Life of Style: fashion illustrator Leigh Viner

Leigh Viner is an amazing fashion illustrator & photographer.  If you haven't seen her work before, get ready to be a fangirl.  Artful, colorful & insanely stylish, her Etsy shop has more than 20,000 admirers.  For me, as a girl with a passion for style & a fine arts degree, Leigh is an inspiration.  I hope that you enjoy her awesomeness.  Be sure to click through to visit her shop & website.   I am proud to have Leigh as the first of what I hope will be an amazing list of artists & girlbosses who are truly leading a life of style.  Keep reading to get to know Leigh & her gorgeous work.  

What inspires your work?

The inspiration varies depending what is reaching out to me at any moment.  It could be a song, a film, fashion inspired or a conversation. I make sure to journal the inspirations as they come each week along with keeping a file of tear sheets and notes that I can reference when I am ready to create from them

Opulent Speckle, Leigh Viner

Opulent Speckle, Leigh Viner

Has fashion illustration always been your passion?

I have always loved being creative & have been drawing since I was young.

I never had that (fashion illustration) as a main focus for a career; I just knew I wanted to do something in the creative field. I started as a makeup artist, which I did for 8 years. Then at night I would be painting and illustrating as a hobby. It was after I started sharing my work online that it began to show that possibility as a career.

Ruse, Leigh Viner

Ruse, Leigh Viner

What path brought you to where you are now?

I started selling my originals paintings on Ebay around 2003 and slowly started to build a fan base there and on Myspace. I found out about Etsy and signed up to sell prints of my work in 2007. With the help of my growing fan base & also blogs, I was able to begin building what is now a full-time career. It sounds so cut & paste but it took many hours of hard work, networking, perseverance to bring me to where I am at now. 


Do you have a piece that is special to you?  

I try not to pick favorites with my work, as when I am creating each one they are my only focus. Each one has a special meaning for me for many reasons. If I had to choose, I would say that it would be “Cricket.” (below)  I almost didn't finish the piece back in 2009, at the time I was creating it.  It was just not working for me. But I continued and went ahead and shared it. I think it was just different from what I was creating at the moment. Short story- today it is definitely one of my most popular pieces & a reminder to continue to experiment. I do love her!! 

Cricket, Leigh Viner

Cricket, Leigh Viner

You have been part of amazing collaborations. How do you decide which to accept?  Which was your favorite to work on?

I have been very lucky and, again, I cannot pick a favorite as each one was so special and unique. They were all completely different from one another. I can definitely say that my job is far from being tedious. 

When I am proposed projects, they are usually looking to collaborate with my style of art, but a few visions I could tell right away that another artist would be a better fit.  Instead of trying to do something that I know just doesn't feel right, I will be honest and suggest a different artist for those type of projects. 

some previous collaborations / clients: Max Factor, Lady Gaga, Gilt, Juniqe, COMPANY Magazine UK

Shadow Opus, Leigh Viner

Shadow Opus, Leigh Viner

What does your creative process look like?

I start with my inspiration and then sketch out my piece. If it is an illustration, I start with pencil and try to keep it as raw as possible in the sketch stage.  Then, I focus on the eyes. After that, I just flow with the piece and pull out media that I want to use as I am creating. I love mixed media of pen, watercolor and touches of pastel. 

After I finish that stage, I get it ready for the print version by taking a high res photo of it and adding a few touches digitally for the final version. 

Two if by Sea, Leigh Viner

Two if by Sea, Leigh Viner

What keeps you inspired in your day to day routine?

Reading magazines, going through Pinterest, Instagram & I always have music going. Sometimes, though, I have to put it all away as there is so much inspiration out there anymore that it can also be paralyzing. 

Draw the Line, Leigh Viner

Draw the Line, Leigh Viner

Do you have any favorite fashion illustration books?

The ones I reference most often are:

Drawing Fashion by Colin McDowell and Holly Brubach

Masters of Fashion Illustration by David Downton

Drawing Projects -an exploration of the language of drawing

The Art of Urban Sketching

I have a million of books it seems, but those are my top favorites at the moment.  

Hence, Leigh Viner

Hence, Leigh Viner

What are your favorite fashion pieces at the moment?

It has been very minimal as of late, but I am looking forward to the new warmer season by adding fresh investment pieces and then updating with a few new bags and brighter shoes.

I have my eye on Wendy Nichol’s Whipstitch bullet bucket bag & Stella McCartney’s Falabella Splash print bag and a pastel one from 3.1 Phillip Lim.


How would you define your personal style?

I love classic pieces. Each year, along with those few investment pieces, I love the comfort of the perfect jean and a good t-shirt. I work from home so most of the time that is what I am in until I go out. My favorites at the moment that I am stocking up on are James Perse v-neck pocket tees and Rag and Bone jeans.