Thursday 18 December 2014

Exclusive: Irish illustrator Holly Shortall on the seal of approval from Kim Kardashian and Rihanna

Freya Drohan

Published 06/06/2014 | 13:03

If you haven’t heard of Holly Shortall, it’s time to sit up and pay attention.

The unassuming 25-year-old from Dublin is a freelance fashion illustrator and visual merchandiser, who this week alone has received a nod from Kim Kardashian and Adam Selman - the man behind Rihanna’s risqué CFDA dress- for her stylised drawings of the celebrities.

Here she tells us how it all began.

When did you start doing the fashion illustrations?

I've literally been drawing since I could hold a pencil. My mum (author Susan Stairs) was an artist before she starting writing, so she always encouraged me to draw. Over the years I've kept at it, because I just love drawing, and its only in the last year I've somehow managed to build up a following online and channel my love of drawing into a career! A lot of people ask where I learned to draw but I've just thought myself over time- I've definitely still got a tonne to learn!

Are the illustrations more or a hobby or have you considered making a career out of them?

They went from hobby to job, literally almost overnight. I don't know why, but people just really love them, especially the celebrity ones. I take commissions weekly, and still work part time for a fabulous window display company called Visual Sense, which I absolutely love - its another way to channel my creativity and as a team we have such a laugh.

First 'pinch me' moment?

Obviously, the interest I've had from Kim Kardashian has been insane. She has shared my work to her 53 million combined social media followers which is unfathomable. You can’t buy publicity that great! Not that I'm in anyway obsessed with her, but she is the most famous person in the world right now so I like to do a new one of her every week, keeping it topical. I did one this week of her wearing an amazing Balmain dress and she saw and 'liked' it on Instagram last night, so I would love her to share that too!

I also got a lovely email yesterday from Adam Selman who designed Rihanna's CFDA awards dress this week, to say he 'saw and loved' my 'beautiful work' (I did an illustration of it) which was so nice of him.

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What fashion illustrators (or artists) do you find influential?

I love Peter O'Brien's illustrations as they're so organic. I wish I had his natural talent for watercolors. I also found a gorgeous Boston-based illustrator on Instagram, also called Holly, and I love her beautiful illustrations too. (@HNicholsIllustration)

Who are your favourite people on Instagram?

I actually love following make up artists. I love make-up! Two girls who I really adore are a make up team called @MatteToMetallic. They're like me, just two passionate girls trying to make a living doing what they love by working their bums off! I love their before and after make over photos. I love the McGinn sisters (@mcginnsisters) they definitely have their finger on the pulse of Irish Fashion which keeps me up to date with what’s going on!

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Describe your style.

I tend to stick to a pallet of black, gold and leopard print. I'm not very girly at all but like to have my hair nice and wear a full face of makeup at all times, with loads of gold rings and some chunky army boots.

If you could collaborate with any brand or magazine, what would it be?

Oh God! Could I be so cheeky as to say my life dream is to work with Vogue? American Vogue! Imagine! My best friend Grace Moore assisted Grace Coddington on the Irish Vogue shoot last year which was huge so I'd love to follow in her footsteps. I don't see anything wrong with having huge dreams to work towards even if its a little unrealistic!

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