Hello dear reader! I’ve decided to start a series of series on my blog, like the scrapbooks I used to keep in the ages P.I – Pre-Internets. A place to consolidate my thoughts, influences and reactions to all the glorious things that resonate and embed themselves in my brain. This is the first piece on artists and illustrators that have been huge influences on me throughout my life.
First up, one of my absolute favourite illustrators of all time, Antonio Lopez. A bit of background; Lopez was born in Puerto Rico in 1943, then moved to New York City when he was 7 years old. He attended the Fashion Institute of New York where he met his lifelong collaborator Juan Ramos and while he was studying interned at Women’s Wear Daily for whom he later worked. Shortly after taking up a position there he moved to the New York Times. He later moved to Paris where he worked closely with Karl Lagerfeld. His work featured many of the top models and celebrities of the 1970a and 80s, including Pat Cleveland, Donna Jordan, Jerry Hall, Jessica Lange and Paloma Picasso. He died of complications arising from AIDS in Los Angeles in 1987.
Lopez is famed for his incredible rendering of the human body, the movement and energy he captures. Part of what prompted this post was watching the fantastic documentary ‘Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion and Disco‘ – which if you have even the vaguest interest in 70’s fashion and New York culture is a must-watch – during which a contributor explains that Antonio was always dancing. He loved the nightlife of New York – which at times threatened to eclipsed his output – and this is so tangible in his style. The figures moves and swirl across the pages with confidence and ease.
Of course what I love is his use of line. It’s everything I aim to achieve; bold, confident and fully alive. The documentary shows him working – always to music – standing up and moving around, dancing around his desk and soaking up the energy in the room.
The heavy pencil line and use of watercolour combined with the way the lines creep over the edge of the illustration give the picture above so much energy.
More perfect line work with more than a hint of Pop Art, explicitly referencing Roy Lichtenstein with the Wham! plane and the half-tone dots.
This illustration above is exactly that, it illustrates a scene, a feeling, an aspiration. Lopez was one of the first fashion illustrators to do this rather than producing work that served primarily to show the clothing.
He was also extremely skilled in different media, such as this coloured pencil drawing above.
Interesting fact; the pose that Jerry Hall is striking in the bottom right is very similar to the nude photos of Marilyn Monroe published against her will in the first edition of Playboy in 1953.
The repetition of the models, each turning slightly further around than the one before gives rhythm and movement. I love the idea of taking the same figure and moving through the space on the page, it creates great impact. And those colours are glorious!
Line, colour and bold patches of paint. This makes me want to move away from my safe digital space and get my paints out.
This is fantastic. I would be extremely surprised of this was a secret diary intended for Antonio’s eyes only! Beautiful illustrations, lots of different media, hand lettering, everything is here. And the glamorous photos just top it off.
The reduction of form and perfect line work combined with the limited colour palette make a real impact. I’m loving the pink and red together and the flat plains of colour screen-printing brings.
More pink and red combinations in this classically 60s style illustration of Pat Forth, she of the shaven-eyebrows fame. I love the felt pen lines as they keep the hand-drawn quality.
I’ll end with this final drawing as it shows beautifully Lopez’s mastery of line and also how you can see his process from initial line work, to the big, confident brushstrokes. Just stunning.
All pictures are from these two books, both available on Amazon should you want copies for yourself. I also strongly urge you to watch the documentary!