Wearing a perfectly fitted, striped shirt and a turquoise elephant stone hanging around her neck, there was no doubt that it was Briana Kranz, the fashion illustrator that I had been waiting for. She flashed a smile as radiant as her outfit, I couldn’t have been more excited to begin the interview. Briana is originally from Southern California and moved to San Francisco immediately after high school to follow her dreams of becoming a fashion illustrator at the Academy of Art University.
Briana’s work is not like most of the fashion illustrators I have come across recently, minimal never seems to be in her vocabulary. Each piece done loosely with watercolor and then constrained with ink lines gives the perfect balance to her work. Briana’s watercolor technique differs from most others as each color is not faded out and light, but vibrant and perfectly patterned to match each fabric and texture.
After spending time with Briana it was easy to see where her quirky and adorable ideas for clothing come from. Her personality is reflected differently in each painting. From the perfect attention to detail, varied with the laid back mixing of watercolor. It is apparent that Briana is not drawing just because she has the ability but because of her love for fashion and the ability to create emotion and inspiration through her work.
Not only does Briana have an amazing knack for drawing and a personality that anyone would love, but also the clothing pieces she illustrates are ones that every on-trend girl would die to own. Maybe a designer collaboration is in her future? I know I’d buy the whole line.
Check out our previous article on Briana here.
D2G: Did you study fashion illustration in school? What made you want to become an artist?
Briana: I did. I was originally an illustration major at the Academy of Art University and I ended up taking all of the fashion illustration courses, including the croquis and rendering classes. It’s just something that I found to be really fun. It just stood out to me because the normal illustration department at the Academy is very, very traditional, and they want you to do landscape backgrounds and stuff like that. I found it a lot more free and fun.
D2G: Are there certain people that inspired you to be an illustrator?
Briana: Probably Carol Nunnelly, she taught fashion illustration at the Academy of Art University and I took all my classes with her. She is just really inspiring, she is one of the most creative people I know and also being an illustrator she is great.
D2G: Is there anyone who originally inspired you to be an artist out of high school?
Briana: I started off as graphic design and sort of stumbled into illustration. I have been drawing since I was little and took art classes whenever I could. I didn’t think it was an option as a career or freelancing, but I have made it work.
D2G: Because your work seems very dainty with a bit of an edge in some of the clothing you draw. Where do you get your ideas? Are there certain models you choose to draw?
Briana: I follow a lot of fashion blogs such as:
Pennyweight: I love her style, but I love her travels. So many unique images and color palettes, and really overall just a fun blog to follow.
Natalie Off Duty: Natalie’s blog I stumbled upon awhile ago – she has modeled a few times for Free People, Volcom, and quite a few other brands and great photographers. She constantly travels and I love her style – there is a huge vintage element to it, but she also loves a lot of modern pieces as well. Her sister also has a blog that’s great to follow as well (Color Me Nana).
Design Sponge: Being an illustrator I am constantly at home – Design Sponge gives me so many great ideas for my apartment. Not only do they have some awesome DIY projects, but they tour all sorts of great designer’s homes (from fashion designers to graphic designers).
D2G: It is interesting you choose not to use faces in you work. Can you tell us more about that?
Briana: You know, I think I just kinda went away from it for a while. I am actually working on a portrait series right now, but I don’t know, faces are fun but I try to focus more on the clothing, because that’s what it is about.
D2G: In your illustrations I noticed most of your work was done in Ink and Watercolor. Are there any specific techniques you use?
Briana: Something I really like about the watercolors is with my one little pallet I have any color I want, you can really make anything with it. And I feel like the ink really gives me the line quality I love, its something that I think about a lot. It is the final touch to my work, but I do use it a little throughout the process as well. I keep going over every line to make it thicker or thinner, it gives it a balance.
A lot of the layering or wet on wet techniques you can’t really do with acrylic or oil. I think that with colored pencils you can get a similar feel and you have a bit more control but watercolor also has those happy accidents, you might drop some color somewhere and it ends up working pretty well.
D2G: Or a reason you prefer these to other mediums?
Briana: I actually want to work with digital more, when I went to school I went through some digital painting classes and I’m trying to get back into it because everything is done online right now. Even if I do a new painting I have to take a picture or scan and email everything. So, with digital, its just already there and a lot easier, all you do is click the format and send it off. And even combining the two, paper and digital.
D2G: Are there any other mediums you wish you would work with more to create a different style?
Briana: I think as an illustrator you are constantly transforming because you get tired of doing the same thing all the time. Yeah, I think it will lead into something a bit different, but there will be that foundation of my usual watercolor style for sure.
D2G: Your work is generally a large mix of vibrant and pastel colors. Is this intentional or are you just drawn to using more than a simple color scheme?
Briana: I just am drawn to color, I love color. Its really hard for me to do limited pallets, I feel I get so bored with black and white.
D2G: Are most illustrators you enjoy using more color?
Briana: Yes! People like David Downton and Kenneth Paul Block, all of those artists are really so bold with their color I think that was a huge influence.
D2G: Do you believe that is more fashion? Or any form of illustration in general?
Briana: Fashion, for sure. When you take illustration classes they are like “pick 3 colors and work with those”, so you can go with the tones or darker values but they’re very specific. What I like about fashion is that, if you can make it work and it is appealing to the eye visually with the colors, patterns, and textures it will always work. With fashion there is a lot more freedom to really play with colors.
D2G: Being a fashion illustration teacher, do you believe you are not only teaching but are learning more from other people in the process?
Briana: Yeah, I am teaching a high school class right now for the art experience and you really need to learn how to break things down for people. Everyone thinks so differently. Some people are more visual and need to see it happen, others need to write it down and others need you at their side to guide them through so it is definitely a learning experience. Even in illustration you learn a different way to look at things. You see different shadows; you see hard and soft line and those things. It is difficult to learn how to portray that to people because once you know it, you know it your way.
D2G: Do you consider yourself a fashion illustrator specifically?
Briana: Yeah, I am leaning more in that direction. I mean… it’s hard. When I was in the illustration department they told me that it wasn’t a job and that no one does fashion illustration anymore. I was kicking and screaming to that department at the end and told them I wanted to do it. I didn’t have a traditional portfolio. It was difficult, but I think it really is a small little world and you need to communicate and get yourself out there.
D2G: Do you believe fashion and illustration go hand in hand? Or should they be kept separate forms of art?
Briana: Yes, I think they do. I think anatomy and all of that stuff is really important and it helps stylistically and technically. I love my degree; I just kept a very open mind with the departments. I love everything I learned at the Academy.
D2G: What other forms of art do you think should be in fashion more?
Briana: Photography will always have a place in fashion. I have been seeing a lot more sculptural jewelry, which I think is really awesome. I would love to see even more sculpture in different forms of fashion.
D2G: Do you believe even fashion boutiques should bring more art into their stores to promote small artists?
Briana: Yes, it is definitely huge in San Francisco. I just had a boutique gallery showing a couple weeks ago. They really like it because its something for them too, they get free art on their walls and a percentage of what is sold. It is very intimate and I’m not sure if I ever want to see that in bigger stores. It will keep going further and further.
D2G: If one designer called you today and asked you to do illustrations for their new Fall 2012 collections, is there someone you would hope the call was from?
Briana: I would actually really love to do stuff for Kate Spade. I think that color wise it would be so much fun. And I really love little beachy brands and Roxy would probably be a lot of fun. Their color pallets and they like to play with weird patterns and its more exciting. It is very lighthearted.
D2G: Did you have any favorite collections from this season?
Briana: Marchesa - breath-taking pieces. I loved the elegance to them, as well as the 1920′s & Greek/Roman feel feel in quite a few of the pieces. Really soft pastels, great movement to the dresses. A few of them had a great contrast between structure and draping.
Kate Spade - of course (haha) but there are multiple reasons for that. Not only has she been using a ton of prints by a textile designer, Florence Broadhurst (Who I absolutely adore – all of her work was done in the late 50′s, early 60′s), but she always has that vintage element to her work. I am a sucker for that vintage feel! Especially how evident the 60′s influence is in this line. Her line wasn’t as bright as summer usually is for her, but – I still love the loud textiles and mix-match of patterns and textures. While sometimes she is sort of cheesy and over the top, I really sort of love that about her.
D2G: What is one piece of advice you would give to an up and coming artist in the industry?
Briana: In any art industry you need to know how to really be driven and motivate yourself. I think that is the most difficult part. Everyone is usually inspired but if you don’t have the drive to get up every day and do what you love to do and promote yourself against the odds saying “I’m gonna do this, and I don’t really care at this point what you think”. And that is passion. I think inspiration and passion is easy to find, but motivation and drive take work, for sure. That will take you the furthest.
D2G: Is there anything you would hope to do in the future that you aren’t doing now?
Briana: I really, really would love to do some editorial work for fashion magazines like Vogue or Elle, something like that. That is like a dream of mine, for sure. Just having you word out there.
Im hoping to expand more towards New York or any gallery in New York would be amazing and awesome of course. So, I’m working my way, I have another show in October at RGB on Fillmore and Union St., in the Marina. I have had a show their once before. She really likes to rotate a lot of different artists through. We really hit it off and so she is helping me direct the next show and I got to help pick two different artists and we have a theme going on for the show called ‘Reflection’. Reflection looking upon your brain and also a visual reflection, so it is very open ended. It should be really fun; there is a wide range of work. One of my friends is a graffiti artist and will be at the show, I also have another friend who is more of an illustrator that will be showing some work.
About Chloe Norred
Fashion journalist and blogger, Chloe Norred, is a Southern California native who is now living in San Francisco to explore the creativity of the cities art and fashion. Currently attending the Academy of Art University, Chloe is pursuing a degree in fashion and journalism, where she is able to mix her fascination for art and design with her love for writing. Chloe also has a personal blog on the side, Neurotic Delirium, where she is able to share her inspirations and write about all that is going on in the fashion world.