QCA graduate turned fashion artist for top luxury brands
Megan Hess got her big break illustrating the cover of bestselling book Sex and the City. On the verge of giving up her dreams of becoming a fashion illustrator, one project turned everything around.
Megan’s client list speaks volumes about her success on the world stage. Since illustrating the book that went on to become an iconic HBO series, Megan has jumped from one impressive project to the next. One of the aspects she loves most about her career is the uniqueness of each project – from creating a magical Fendi palace and reimagining Disney princesses to producing portraits of Michelle Obama.
While working with Louis Vuitton on a campaign depicting the spirit of travel, she realised the advantage of using illustrations over photography: there are no real budgets or constraints. If you can create a concept with your imagination, you can draw it. For such projects, she uses her pet pen named Monty – a custom Montblanc fountain pen.
So how did Megan reach such great heights?
The fashion illustrator has had a passion for drawing since childhood, but she didn’t know it was an actual career option back then. The first time Megan knew she was where she needed to be was at Griffith, among likeminded creatives. Even though she doesn’t work as a graphic designer, Megan’s degree opened the door and allowed her to dive into various creative jobs.
Although she has always believed in her drawing ability, Megan’s was a path of self-discovery. It wasn’t until she worked as an art director and commissioned work from illustrators that she realised she wanted to become an illustrator herself. Thankfully, her employer at the time was supportive and allowed her to take on projects to explore that avenue.
Megan started making a living from her work shortly thereafter. She had enough clients and projects to illustrate every day, but she learnt there was no fast track to working on her dream jobs. Many projects weren’t overly creative and didn’t inspire her, and a few she even considered soul-destroying.
Just as she was about to give up, a commission came through from Candace Bushnell’s publisher. The job? To illustrate the cover of Sex and the City. One phone call was all it took to change Megan’s life.
Today, she only takes on about 5–10 per cent of the projects that come her way. She’s at a point where she can choose the projects that truly inspire her – the ones that offer the best creative results, rather than those that pay the most. In doing so, she’s discovered that passion leads to great outcomes.
Megan’s current projects are not only varied, but also span the globe. She has created an image at the bottom of a pool using thousands of mosaic tiles in the Middle East, decorated the windows of Bergdorf Goodman in New York and illustrated live at Couture Week for Dior. Throughout her travels, Megan has met Australians everywhere “doing mind-blowing, incredible things”, which makes her feel proud.
Having achieved her career dream of combining fashion and illustration, Megan hopes to continue on this creative path. She’s working on her fifth book and wants to attract new clients she admires – Tom Ford is currently at the top of her list. She also balances the big jobs involving luxury brands with personal projects, which often take the form of print collections.
What is Megan’s advice to young artists? Be open to criticism, be able to work with others and listen to other people’s ideas. Above all, she urges you to find what you are passionate about, really focus on it and never give up.
As Megan puts it: “Success is a symptom of hard work.”