My love affair with the vintage photo…

I never really planned it this way, but a good proportion of the work I do as an illustrator consists of commissioned portrait work. I kind of fell into doing this; I always did it for my own friends and was used to doing similar stuff commercially but when my friend Sophie asked me to do a little drawing of her and her mum for her birthday present, I said I couldn’t do that and it wouldn’t look right. She characteristically insisted (I love that about her) and her mum loved the drawing. From doing this little piece as a favour, (I think she paid me in a delicious lunch made by her at the design studio we worked at together at the time) I got asked to do another and then another. Through good old word of mouth; the main medium that I’d never underestimate, and some sharing online I now do hand painted pencil and watercolour portraits and send them to a range of different types of people all over the world.

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I have painted families, groups of friends, lovers, brides and grooms, grooms and grooms, brides and brides! beloved pets, people that have passed, people right at the start of their lives and people towards the end. In short with my pencil I’m lucky enough to be asked to capture something special and meaningful for such a wide range of people. When someone comes to me wanting to trust me with an image that’s special to them and having me paint from it it’s so great, as it’s never going to be the same experience twice. I learnt quite early on the kinds of images that work well with my style, movement, laughter and candid shots work best, and I’ve been sent grainy camera phone images right along to studio professional posed photographs, and made them work.

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One type of image I really fall for when commissioned by someone is a vintage printed photograph. This week I just completed a drawing from a regular commissioned client, who sent me a photograph of his parents from their wedding, 40 years ago. There’s something so beautiful about these types of images, from the 70’s and 80’s which I just love so much. I think working from a printed and scanned photograph already gives the image a painterly feeling, which works so well when worked on in paint. Perhaps my love for these types of image is a reaction to the flood of images I see on a daily basis as an instagram…and general internet user. The beauty of these images isn’t supposed to be in highly edited perfection, but in capturing a moment, and as time goes by and fashions and aesthetics change, I as the viewer can appreciate this little capsule even more.

 

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I’m in one of those age brackets who even in my thirty years has seen the way we take photographs change almost year on year. From my dad’s beautiful Canon film camera which he carried around for much of my childhood documenting sunny days in the garden, my family’s swathes of clashing 80’s print and ice creams dripping down mine and my brothers little chins, to my teenage use of disposable cameras; posing withfriends with Spice Girls inspired not-yet-self conscious sass. Through to university days of bringing a cheap digital camera out with me to parties; sending it on a pass the parcel around the room and finally collecting it at the end of the night and posting the results to an unedited album on facebook, for everyone to greedily devour along with their hangover breakfasts the next day. Now to modern day with instagram posts, constant documentation and sometimes false realities, it’s definitely a strange metamorphosis. Perhaps it’s seeing this change that gives me this love for the older, an aesthetic not yet tinged with the need for likes.

I’ve shared some of my favourite vintage image work that I’ve done over the last couple of years or so. There’s something about these images which range from a Wedding in 1970’s Texas, to a very cool 1980’s dad and a family portrait where you can almost feel like you’re in an living room that sits somewhere between Abigail’s party and Mad Men.

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Perhaps it’s the domesticity combined with the element of the ‘special occasion’ of these images that draws me to them so much. I love that now we can take ten pictures next to a far flung waterfall on holiday and not think anything of it or document what’s happening every day if we want to, and find some beauty to that, but I think I’ll also always love the singularity of the vintage photograph. To bring me back to that feeling I have when I’m painting; of capturing a moment that’s special.

Shop my commissions HERE

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Silk and Sawdust

A few months ago I was commissioned to produce a set of illustrations for a gorgeous vintage inspired label called Silk and Sawdust. It's crazy it's taken me this long to post about it, as I'm really proud of it. I worked closely with the designer Claudia, to show her collection of beautiful dresses being worn on models whose aesthetics were inspired by the aesthetic of particular eras. Claudia's reference imagery was really beautiful, as were the clothes I was depicting so it was a super fun project to work on. Below are the final images that have been used on the website, lookbook and promotional postcards for the collection. They are done using pencil and watercolours. frontcover30's anyong_silk&sawdust back_cover bracelets_right final_leftgirl_flowersnewsixtys_lips Take a look at the website www.silkandsawdust.com to see them in action.website

Individualism Sins of Style: 27

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I was asked by the brilliant men's style collective Individualism to create some illustrations for their brilliantly funny series 'Sins of Style'. I was given copy by the very funny Reuben Christian, with some hilarious men's fashion faux pas to recreate. I really enjoyed working on something so light-hearted, and slotting into an existing feature within this online magazine.

The first one is up, it's 'Super Skinny Jeans', I really enjoyed doing it, I think it speaks for itself! have a look at it HERE.

There are more to come, so 'like' the individualism facebook page to stay up to date!

ALICENYONG.COM

My website has had a re-vamp! Illustration, print design and portraits are all up there, and I have a new email address. alie@alicenyong.com . Say hi!

Although I drew the pictures, I can't take the credit for the site, as the lovely Alis Pelleschi worked her web magic to make it look super special. Creatives; if you need a site makin' she's your gal.

Take a look!

http://alicenyong.com/

LFW

 Had a really fun time at LFW this season. Usually it's a bit tiring, but I could only go Monday and Tuesday; which turned out to be just enough and saw some really cool stuff. This is what I wore (above) I scowled a lot less than this most of the time.

Louise Grey was my favourite show I saw. These Tatty Devine Headpieces and her uh-mazing prints were brilliant. Can you spot Diane Pernet in the background? This show had a colourful front row.

Nasir Mazhar did a ghetto barber-shop presentation which I absolutely loved. Slurping champs whilst bobbing along to grime MC's shows just how innovative Mazhar is. He marries so many influences together with confidence, skill and humour. Loved it.

Leutton Postle are a really cool knitwear label (who've become so much more than that.) Really loved their collection, and it was in the Freemasons hall in the top space, which is such an amazing space. Freemasons have their imagery on point.

For all my show reviews go to www.thereal-runway.com

NKOYO interview with Amelia's Magazine

I had a chat with the ever wonderful cheerleader for cool new design Amelia Gregory recently for Amelia's Magazine. We talked about NKOYO, my design process and the world of scarves in general. She also asked me to do a fashion illustration to go alongside it, which was a real treat. It's inspired by one of her questions on how to wear the scarves, to which I said I loved the trend of turbans. The drawing came out really African inspired which I really like.

Have a look at the article HERE

Thanks Amelia xx

Lemony Fresh and Tropical Fish

Feeling Square eyed from a day of updating my NKOYO website with beautiful new images of two new scarves and existing designs and subsequently spamming every internet outlet at my disposal to tell everyone about it. Before I retreat from the computer screen I thought I'd share them on here too. I've made two new 'summer' designs, one's under the sea, and one's citrus fruit. The photographer is Alma Haser and the model is Sylvie Macmillan. They're both badass chicks.

www.nkoyo.co.uk

   

Photography:  Alma Haser

Art Direction: Alice Nyong

Model: Sylvie Macmillan

Writin'

As if I didn't have enough of an irritating web-presence, I've set up a new blog. Primarilly for my writing exploits, to archive pieces I've written over the last year and a half or so that I've liked, and for me to write stuff that's a bit too me-ish for The Real Runway (which I will still be scribblin' for.) Stories and opinions and so on. I'll be accompanying every post with a drawing, like this one- of me.

If you like hearing my opinions, follow it HERE

N K O Y O

Hey so you know how I said I was starting my own label. Called NKOYO? yeah well you can buy some of it now! I have a little bigcartel site up and running to sell my wears and have a gander at what I've been doing...

The collection is unisex, with long and square scarves, all made from designs hand-drawn by ME! Nkoyo is my middle name, a word in Ibibio language (Southern Nigeria if you don't know your West African regional dialects) meaning 'Beautiful One'. I'm in the process of making a more all-encompassing website...

But for now, do check it out, and buy one! I'm actually super proud of them.

Any questions about them holla at yo girl hello@nkoyo.co.uk  xxxx