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Q&A with Erica Sharp

Fashion and lifestyle illustrator

I'm Erica Sharp, a freelance fashion and lifestyle illustrator from the UK. The work I do is mainly for magazines and books. I've just recently written and illustrated my first book, Cutting Edge Fashion Illustration, which was published worldwide in May this year.

What inspired you to become an illustrator?

I grew up with a lot of cultural influences from my Japanese Mother. As a child I loved manga, origami and calligraphy- it's such a visually rich culture. I was always making things and drawing my favourite anime characters. I studied illustration at university and knew my strength was in figure and portrait drawing, this then developed into a focus on fashion illustration.

What design software do you use?

I draw and paint the majority of my work, but I use Adobe Photoshop to tidy things up and tie everything together.  The process always starts with pencil drawing and then I create additional layers with watercolours, inks, collage and digital colour.

What is your ideal work environment?

I'm lucky enough to have a studio at home which I share with my husband who is a 3D animator.  We both like working in a calm and quiet environment, we aren't very sociable when we work together!  I collect lots of imagery which I put onto a pinboard above my desk and I have heaps of fashion books and magazines for inspiration.

Where does your design inspiration come from?

I look at fashion designers work a lot, and always keep up to date with fashion week to see all the next season's designs.  I love looking through fashion editorials in magazines too.  I often go to exhibitions, I particularly like the National Portrait Gallery, Somerset House, and the V&A in London.

Who is the person you admire most?

I admire Henri Matisse, not only for his incredible use of colour, shape, and pattern, but his passion.  He worked tirelessly, even through ill health, to bring joy through his art.