Desiring simply to incorporate clothing into her illustrations, Kelly Beeman highlights the sumptuousness of fashion—the way it can transform a figure and serve as eye candy for the viewer. In this way, she became a fashion illustrator almost by accident. “When I started I didn't know very much about fashion or designers, I was simply looking for the right clothing for my figures and used fashion collections as a reference, and I would make decisions based upon the feeling I got from the clothes and whether or not they worked with the painting I had in mind,” Beeman tells The Creators Project.
After gaining exposure on Instagram, the fashion illustrator began working with magazines and brands such as J.W. Anderson and Mara Hoffman. No matter what they're wearing, her figures often have angular faces and intense gazes.
As much as the arresting figures in the pieces take up most of the composition, the backgrounds of each piece also play an important part. Beeman often surrounds her figures with natural elements: plants that frame and create another sense of movement. While Beeman acknowledges that this decision is often a purely aesthetic one, choosing these elements also helps to “elevate the character and position him/her in a place that is unusual and extraordinary.” It’s often difficult to place the figures—whether they exist in a totally staged environment or have wandered into a space already surrounded by greenery.
Beeman also plays with the visual nature of patterns and shapes to suggest natural elements even where they might not actually be any present. “Most of the time, those natural elements are not actual plants or animals, they're just shapes that I invent as a suggestion of something alive and organic, but strange and removed from the natural world, which you could interpret as a statement about human beings and our relationship to nature,” writes Beeman.
Beeman creates personal work as well, sharing much of her works on Instagram to more than 60,000 followers. She often experiments with different mediums depending on the piece.
“Oils and watercolors are the most challenging for me but also the ones I use the most because I love the end result,” writes Beeman. “I use Ink, graphite, gouache, colored pencils, and acrylics for faster work and really enjoy the process of these materials that don't require you to take long pauses, but to work in a more fluid manner.”
Currently, Beeman is creating watercolor studies for a mural to be painted in the summer—a piece she calls “kind of F. Scott Fitzgerald inspired” in its depiction of figures at a party involved in “affairs, betrayals, love triangles.” It seems her figures will continue to be mysterious yet alluring, secure in their exterior image but also their own imaginary interiority.
See more of Kelly Beeman’s work here.