Influential Fashion Illustrators: Tanya LingCredit:


An Artist First

Tanya Ling is a painter, designer, who also made a name as a fashion illustrator. Born in Calcutta, Ling came to London when she was about three months old. She spent most of her child hood in different places like in America, Africa, and England.

Ling studied and graduated with a Fashion Design degree and Textiles at St Martin’s School of Art in the United Kingdom. Here she met future husband and business partner William Ling. They moved to Paris where she started training under the tutelage of Dorothee Bis and then later on under Christian Lacroix.

When she felt she learned enough to start on her own, she moved back to the United Kingdom. She set up an art project space called the Bipasha Ghosh, an art space. By 1996, Tanya proudly showed off her drawings in her first exhibit. The exhibition was set in the studio of her friend, Gavin Turk along the Cahring Cross Road. It received a warm reception from the public. Because of this, British Vogue took notice of Tanya’s talent as her drawings were later commissioned by the publication.  Ever since working for Vogue, fashion magazines wanted Ling to contribute for them. Tanya has then worked for fashion titles such as Harper’s Bazaar, Elle US, among others (Packer, 2010, pp.79-81). She has also done work for non-mainstream magazines like Zoo, Tank and the literary magazine the Idler.  Apart from magazine’s Tanya has also been commissioned by Harrod’s, Diane Von Furstenberg, Jill Sander, Selfridges, and Givenchy to do fashion illustration work for their brand. She also did Louis Vuitton’s jewellery range.

The Distorted Perfection

She has a unique style which some experts say you could easily identify with, that is the elongated figures. According to Tanya she was influenced to draw in this style as in St. Martin’s, where she studied, they were used to sketching a bluebell dancer.  The dancers were theatrical, and tall, because of the vertical figure they were encouraged to draw a long figure. But apart from the height, she also gives details to the face and the eyes, as this gives character to the person. She uses acrylic and paint on most of her paintings and illustrations. She drew Chanel, Alexander Mc Queen and other works of known designers. Tanya’s illustrations won accolades, awards and trend reports.

Influence on Fashion and Art

In 2000, Tanya teamed up with fellow artist Georgie Hopton to present “Beautiful Drawings’. The exhibit which was shown at the Armory in New York received critical acclaim. Tanya braved the fashion industry even more as she presented her first ever ready-to­-wear collection in 2002. The show was presented at one of London pop and surrealist galleries which is the Mayor Gallery along Cork Street. Her fashion line was shown off and sold at Henri Bendel’s window display on 5th Avenue, New York.

By 2003, she took bigger steps as she displayed her autumn Winter Collection at the Institute of Contemporary arts in London. By then, Tanya received greater successes as a fashion illustrator and designer as British Vogue named her one of the most important trendsetter, and the Observer Magazine crowned her as the Designer of the year.

In 2009, Tanya accepted the role of Creative Director for the Verayta. Veryata is a new Ready-to-wear women’s luxury fashion line. Tanya was hired by Veryata’s founders’ Filippo Binaghi and Stefano Pilati.

Art in Her Clothes

As for designing, Tanya also has an unusual style and way with garments that fashionistas seem to adore. Tanya has been frank and enthusiastic when it comes to discussing her passion for creating artworks and fashion, as well as designing clothes.  She is like a maniac and like an artist as some fashion experts have observed. Her fashion designs were inspired by poetry, art, her children. IT was also influenced by her pro-Raj Indian roots. Tanya says, “I'm one of those Indian people who love the Fawlty Towers, PG Wodehouse-type Englishness.”

She has an impulsive approach to fashion.  Tanya would paint directly onto some of the dresses of Verayta dresses. According to her the dresses are still wearable as she uses acrylic on silk dresses. The thick acrylic does not crack, and Tanya assures that it would only be rubbery or be quite bendy. She would make use of satin prom coats or jersey dog coats and put together with cartoon dog bone belts. She is also into knitwear, which according to her has been inspired by her pretty daughter, Evangeline.

Unlike other artists, Ling gets inspiration from everyday people. She developed the habit of watching people wherever she is, in a coffee shop, on the street, in the market, in the mall. However, she specifically gets inspired by ordinary people (Packer, 2010, pp.79-81). She said that real styling geniuses lies in these people who manage to come up with a revolutionary fashion detail even when they know no one is looking.

She also looks beyond the fashion imagery, that is why she loves meeting various people, from the librarian to the market vendor. These are the people that almost always hand deliver to her a unique design or style which she “steals.”

“For example, recently I did jury service, and it was just fantastic not doing something that is art and fashion, and just to be there in a law court watching how that goes on, and being with the other jury members to see how the system works. And that’s what I enjoy, and I think that might come out in the mark making,” Ling said (Tyler, 2011, pp.152).

 She makes her own personal line, but is currently under Verayta. Apart from that, Tanya also helps out produce some of the beautiful fashion that could be seen off the runway from Marc Jacobs, Yves Saint Laurent, and François Nars. Even though she was in to designing, she still pursued fashion illustration. In 2011, a big hurrah happened for this astounding illustrator. Over fifty of her drawings were acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Currently, Tanya is still employed as a fashion illustrator. She is one of the top fashion illustrator’s around the world. She has been invited to grace many fashion and art exhibits where she proudly shows off her sketches. Her works have been featured in many newspapers, magazines and other publications. She was also included in Cally Blackman’s ‘100 years of Fashion Illustration.’

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