Kerrie Hess Bridal Portraits

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Kerrie Hess is introducing brides to a new element for their special day: a painted portrait of their wedding dress. Read on to learn more about the Australian born girl who has taken Paris, the fashion world, and now the bridal industry by storm.

How old were you when you first fell in love with drawing? I remember drawing from around five years old. And then I began art classes on the weekends from around seven.

Can you remember what you drew most as a kid? It was definitely women, fashion, and dresses. The same subject that I love today, but obviously very simple in style back then!

What do you love to illustrate? Why? I am pretty obsessed with Paris generally as a subject. I think living there for two years definitely influenced my work. I love the beauty of everything in Paris; the buildings, fashion, florists and even patisseries. I also adore painting couture dresses as I feel like they are so timeless. And now being in the process of planning my own wedding I am completely obsessed with wedding dress couture too, to paint as a subject.

Do you remember what your first commissioned illustration was? If so, describe it. Yes my first ever commission was when I lived in London – so long ago it was before we emailed attachments! It was for The Arcadia Fashion Group that own Topshop. I did the painting and delivered it there myself by hand keeping the piece out of the rain the whole way. Back then I really didn’t know anyone else that worked as an illustrator or artist so I feel like I have had to figure it all out along the way. Then my big highlight was definitely my solo exhibition in Paris at Le Meurice Hotel. It was a show of 17 pieces there in the ballroom that both Picasso and Dali have previously shown, so it was such an honour.

What environment sparks your creativity the most? I love a very simple black and white space for my lounge and bedroom so I can switch off from work! But for my office I have been inspired by the interior of the Dior boutique in Paris. Lots of white, grey, pastel pink and a touch of gold. It’s a lovely calm space, and I even have a space for painting which is a lovely thing after having to squeeze my office into my bedroom in Paris.

Can you remember the moment when you realised illustrating was your calling? I think it was after doing a job for Louis Vuitton global that I really felt ‘Wow, this is what I am meant to be doing!’ Then when I released one particular print in my print shop and all 25 from the edition sold in around 4 minutes. I knew then there was a market for prints of the things I love too.

Describe your average day at work. I am up at 6.30am every day, as there is always a lot to do before getting my little boy Marcel to school. I’ll then be back at my desk by about 8.45am to go through emails and plan my day. I am then generally illustrating or painting until around 4pm. Post school my son and I will usually go for a walk before dinner. Once he is in bed, I tend to do a little bit more work to make up for the time that I lost in the afternoon / make any calls or Skypes to Paris where most of my clients are. Then it’s time for a book and a herbal tea before bed or an episode of something trashy before doing it all again.

What inspires you? I find that both Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock are influential characters in my drawings and I find that I do have a bit of an obsession with their style. (I grew up on Hitchcock and Fred Astaire movies while other kids my age were watching Footloose!) I also adore the visual styling of Grace Coddington and the vintage illustrations of Rene Gruau.

What do you love most about illustrating? I think if your job allows you to be creative in some way it feels a lot less like work. Obviously I have both my own deadlines and those of clients, but still, it’s always creative so I can’t ever complain about that!

Describe the signature style of your illustrations. I would say that it’s intuitive watercolour. My style has definitely evolved over the years to what it is now. I made the move to paints and brushes instead of pens and computer about 12 years ago and I much prefer this approach now. I have loved moving away from digital work, it feels more authentic and it has been a nice progression. Plus I like to spend as little time on a computer as possible. I am so much happier in a mess of brushes and paints. I also like to leave out a few details so you have to fill them in with your eyes. I suppose romance and mystery are what I am always aiming for as far as style.

Tell us a bit about the services you offer for weddings. I have just launched Custom ‘Bridal Dress Portrait’ paintings. With quite a few brides contacting me about doing a piece of art that is special to their day I felt that just the dress would be such a special piece. I do them on dark or white paper stock and each one is unique to the details of the bride’s dress.

What do your custom bridal portraits entail? I generally work off photographs of the dress to create a beautiful original piece of art for these Bridal Dress portraits. They are a mix of watercolour and acrylic paint, metallic highlights and sometimes gold or silver foil if those tones are in the dress. The piece is timeless and unique. Something beautiful to remember your wedding day and dress. I am also set to release a series of Bridal Limited Edition Prints also, which are to come soon.

What are your future plans for your business? Honestly I think if I can just keep painting and drawing for a living that’s really all that I want. If I can still be doing this when I am 85, I’ll be happy! Exciting opportunities do pop up here and there to collaborate with some incredible brands but I think it’s important to remember that painting and art is really the main thing, and the reason that I started. So I try to not veer too far from that.

Check out more of Kerrie Hess’ artworks here.

 

Carly Tia
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