Culture: Megan Hess – The art of following your calling
The world of Megan Hess is one of opulent glamour, a world in which Parisian chic meets old Hollywood charm. Opening the doors to the some of the world’s most celebrated fashion houses, from Chanel, Saint Laurent and Dior to Tiffany and Co., Hess' illustrations depict world’s so enticing, they appear better than the real deal. It is little wonder how Megan came to be one of the fashion world’s most celebrated illustrators. For an artist whose grand plan has always been ‘to do what I love’ and ‘the rest will follow’, Hess has certainly achieved that - and some.
Megan Hess was born with brush in one hand and pencil in the other. Well almost. “I honestly think drawing is the only thing I’ve ever really been good at! I can’t actually remember a time that I wasn’t drawing,” she explains. Every Saturday, as a young child, she attended art classes and it was her absolute favourite day of the week. It is here that Hess received the most valuable piece of advice.
At the end of one of the classes I spoke with my art teacher (Janet Thomas) about the possibility of being an artist when I grew up – I was unsure if it was something that you could actually make a living out of. She looked at me and said, “Do what you love and the money will follow”.
Whilst Hess held on to this advice for many years to follow, illustration wasn’t a planned career path. Feeling like she needed a ‘real job’ in the art world, Hess completed a Graphic Design Degree and began a successful career as an Art Director for several Ad Agencies. A move to London and a ‘million different creative jobs later’, Hess finally conceded to that inner burning desire to become an artist.
“At this time I became the Art Director for Liberty Department Store. Whist I loved art-directing fashion I loved illustrating it more. I started to do very small illustrations for Liberty. From this art directors saw my work and little commissions began to follow” .
Then came the life life-changing phone call in 2006. The voice on the other end of the line was Candace Bushnell’s publisher and the request was to illustrate a cover for her next novel ‘One Fifth Avenue’. The book went on to become a New York Times best seller and Megan was subsequently asked to illustrate covers for all of Bushnell’s previous works. This included THAT novel- yes… ‘Sex and the City’. What came next was a whirlwind entrance into the world of illustration – and a few dirty diapers along the way. (Well life can’t all be glamour’s now, can it!).
Once ‘Sex and the City’ was released I was contacted by TIME magazine in New York to create portraits for them. Following this, I began illustrating for Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue, Bergdorf Goodman, Laduree. Ironically, at the same time as my work finally took off I had my first baby!! Its funny, I always tell people that I haven’t really slept since 2006”.
For the striking beauty, whose presence oozes sophistication and elegance, fashion and illustration have been a natural fit. Hess’s collaborations have widened her appreciation for couture describing many of the very top designers as artists and the garment’s they create as ‘incredible pieces of art’. For this hardworking artist, the growth of the ‘Megan Hess’ brand has come about organically. Whilst she has made a mark on the fashion world, Hess also illustrates for her own collection of home wares, stationery and scarves. She has published a book of her work and most recently has launched a rug collection.
I’m very excited. As I’m quite obsessed with interiors, it’s been a dream of mine to create a beautiful rug collection. The collection is called ‘The Vintage Jewels’. It is inspired by classic images from a bygone era where women wore elaborate jewelled turbans and sipped champagne! When designing the collection, I imagined beautiful rooms filled with antiques jewels, velvet chase lounges, guilt mirrors and beautiful buttoned upholstery. The tones of gold, silver and peach felt very old school glamour and reminded me of the classic Parisian Atelier…
Having successfully transitioned and weaved her magic from the fashion world into the world of interior design, there is little doubt that this humble Melbourne based artist has turned her passion into a living. Her advice for others?
I think if its what you really want to do then do it and don’t let anything put you off course. The more you do something the better you’ll get. Students often ask me how to find their style and I always say that if you just keep drawing, your style will find you. And my ultimate advice is to enjoy the journey as much as the outcome
… and how could we forget that all too important piece of advice Hess received all those years ago…
“Do what you love and the money will follow”