I first met Fashion Illustrator Joey Cruz in 2009. We sat next to each other in our first draping class as fashion design students at The Fashion Institute of Technology! From that moment on it was friendship magic! As the years went on our friendship stayed the same even with a several year gap of not seeing one another when Joey moved to Paris, France to continue her studies in 2013. This past October we had the chance to reunite in the city of lights after six years and the banter was as sassy and sentimental as ever! Sassy, witty and sentimental banter is the bedrock of our friendship and its nice to know that even after many years and lots of life changing moments and experiences, some things can still stay the same!
I had the great pleasure of interviewing my dearly talented friend Joey, the creator of Couture Sketch! Not only can she sketch something feirce but her fashion design skills are paramount! The interview below tells her story of what makes her blood pump and her desire of working in the fashion industry as a fashion illustrator so interesting!
DS: Where are you from?
JC: Deer Park, NY, which is on Long Island.
DS: Where do you live?
JC: Paris, France
DS: How old are you?
JC: I’m 27!
DS: When is your birthday?
JC: 12 May 1989
DS: How old were you when your love for fashion came a long?
JC: I was five!!!
DS: Where did you go to college?
JC: Fashion Institute of Technology, NYC, USA and Paris College of Art, Paris, France
DS: Where did you study fashion design?
JC: I started at FIT to get my AAS degree then moved to Paris to get my Certificate in Fashion Design from the Paris College of Art.
DS: When was it you knew you wanted to be a designer/fashion illustrator?
JC: I knew I wanted to work in fashion as early as five years old. I always drew the cloths I saw in the magazines, newspapers, and on TV. I loved drawing the clothes! When I saw old moves I would just die over the fabulous clothes that were in each scene. The more opulent they were the better and the more outlandish made them perfect, to me. It brought me to a magical world and out of my reality. I was so happy creating that my parents would have no problem buying me movies and art supplies to cultivate my creativity. I didn’t know I preferred fashion illustration to design till I was a bit older and in high school. I started Saturday Live classes (high school level) at FIT and knew then that having a career in the fashion industry was my calling. I have recently discovered that I would like to be a costume designer as well.
DS: Who do you look to for professional inspiration?
JC: I love this question!! When I look for personal inspiration the people I automatically go to are Cruella de Vil, Daphnia Guinness, and Diane Keaton. I look to Star Trek as well because I love that show and it influences my life because I am such a big Fan of it. I also look at a lot of fantasy themed things that are very dark and Gothic. The list can go on and on…
DS: What is your favorite genre of art?
JC: I love Fantasy art. Witches, wizards, dragons and mythical creatures. I just love all that mystery about it! I love magic, too. To think of that other world with all those fabulous creatures and people who live in a more complex world; the art that goes along with it gives me an adrenaline rush.
DS: How can you differentiate yourself from other fashion illustrators?
JC: I have a more vintage look to my artwork in the way I draw the figures or Croquis as we call them. I have a very high fashion couture level look to my art. I like to consider my self as an aspiring fashion illustration master. I have studied sketches form the begin of fashion art all the way to current works to cultivate my skills. I am always looking at books, new and old. In my opinion, the older the book on fashion or fashion art the better. Not just only illustration books but pattern making and sewing books to understand better how the garment is constructed. This helps me draw the clothes better and in more detail. I was lucky I had access to the library at FIT, which is the best place for fashion research in the world. I can tell you first hand that I spent a lot of time there going though books. Looking up articles and finding other illustrators form past and present. I believe with all of my constant research it has helped me stand out and bring my level of drawing to where I want it to be. I still study other illustrator’s artwork and fashion sketches from all over the world to learn more and more.
DS: What was it like growing up as a child in NY?
JC: Oh! Amazing, because it is the craziest place in the world. It is full of almost everything you can ever imagine. I mean it was so easy to find activities to do and to explore all alone and discover different cultures. As an Italian American kid growing up in New York with family right out of Sicily, Italy it was one world and when I stepped out of my door it was a different one. It was extremely close to the way you see it in the movies, especially the famed Hollywood film, “Moon Struck” starring the one and only, Cher. All of the love and all of the crazy! I can tell you that New Yorkers have a certain mentality and attitude that no one else living outside of the city will ever fully own or maybe even understand. I love that I am form NY because it helped shape me as a person. Its one amazing place full of excitement and every fucking thing else you can think of. I was a crazy kid so I had my own way of thinking and living in NY and for me it was the best place for me to discover who I was and am as a person.
DS: How do you feel about today’s fashion industry vs. what was past?
JC: For the Love of Fashion, I think that today’s fashion industry has lost a lot of its magic. It all about mass production and everyone copies each other more than ever. I feel that there is a lack of creativity and focus on quality with many brands. Nothing really last now a days unless you want to pay your entire life’s savings on a jacket, and even then…that is up for argument. IN the past is was easier to differentiate a designer by their atheistic and now, all we see are the same silhouettes over and over again just done in different fabrications. If I hear one more time someone describe a collection as, “It’s a combination between the masculine and the feminine” I’m going to scream. Along with the potato sac looking clothes. Like really!!?! So I think once the 80’s were over it kind of went down hill.
DS: Best present you ever received (doesn’t matter for what)?
JC: This is actually a very hard question. I have gotten some amazing presents over the years. I got a 1.5 Karat diamond ring from my parents for my 13th Birthday.
DS: Favorite professors / memories while in school?
JC: Rosalba Emmanuel King, Rosario and Rose Rizzo, James Dougherty, Steven Stipelman, Ruth Nier, George Simington, Renaldo Barnette, Ian Paterson, Chloe Briggs, Rosemary Rodriguez, Emyric François. When I first walked into FIT back in High school I remember watching all the fashion art teachers draw. I was in heaven and I was never so happy. I was also in the last class Rosario Rizzo taught and having him was just amazing. We became fast friends. He always pushed me to be better and was so happy with me for so many reasons. We kept in touch up until his passing. I also had kept in touch with Rose Rizzo until I moved to France. In addition, I loved watching James Dougherty draw and teach me some of his past methods that he is known for. He was so interesting and the old Hollywood gossip he shared was fantastic.
DS: Favorite designers?
JC: Christian Dior, Bob Mackie, Thierry Muglier, Stephan Rolland, Elie Sabb, Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren, Emyric François.
DS: Favorite place to shop?
JC: Zara and H&M
DS: Favorite candy?
JC: I hate candy!!
DS: Favorite Movie?
JC: Hocus Pocus!
DS: Favorite Song?
JC: Wind Beneath My Wings by Bette Midler
DS: Favorite Musician/singer/band?
JC: Barbra Streisand
DS: Favorite food?
JC: Pasta with a cream sauce or pesto.
DS: Favorite art medium you like using?
JC: Markers and Colored Pencils. They have to be certain brands for each. PrismaColor is my first choice for the colored pencils. They are just the best. I can get them here in Paris but there is only one store that sells them. The store is called Sennelier and it’s the oldest art store in the world and some of the greats have shopped there. If I ever have to get a backup it would have to be Faber Castel poly chromos pencils. They were introduced to me this year by my friend Jules. As for the Markers, I just love Chart Pak AD markers. But, I cannot get them here. My Parents have shipped most of my stuff to Paris and those were one of the things that had to come. I have had to start using other brands here in Paris and I have had to get used to using Letraset Pro Markers. Thank g-d I can get Tombow brush markers here. They are a comforting to have. I do try other brands just to see if I will like them but I am so particular with what I want to happen with the medium so I end up having other brands and not using them much. So, I use Tombow for backgrounds or other types of illustration. I also use Gouache and water colors. If I do over sized work I use watercolors just Rosalba Emmanuel King taught me to use.
DS: If you could work in any other profession, what would it be and why?
JC: Oh that’s easy!! I would be a chef. Cooking is one of my favorite hobbies and I love doing it. To have new flavors and techniques being invented all the time and then creating and recreating some of the best recipes is heaven to me. It is also one of the best ways to discover other cultures. Everything is based on food at the end of the day.
DS: What would you describe your personal style as?
JC: From what people tell me it’s very classy and chic. I love anything long a flowy with lots of billowing fabric. I am a bit gothic too. I wear a lot of black and have a few select pieces with color. It’s extremely unique and different.
DS: What is your favorite era(s) in fashion?
JC: The 1950’s!!! I love the tiny cinched waists and how full of class and modern chicness it was. It’s when Dior came on the scene and set the standard for class post WWII. The 1980’s were extremely high glamour and I love that era in fashion for that. For example, the television show Dynasty says everything about the 80’s. It was just pure glamour at it’s last decade. And it was full of some beautiful fashions!!
DS: What inspires you in your daily life?
JC: What inspires me for each day is getting one day closer to achieving my goals. I have set some pretty high goals and they are getting higher and higher each time a new one comes along for me to set. I also draw everyday because I know that if I keep drawing I will get better at a skill that will allow me to be something and leave my mark on the fashion world. Now that I live in France, learning more and more French each day keeps me going. I just love the language and getting it right. Knowing that one day I will be fluent is a goal. Learning new things in the subjects that I love keep me going.
DS: In your own personal opinion; French vs. American fashion?
JC: I personally prefer French Fashion. Living here you can where more chic clothes. And, if you do where something a bit more outlandish or over the top.; lets just say the more creative you are the better. American fashion is just so commercial with no real passion behind it.
DS: Favorite part about being an American in Paris?
JC: The magical world of Paris is always making me happier and happier. There is this magic for me here that I cannot explain. The world of Paris is totally different and being able two speak both languages makes me so excited.
DS: Favorite thing about Paris?
JC: I can’t just pick one thing. If it was just one thing that would be terrible and boring. It’s everything about Paris that is my Favorite thing. I feel so inspired here and like I said before the Magic of this world makes things so fantastic.
First and last fashion illustrations are street style sketches of yours truly done by Joey!
You can contact her for personal and corporate illustration work of all kinds HERE!
xoxo Dara Senders – The Style Senders