Season’s Greetings: Richard Kilroy

Not to sound like a codger recounting the past fondly, but I first came across exceptional fashion illustator Richard Kilroy’s work back in the Summer of 2009. And although I considered him and his work reasonably well established even at that point, he’s really made waves in the meantime.

Richard’s been featured so many times here, he hardly needs introduction and to gush any more here about his work would only be to repeat what I’ve said countless times before (here, here, oh and here too). Without further ado, I thank him for his generous time in collaborating, and wish him a very merry Christmas…

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

Richard Kilroy: To go home to Liverpool for a week with the family and eat until it hurts every day. Also, to catch up with friends and get pissed on less than £20 on a night out.

What is, for you, the spirit of Christmas?

Christmas is a time to indulge with those around you and enjoy it without guilt. I love catching up with everyone back home. I see Christmas as more of a celebration of the year than New Year’s Eve itself. In fact, I fucking hate New Year’s Eve.

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Oh god, there have been a few! The big one has been putting my book together, which has meant meeting and getting to know so many prolific illustrators; the final line-up is looking incredible.

Receiving invaluable help and mentoring from Richard Gray (the illustrator, not the journalist) whom I have the upmost respect for.

This one is a little self-involved but seeing David Downton and Julie Verhoeven mention me in interviews as their illustrator to watch – pretty surreal moments for a fanboy who has followed them for years.

Going to my first menswear shows and seeing the palaver that goes with it.

Tutoring drawing classes for the first time at the Royal College of Art and working with so many incredible talents. Also, many late night conversations on Facebook chat with Tara Dougans. We’re both emerging illustrators and friends so we’re always gossiping, bitching, and relating over everything that we’re doing.

If you could give just one gift this year, what would it be?

Fuck knows.

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

A two week holiday. Or calf implants. Or funding for the next issue of Decoy.
Learn more about Richard Kilroy and his work | Learn more about premiere fashion illustration magazine Decoy | Follow Richard’s ceaselessly inspirational Tumblr


Decoy Issue 2.

Aaand he’s done it again. Illustrator/Editor Richard Kilroy has not only put and pencil to paper for the sophomore issue of his incredibly successful zine, Decoy, but he’s also gone and secured some of the craft’s most formidable talents to produce original illustrations to stand alongside his own.
If, like me, you’re on the brink of giving up on traditional press, then here’s a reminder of how it’s done well – niche, not packed with news that’s probably been released two weeks prior on the internet and bursting with original work from inspiring creatives.
^ The cover illustration by Ricardo Fumanal is probably my favourite thing in the past age. Love it. Unconditionally. Fumanal’s commissions to date range from Pull & Bear and Revlon, to Vogue Hommes Japan and Dazed & Confused.

^ Left – Tara Dougans‘ take on Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 2011; Right – Julie Verhoeven‘s ‘Looker’

^ Another preview inc. work from George Stavrinos
Oh, and I’ve somehow managed to end up amongst all the adored and more than able artistes in the form of a gushing article on why I’d go hungry for Thom Browne (which, I believe is accompanied by an illustration by Spiros Halaris, too exciting really). To read it, and to feast your eyes on the infinitely more interesting artwork, then…
Purchase a copy here for the minute sum of £4 (UK)/£5 (Europe)/£6 (Worldwide)
For more on Issue 1 – see my review here, and to keep up to date with all things Decoy, then follow the blog.

Debut: Decoy Magazine Issue 1.

Amidst hectic prep for last weekend’s garden party (London weather demands excessive consumption of refreshing alcoholic drinks) I received a package I’d been eagerly awaiting. Upon its arrival it was immediately down with the hoover, dusters, and (very) early glass of Pimm’s and onto feasting on fashion illustration at its finest.
Super-talented and all-round sound fashion illustrator, Richard Kilroy, whom I interviewed a while back, has just launched Decoy – a fanzine for fashion illustration, or so Kilroy modestly labels it. Is it just me or does the word ‘fanzine’ conjure connotations of naff material presented in amateurish fashion? Decoy couldn’t be further from such associations. Launched to garner more attention for those working within the area of illustration in fashion publishing, it’s a brief yet highly informative guide to who matters and why within this industry niche.
The premier issue features interviews with two of fashion’s top artists: Alex Noble and Cédric Rivrain, two more pop-culture-inclined artists, iri5 and Mr frivolous, as well as an ode to Bruno Pieters, both penned and pencilled by Kilroy himself.
^ The premiere cover featuring a haunting and oh so apt illustration – the mag’s mission statement is to provide ‘visual distraction’.
^ Contents page featuring a sketch of the Hugo Boss SS10 show catwalk.

^ An interview with acclaimed designer/stylist/artist, Alex Noble, on Gaga, Art Nouveau and Alexander McQueen’s “seductive rebellious tendencies”.

^ A eulogy for The Face

^ Cédric Rivrain work his romance-inflected magic on Kate Moss for Numéro.

^ A lament for the work of Bruno Pieters whose label is currently ‘resting’. Kilroy has given me good reason to re-discover the past collections of the Belgian designer.

Printed on newspaper in plain black ink, the visual impact is comparable to that of Kilroy’s own illustration work – simple yet boldly arresting. Available online from Richard Kilroy.

Q+A: Richard Kilroy.

Fashion illustration, once the central method of conveying designs of designers, hasn’t exactly been in high demand following the introduction – in the 30s – of photography as the means of communicating sartorial subjects. Leeds-based Richard Kilroy is at the forefront of what could be another turning of the tables. At least I’d like to think so. I mean, who else’s lines are as strong yet fluid, sparse yet impressive and undoubtedly directional. I had a bit of a natter with the man himself.

1. Your website brands deems you an illustrator, and much of the work you’ve done reinforces this definition (interpretations of runway looks for Ponystep) but your work also seems to tread beyond the mere call of duty. In other words, your aesthetic is distinctly artistic. So, do you call yourself an artist or an illustrator or both?

I guess I just like to currently define myself as a fashion illustrator, it’s the work I feel most passionate about and where I feel I can develop my style most in. I see so many fashion illustrations that restrict themselves to being diagramatic and they become really chained down by this. I really want to explore the shapes within the clothes and mold them into a new but still relative form, so the illustrations have their own distinct presence, rather than just defining the clothes. I have so many ideas that i still need to explore with regards to illustration, but that’s not to say i’m going to limit myself to this though.

2. Your illustrations can seem at once spare and refined and yet jubilantly colourful at the same time, a really eclectic appearance. How do you, yourself, define your aesthetic?

Haha, that’s the hard part, trying to define my work! I’ve always been a very monochromatic person, I hated using colours in school and college, HATED it. However i think all that time steering clear of it made me take a back seat, and really notice what colours work better in short explosive doses. Most of my work will only have one key colour within an illustration, there is nothing worse than accidentally overworking a colour use, it can deaden the impact of an image, especially when you are attempting to create something stark and immediate. I usually make sure the colour is highly saturated too to add to this.

Gareth Pugh Aw09 (for Ponystep)

3. V. generic but necessary all the same – What inspires you?

One of the biggest inspirations has always been the line techniques of Alphonse Mucha. He created the most amazing lines and compositions from things like billowing fabric and organic shapes, and without trying to sound cliché, there is so much you can suggest and do with just simple lines, it’s something i’ve really taken on board.
Jean Paul Goude has also been a big inspiration for years now too, his various cut ups and polygonal shapes were so revolutionary in terms of fashion imagery and abstracting the human form. I’ve got too many to list, but countless fashion photographers and designers all play a part too. The Face magazine opened me up to so many amazing creatives who know how to create such striking imagery, i wouldn’t be doing any of the work i do without its influence.

Raf Simons AW09 (for Ponystep)

4. Having dipped your toes in photography, do you reckon it’s something you could develop further? Or is illustration your sole vocation?

Again it’s something i’m exploring still, i’d like to experiment on a combination of both, but successfully. I usually roll my eyes when i see illustrations that incorporate photography as it’s just so uninspiring and old to me. I do really enjoy photography, but with fashion photography it’s never a solo effort. You have constraints like models, studio time, make up etc that can really hinder the process, and i can be a bit impatient with it. At the moment i’d rather sit with an A3 sketchpad and be in my own little world!

5. Much of your work seems to be influenced/informed by menswear. Do you have a favourite menswear designer?

Yeah over the last few years menswear has definitely inspired me more, there’s genuinely just so much more development with it at the moment, with regards to body shapes and proportions. Designers like Romain Kremer, Hedi Slimane, Ricardo Tisci and Raf Simons have breathed so much freshness into the mix. Also i’m just really enjoying experimenting with male figures and their shapes within my drawings, trying to find a way to combine with them with extended and suggestive lines etc

6. A recent post on your blog hinted a plot to become an illustrational fashion blogger, is this your next move or have you got other plans/projects in the pipeline?

Yeah it’s very much just at the idea stage at the moment, i don’t know if it would be the right direction for my work, but it’s something that hasn’t really been tapped into and the idea does interest me a lot. I’ve been looking into zines a lot at the moment too, i really like the idea of a small fanzine built up of just illustrations, produced to go along with each fashion season. Who knows!