand, which you’d love to work for?
Kenzo would be the dream brand. I just love their products and adverts, it's very bright & colourful. They have worked with Quentin Jones; I love her work; she has always been a huge inspiration of mine. I would also love to work for a brand that does collaborations with artists e.g., limited edition t-shirts or prints etc. I’m not too fussy who, as long as they have a good reputation and are an established brand in the fashion industry.
Do you have a go to shoe?
Yes, I’d say my go to pair of shoes for everyday errands would be my trainers and they go with anything, but when I want to get a bit dressed up or I have an event or gig etc I tend to go for a pair of boots. They’re just really reliable and comfortable, especially when I’m on my feet a lot and they’re a bit cooler than formal shoes. In particular lace-up boots, especially from WALK London haha.
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