Influential Fashion Illustrators: Jean-Phillipe DelhommeCredit:

From Photography to Drawing

Jean-Phillipe Delhomme was born in Nanterre, France in 1959. He finished his studies in 1985 at the L’Ecole Nationale des Arts Decoratif in Paris.

He was more interested in photography rather than drawing. The attraction was due both to glamorous lifestyle and the beauty of the photographs. He found the life an illustrator boring. However, he couldn’t shake off his love for drawing so he combined what he loved about photography, which is the lifestyle, with his drawing. He started travelling and going out looking for places and people that will inspire him to draw.

Apart from photography, he said that he had other influences. “I liked the work of people like Savignac, a great poster designer from the ’50s. His work is like a song you might hear on the radio; it’s popular, and at the same time there’s something poetic, light and joyful. At first, I wanted to be what they call an affichiste, like a painter but out in the street. Then I discovered illustrations. I wanted to do something that everybody could see. I wanted to be part of everyday life, participating in the economy and at the same time speaking to people on another level,” Delhomme says in an interview with the New York Times.

Delhomme’s launched his career in illustration with the French Edition of Glamour in 1987, via his now legendary series Polaroids de Jeunes Filles. Then later his some of his fashion illustration was first shown in British Vogue. After that, a number of fashion magazines offered him work, some of them are Vogue Nippon, Vogue Paris and House & Garden (Packer, 2010, pp.79-81).

Barney’s launched an advertising campaign in the early nineties.  The top New York department store used Jean Philippe’s gouache illustrations, which were captioned in comical text, and then later on changed into fashion photography. The campaign with Jean Philippe’s drawings became a huge hit and even grew on to billboards and animated television commercials focused on the American market. 

Childish Elegance

The illustrations of Jean Philippe’s has a signature style.  He makes use of playfully and good-humouredly childish figures. His charming work became tantamount to with visual wit and ingenuity. This has become his signature style which would often put forward his stylish yet enigmatic souls that is on the threshold of one delicate fashion crisis over another.

As an illustrator he describes himself as subtle and delicate. There are a lot of great artists who could be labelled as satirical, but according to him, he is not one of them. “Daumier was also a really great painter. But he was forcing, insisting on things. I am less insistent. People might get it or they may not. It’s amusing for those who get it, and they are not unpleased that others don’t. I base my work on subtle details and things that are fragile. Hirst is the complete opposite ” (Ireland, 2000, pp.89-92).

Connecting Couture and Hipster Fashion

Currently the well-known illustrator keeps a blog that is the unknown hipster. The blog has altered his working space and approach to illustration. He said “It’s the most exciting thing at the moment. I have no constraints. You see funny things and you share them. Before I would just keep these drawings in my studio or show friends. This way I get a bigger audience, people I might not even think of. I also show work that is more experimental. It helps push things forward” (Morris, 2006, p.279) he shares on a separate interview with another publication.

He says that creative people should just keep on working even if it is the recession. “In fact, there are lots of people blogging and content that is totally free. It’s a little bit crazy: who would have imagined that people would be working for free all the time? Business people’s creative input is making money, and during a recession they realize creative people might develop ways of working without financial support. So you have to fight the recession and more, but it’s always better to do something. Do your thing. The next one is: stand up for your work. You still have to fight for that. The third is to be optimistic,” he advises.

Some say that he is inspired by the urban lifestyle that he lives in the Brooklyn neighbourhood of Bushwick. He draws some of this on his blog “I was drawing places like it for the blog, and I went to a Basquiat show in Chelsea – great oil pastels on cardboard. I realized I could make my drawings really big using the same materials, and I started doing this with my drawings of Bushwick. In New York, I can still be overwhelmed by what I see, even after living here for so long. There is something strong that comes over me about the city, even if I am used to it. In Bushwick, there’s a great sense of space. The fact that it’s disappearing or that it’s already gone in a way is interesting. I also like the image of nature reasserting itself in an industrial environment. I was raised in the suburbs of Paris, and I always liked seeing a vacant lot or a yard where something had grown out of control,” he muses.

Apart from the community, he also shares a few thought s of fellow artists in to his blog. He posted Damien Hirst’ “End of Era” show and has this to say, “It’s hard to say whether it is the end of this era, a certain end of waste and comfort, or whether it’s the end of an era for Hirst’s clients! His work is amazing because it can challenge powerful people on the same level. For violent times like ours, it’s pretty much adept. He shows something and people get it immediately, as much as they would get a new blond trophy wife or a new Ferrari. You can’t get anything better. At the same time with Hirst, if you are on the other side, there’s a kind of humor and I enjoy it.”

Currently, Jean Philippe is the director for the animation advertisements for Saab. He has also written several novels, some of them is Comique de Proximite (2005) and the children's book Visit to Another Planet. He is a regular contributor for the GQ US, as he draws for the Style Guy Column of Glenn O’Brien. Jean Philippe also writes and illustrates a comical series named Criteres Esthetiques for the Architectural Digest, French Edition. Now he fulfils his desire to not be stuck in a room as an illustrator, as he goes around being employed by top magazine publications as an illustrator.


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