This week's nails of New York features fashion illustrator, Blair Brietenstein. Blair left her advertising job in March in pursuit of promising opportunities in New York City. She has made somewhat of a tidal wave within the illustrator world. What started as an Instagram account documenting her daily drawings of big lips, big hair, big lashes, and Briggite Bardot, Blair has become one of the most recognizable and newest go-to illustrators for many top fashion brands like Saks, Rebecca Minkoff, Carolina Herrera, Woolrich, and Prada.
Through watching her illustrating process, we were enthralled by the fluidity, speed, and seemingly limitless muses she has imagined in her head. Inspired by fashion, art, energy, and people, Blair is insistent on having her art be a constantly evolving process and has utilized unexpected opportunities like digital mediums, window displays, and scrapbooking collages to emphasize this craft. Read more to learn about her recent collaborations and why it is so important to her that she has her nails perfectly polished.
Can you tell us a little about your job?
I am a fashion illustrator. I draw a lot of independent work, as well as freelance for fashion brands. The projects range from social media content, magazine content, window displays, or shopping bag designs. I've done a few live sketching events for Rebecca Minkoff, Carolina Herrera, and Woolrich in Soho. And a recent treat was doing the window instillations at Sant Ambroeus in Nolita.
What is a typical day for you?
Every day is pretty dynamic, but at this point my home is also my studio, so I'll have lots of coffee and set up there for the day. I love to get lost scouring the Internet to inspire new series. This week I was incredibly inspired by Alexander McQueen's show in 2007, which featured these fantastic moons.
Blair adds pops of red color to give dimension to lips in her illustrations.
Why do you paint your nails?
Nail polish rounds out an appearance. I gravitate towards darker colors like mocha, red, oxblood, or almost black. There are a lot of eyes on me when I draw live at events or shows and having my nails painted makes me feel much more focused and confident. Having designs on my nails can also be a fun topic of conversation between me and the person I am drawing, allowing me to feel much more relaxed and slightly distracted (a good thing!) from the actual art of drawing. Plus, having gel allows me to not have to worry about my nails getting messed up when I'm using acrylic paints, markers, and oil pastels.
Tell us one of your favorite parts of your job?
A neat part of my job is the ability and flexibility to travel. Many brands hire me to come to cities other than New York. I recently went to Toronto to draw at a Coach event. There was great music and fabulous guests at the event. And the next day I got to explore a city I had always wanted to visit. Plus, who doesn't love getting put up in a fancy hotel and pampered?
What inspires you?
Right now, I am very inspired by the upcoming winter season. In winter, I love to draw fur and texture. During a recent Carolina Herrera event, a client came in wearing fur, fishnet tights, and these incredible black polka dot gloves. She epitomized my favorite type of woman to draw, and it was such a delight getting to draw her. I was blown away by her kindness when she gave me her gloves as a thank you. It's moments like that where you realize how unique and fortunate you are to be doing something you are so passionate about.
Right: The black polka dot gloves that were a recent gift from a client.