Buro 24/7 Singapore exclusive: Meet Kelly Beeman, fashion's favourite illustrator

Buro 24/7 Singapore exclusive: Meet Kelly Beeman, fashion's favourite illustrator


Text: Adibah Isa

Image: Bimba Y Lola

After working with the likes of Loewe, J.W. Anderson and Tory Burch, Brooklyn-based fashion illustrator has been tapped for Bimba Y Lola’s Spring 2016 accessories catalogue

Enjoying a Grecian getaway with a little bit of Modigliani and some Gustav Klimt thrown in for good measure — that's what Bimba Y Lola's been up to this spring. You'll see the influence of these two greats of the illustration world come together in their Spring 2016 catalogue. The Spanish brand continues their relationship with artists — they've previously worked with photographer, Fanny Latour — by tapping into the expertise of Kelly Beeman, who combines figurative painting and fashion illustration to tell a compelling story.

While the New Yorker has shared that she's not a trendy person herself, Beeman does have a fashionable following: Her work has captured the attention of A-list designers including Tory Burch, J.W. Anderson and Loewe, where her sketches end up in lookbooks, editorials and shows. Her recent client? The quirky-cool kids from Bimba Y Lola, who've reached out to her for collages incorporating their accessories. While it's a new medium for Beeman, she continues to bring her post-expressionist influence to the Greek-inspired goods.

Combining prints and textures inspired by Greek paintings and mosaics, flora and fauna are also an essential feature in her drawings. We see Beeman's favourite colour combination — red paired with pastels — in the spread, along with muted earth tones interspersed with bright hues. 

Kelly Beeman studio

When did you first start drawing, and when did you dabble in fashion illustration?
It's something I've been doing ever since I can remember. Even back then, I was fascinated by creating characters and capturing their mood, or making allusions to some sort of personal I never really felt a calling, I just continued doing the thing I loved the most without thinking about it too much. I started illustrating fashion after spending several years obsessed with the idea of self-presentation and clothing particularly, and finding inspiration for my figures' clothing from the runways.

You've done a lot of professional editorial work for fashion-led magazines — which are you most proud of?
Choosing which one I am most proud of is like a parent choosing which child they love the most! One that stands out and will always be incredibly special to me was a portrait I did for Interview Magazine last year. My work had never been in print before so holding the magazine in my hands and seeing my artwork in that format was very surreal.

Who's an illustrator who inspires you?
Honestly, I don't really follow illustration that closely. I find inspiration in art history books and just try to focus on developing my art and allowing it to progress at its natural pace, while maintaining a balance of commissioned and personal work.

Your role models come from the film and music industries. Who are they?
I really admire Bjork as a uncompromising artist who is always experimenting with different elements and embracing the present, and whose integrity is unwavering. And I am kind of obsessed with Stanley Kubrick — I find a lot of inspiration from his later films, and admire his dedication to craft at any cost.

What piece of the collection has been useful for you as a source of inspiration in order to put together your illustrations?
What's great about this collection is how diverse the products are, yet how perfectly they inform and complement each other. For example, I may be working with a solid tone leather bag, for example, and look to the detail of an earring or print to inspire background decorative elements and it comes together really well.

Seeing as it's the #THISISGREEK collection, what elements of Greek culture inspired you?

I've been looking at classical Greek sculpture for poses and that beautiful serene expression that is so characteristic of Greek figures. For the background elements in the still life collages, I take inspiration from Greek painting and mosaics, and even herbals. I also gather inspiration from some unexpected sources as well, such as Joan Miro paintings.

 For more on Bimba Y Lola, click here.