Beauty And Fragility

Over­due is proud to show­case a spe­cial selec­tion of art­work by Pop­py Wad­dilove, an illus­tra­tor whose unique abil­i­ty to cap­ture the subject’s essence and emo­tion in a few del­i­cate strokes has seen her work fea­tured in Vogue and Tatler. Natasha Lakic talked to Pop­py about her cre­ative process and where she finds inspi­ra­tion for her beau­ti­ful illus­tra­tions.

When did you first dis­cov­er your pas­sion for fash­ion illus­tra­tion? How did you start? And also, why fash­ion, why not fine art?

It was always just there as a child with­out me real­ly under­stand­ing it. I used to be in my room draw­ing for hours dif­fer­ent cloth­ing designs and quite ele­gant look­ing women in my note­book — it just would come out of me. I was quite inspired by my mum — I used to draw from her a lot as she’s always been an ele­gant, poised woman and some­one who I’ve always looked up to. Then in Cen­tral Saint Mar­tins I stud­ied fash­ion design at foun­da­tion and I think that’s when it clicked — I just loved draw­ing not just the cloth­ing but the peo­ple who wore them, it seemed more nat­ur­al than any­thing else. So I went to study fash­ion illus­tra­tion at Lon­don Col­lege of Fash­ion.

You seem to be able to cap­ture the emo­tion with, what it looks like, min­i­mal strokes, so tell us more about your cre­ative process. 

I’m real­ly drawn to emo­tion. I think for me it is when I got into nude live draw­ing in my 20s. I was draw­ing a lot with a sharp­ened graphite pen­cil and my strokes just seemed very swift and quite emo­tion led. The strokes have pro­gressed more into paint. I use three dif­fer­ent sized paint brush­es and build a first to sec­ond lay­er of colour — then use these vari­a­tions of strokes on top, I’m quite attract­ed to the idea of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and strength togeth­er which is what I hope to con­vey in my women.

That def­i­nite­ly comes out in your art­work, when look­ing at your por­traits I can see how peo­ple con­nect to your sub­jects straight away. Where do you find inspi­ra­tion, do you have an ide­al sub­ject? 

Colour real­ly inspires me as again it’s very emo­tion led. Beau­ti­ful and frag­ile inte­ri­ors with views and grand tow­er­ing build­ings. Also women in beau­ti­ful cloth­ing. I have no ide­al sub­ject — what­ev­er gets my heart flut­ter­ing, I either take a pho­to­graph or screen­shot an image for a lat­er date.

Future def­i­nite­ly looks bright for you, do you have any goals or is there any­thing you haven’t had a chance to paint yet and would love to do? 

My goal is to have a book pub­lished of my art­work. I would love to paint at a cou­ture show as I love the grand­ness of cloth­ing and the elab­o­rate envi­ron­ments of where they are dis­played. I am also keen to col­lab­o­rate with more hotels and inte­ri­or design com­pa­nies — that’s the direc­tion I am hope­ful­ly head­ing towards.

What do you have com­ing up, any­thing excit­ing com­ing up that you’d like to men­tion? 

I’m hes­i­tant to men­tion what’s com­ing up, I’m a bit care­ful that way!! But there are excit­ing things in the works — includ­ing my work being on scarves and poten­tial­ly a very huge project that I have to keep secret. I will let you know!

How so you see social media influ­enc­ing artists these days? Have you noticed things chang­ing since you’ve start­ed? What’s your atti­tude towards social media in gen­er­al? 

Social media has its pos­i­tives and neg­a­tives. I love insta­gram — I choose to see it in a pos­i­tive light. It has helped me so much with reach­ing out to inspir­ing peo­ple and get my work seen by peo­ple all around the world. I’ve also been so lucky to receive sup­port, build new friend­ships and receive jobs/commissions through it — so it’s been an over­all good expe­ri­ence for me.

It has become a lot more sat­u­rat­ed now though and some­times it can make art­work seem less mean­ing­ful at times (you can fall into a trap for cre­at­ing for your audi­ence rather than your­self). But I think it’s just about set­ting bound­aries for your­self, not becom­ing too con­sumed with it — view­ing it in more of a light heart­ed way and always remem­ber­ing the core of your work. It’s impor­tant to not let it define you and to build mean­ing­ful work/personal con­nec­tions away from it as well.

One more thing… what’s your proud­est moment of your career and also what’s your most notable achieve­ment that made you think “I’m there now”?

I think my proud­est moment was when I was recent­ly select­ed by the fash­ion design­er, Peter Dun­das to be a part of his fash­ion illus­tra­tion exhi­bi­tion at Mia­mi Art Basel. Being cho­sen by Peter was amaz­ing and hav­ing my work fea­tured along­side extreme­ly estab­lished artists who I’ve admired for a long time such as David Down­ton and Bil Don­avon was incred­i­ble. 

Also illus­trat­ing the Gold­en Globes for Vogue was a mas­sive high­light and being fea­tured in Town and Coun­try for my inte­ri­or art­works. That was a real­ly spe­cial and hap­py moment for me.

No mat­ter how hon­oured I’ve been to be a part of these projects, not once have I thought that I’ve made it. I feel like I still have a long way to go and that’s what keeps dri­ving me. 

Words Natasha Lakic
Illus­tra­tions Pop­py Wad­dilove

See more in OVERDUE Issue #002 Out Now and avail­able here.