interview by yasmin coke
London Fashion Week The Daily proudly presents a back-of-the-Mercedes interview with our artist in residence, Tanya Ling.
YC: Let’s start from the beginning, how did you start illustrating?
TL: I studied fashion design at Central Saint Martins and I was a fashion designer for a while in Paris. While I was studying I had great mentors that taught me that if you can draw, you can quickly communicate the ideas that are in your head and heart. My husband presented some of my work at Gavin Turk’s empty studio in Charing Cross Road years ago, following that, British Vogue asked if I would consider a fashion commission for them and it’s continued from there. I’ve been illustrating a lot, I didn’t plan it but it has been fabulous. I married young and had children young and it was a great thing to do while raising a family, I’ve built a studio in my garden that I’ve been working in for years. I want to continue making paintings, I see it as a personal expression that comes naturally to me.
YC: What is the creative process behind your work?
TL: I have nothing planned, it just happens; it’s nothing conceptual, just intuition. I pick a character and I observe that character or feeling. The look and the expressions come from the collection and the mood from the colours. I’m quite reckless and a risk taker when it comes to my paintings.
YC: Do you always work with a reference when illustrating?
TL: Sometimes it works best when it’s just a blank canvas and me. I call them ‘idea drawings’ and that is my ideal situation. I can’t plan my illustrations in my head, it’s like cooking, I love to cook but I don’t follow recipes, I just make things up.
YC: What are your essential tools?
TL: I can use anything to illustrate with, I’m not very precious with what I use. Today I’ve been using acrylic paints, pastels, oils and inks. I’m very brutal and quite violent with my tools, and very messy! But I could work with anything.
YC: What do you love about illustrating at shows in London?
TL: In London there is lots of risk taking and there is a great sense of humour, it’s very creative.
YC: Do you have any favourite designers that you like to illustrate?
TL: I’m very traditional and I love Paris and the original fashion houses such as YSL and Chanel.
YC: If you’re not illustrating fashion, what do you like to draw?
TL: I like characters, people, expressions, moods, feelings, poetry – to paint things that look pensive and thoughtful. I have been painting portraits a lot more but I do love the genre of fashion, it’s fun and joyful.
YC: And last but not least, what’s the cheekiest thing you’ve ever done in the back of a car?
TL: The list is endless, I have a Mercedes and I’m very cheeky so I’m always doing cheeky things!
Mercedes-Benz, whose fashionable fleet of cars ensure London Fashion Weekers get around in style, celebrates its London Fashion Week affiliation with Voices of Fashion, a daily blog filled with exclusive LFW updates and interviews with designers and other movers and shakers of the fashion world. See voicesoffashion.co.uk