We were appointed by D2 magazine to do the illustrations for a cover story on perfume.
On our first meeting I presented these sketches – pastels on coloured paper. Although well received, there were expressed concerns about the “crudeness” of the sketches – admittedly, there was a certain “art-schoolish” flair to them (which I thought were rather funny, at the time). Moreover, the editors wanted to show perfumes through the decades – as well as celebrity endorsement – thus establishing a need for a historical take on the subject.
This was the last shot at a typical still life rendering with pastels on coloured paper.
With the new brief in mind, I searched vintage perfume ads for inspiration – particularly the eminent work of still-so-fresh fashion illustrator Rene Gruau (1909-2004).
After some tinkering, it became obvious that pastels on coloured paper were not going to give the contemporary shtick we were looking for. There was clearly a need for an edge, which (quite literally) led to the addition of paper cutting. Confident that the combination of scissor sharp shapes and natural textures would do the trick, I proceeded to make some more elaborate sketches.
First coloured cut-outs: A bottle of L’Eau d’Issey by Issey Miyake and a pretty Mitsouko-inspired face. Further down some tests with watercolour-blotches.
Sketches for the perfumes of the 80′s, drawing inspiration from the cut-out style of Grace Jones’ album art and quintessential 80′s artist Patrick Nagel.
As things go, the brief eventually changed – uncomfortable with the retrospective angle, the journalists dropped the initial idea, turning to the “here and now” of perfumery instead. This was a brilliant move – definitely all for the better – but it meant that I had to do some serious rethinking and also had to scrap most of what I had done so far. The illustrations would now focus solely on the experience of smelling and applying perfume, which opted for a much more contemplative, uncluttered design.
Below are the last sketches, many of which can be seen in the final editorial. It was particularly interesting to depict men smelling perfume, without being overly effeminate. Furthermore, all the perfume bottles from the different perfume houses had to move away from the front seat in order to give the single page illustrations enough breathing space. To see them up close: Click here.
2009-12-21 :: bjorn