DATE: OCT 2019
CATEGORY: CREATOR DIARIES
HOTSOX partnered with legendary illustrator, Richard Haines, to create a capsule collection featuring his iconic designs. We sat down with Haines to get a glimpse into his creative world.
Richard Haines self portrait.
HOW DID YOU MAKE THE SHIFT FROM ILLUSTRATOR, TO FASHION DESIGNER, AND THEN BACK TO ILLUSTRATOR?
I moved to NYC in the 70s thinking I would be a hot shot illustrator. I never formally studied fashion illustration, and I quickly realized I didn’t have the training and confidence of a professional. My love of fashion led me to design, where I was fortunate enough to work with incredible people like Perry Ellis, Bill Blass and Calvin Klein. It wasn’t until the economic meltdown of 2008 that I was unemployed and aged out of the design field that I discovered my first love - fashion illustration. I started a blog called ‘What I Saw Today’ and that was an incredible platform that allowed me to showcase my work and develop my career as an illustrator.
Vogue Paris 70s
WHY DO YOU THINK THE FASHION WORLD PREFERRED ILLUSTRATION OVER PHOTOGRAPHY FOR SO LONG?
When I was a kid every big department store advertised in newspapers, and each store had a signature style that was illustration. Not only was it a kind of branding, but illustration was easier to reproduce. It wasn’t until the 70s that stores like Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor switched from illustration to photos, and that pretty much killed off illustration. It was almost extinct by the late 70s.
HOW DOES CONTEMPORARY FASHION EMBRACE THE ART OF ILLUSTRATION TODAY?
As there are more brands, and each brand is trying to stand out, illustration has become relevant again. Instagram has played a huge part - there is more of everything, photo and illustration!
A LOT OF YOUR WORK DEALS IN PORTRAITURE — WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO CAPTURE?
I look for the essence of a person. People are complex, fascinating beings. I’m looking to find that and get it on paper.
WHAT ABOUT ILLUSTRATION IS SO ALLURING TO PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY TO DESIGNERS IN THE FASHION COMMUNITY?
I believe illustration presents another point of view to the designer. Illustration can exaggerate in ways that photography can’t — the sleeve can become enormous, the skirt sweeps off the page. It becomes a kind of drama that captures what the designer was thinking.
WHICH ARTISTS ARE YOU INSPIRED BY?
So many! Off the top of my head, the illustrators from the 30s and 40s: Bemelman, Christian Bérard, Beaton, Eric, all incredible artists. And I love the illustrator Antonio Lopez. He made illustration relevant again in the 60s. Painters like Hockney, Matisse, and Toulouse Lautrec are always inspiring and so many more.
Richard Haines' Studio.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE ALBUM COVER?
The Andy Warhol designed cover for the Rolling Stones album Sticky Fingers. The jeans with the working zipper, now that’s iconic!
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE PEOPLE WHO ARE INCLUDED ON THE SOCKS FROM YOUR COLLECTION? DO THEY REPRESENT ANYONE IN PARTICULAR?
The group scenes are inspired by people hanging out here in Bushwick, and I love the image of the guy putting on the sock. The person is no one in particular, but I think putting an image of a guy getting dressed on a sock is kind of meta! There is a fashion drawing from the 60s in repeat that I love. It’s super exciting to see my work translate from paper to knits, and I’m so impressed with the great job HOTSOX did with the execution.
NEW YORKERS WALK EVERYWHERE — HOW DO SOCKS FACTOR INTO WHAT YOU WEAR WHEN YOU STEP OUT?
I walk for miles every day in New York. It’s wonderful exercise, but more importantly it feeds my heart and soul and eyes. When I walk I observe, and when I observe I want to draw. If I don’t have the right socks, if I don’t feel great and comfortable, then I’m distracted from the beauty of New York City!