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Friday, February 27, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Artist Bil Donovan!!!

BIL DONOVAN is an artist, educator and fashion illustrator whose work has appeared editorially in various publications as well as promotional and advertorial campaigns worldwide. Donovan's illustrations have appeared in national and international publications such as Vogue, Elle, Harpers Bazaar, L'Uomo Vogue, Marie Claire, Glamour, New York Magazine, Io Donna, Travel and Leisure, Mademoiselle, and IN-Style to name a few. Whom You Know thinks his work is simply fabulous!!!

Donovan's modern ideal of glamour and beauty has nurtured a working relationship with the Cosmetics, Beauty, and Fragrance industry. Bil has created Advertising and Promotion illustrations for Estee Lauder, Revlon, Max Factor, L'Oreal, and most recently Lancome.

Over the years he has created promotional and advertising art for Catalogues, Billboards, Window displays, National Ads and signage for major Department Stores such as: Saks Fifth Ave, Neiman Marcus, Nordstroms, Lord & Taylors, Dillard's and Macy's, Mercedes Benz, Rosewood Hotels, Amiga Milano 500, Escada, Ellen Tracy, Forever 21 and, Natori.

Bil has worked and lived in Milan and Paris, and currently resides in New York City, where He is an Assistant Adjuct Professor at FIT in the Illustration Department and a part-time Instructor at Parson's school of Design.

Donovan is the author of "Lifestyle Illustration, Advanced Fashion Drawing". A unique full color textbook that addresses the specific nature of Fashion/Lifestyle illustration, with exercises, demonstrations, and premises primarily for the artist pusing a career in the illustration field.

This textbook is culmination of years of study and personal experience as an Illustrator. It is based on a series of exercises that use thinking and selectivity as a backdrop to create illustrations for a Contemporary Fashion/Lifestyle market. Advanced Fashion Drawing will be published spring 2010, by Lawrence King Publishing UK for International distribution.

Bil also paints under the name of William Donovan and has participated in various group shows, panels, lectures, and workshops that highlight the content and scope of his personal art. This work is driven by personal experiences that incorporate the image, pose or gesture of the figure in combination with unorthodox materials such as rubber, poured enamel, reflective glass and flocking to name a few.
He recently had a solo show at the Walter Randel Gallery in Chelsea and participated in a group show at Schroeder Romero Gallery.

Peachy Deegan of Whom You Know has had her watercolor done by Bil Donovan at Dior and absolutely loves it! She recently reconnected with today's Mover and Shaker to introduce Whom You Know readers to the great talent!

Peachy Deegan: What have been some of your favorite projects to work on and why?
Bil Donovan: Without a doubt, “The Dress Doctor” “Prescriptions for Style from A to Z”. This book allowed me to entertain my desire to illustrate an era of fashion and glamour that I was acquainted with only through archives, movies and books. What fashion artist would not jump at the opportunity to do glamour portraits of Audrey, Grace and Marlene or Bette? I thoroughly researched Edith Head’s costumes, biographies, films and archives and completely indulged my fantasies of fashion and flair to encapsulate this period with a tongue in chic.

Ralph Rucci:

I am an admirer and huge fan of Ralph’s work, and I believe we share a philosophy of reinventing preconceived notions of making work. I was invited to Ralph’s show and requested to document events and experiences behind the scenes using observation with brush, ink and paper, rather than through the lens of a camera. In these circumstances, you are at once spectator and participant and the experience is invigorating.

You have to think ahead to chart the most efficient method of capturing a scene in constant motion. In other words, you have a very small window of opportunity to do a documentary drawing.

So the importance of line, shape and composition through the lens of observation is magnified. Adrenaline flows as easily as the ink and preconceived notions of drawing are indeed reinvented.

All of your knowledge and skill culminate in a short time span, with no guarantee of success, but when it works, the art enchants the eye, capturing the mood and essence of the moment in color shape and line and spirit. I gave Ralph my best drawing of the show and he eventually commissioned me to create figure drawings to incorporate into his Resort Collection, exquisitely of course. Who could ask for anything more?

Setarium Couture: During my seven year sojourn in Milan, I was commissioned by the then creative director of Italian Vogue to create illustrations for several catalogues and ads for a textile manufacture in Como. I was not enamored of the idea of doing textile illustrations until I arrived in Como to meet at the fabric mill to discuss the work. On the wall were previous lustrations done by Antonio, Tony Viramontes and other luminaries of fashion illustration.

Setarium produced the goods for Emanuel Ungaro, Yves St Laurent and other Houses of Couture. There was no direction except for two commands: Alto Moda and Dovete essere preciso !

The images had to be high fashion and precise in reflecting the patterns, fabrics and textiles…. and so they were and some of the best fashion illustrations in my early career.

What is the most unusual watercolor portrait you have done of someone/something?

One of the most unusual, and most rewarding requests I have ever done was for a family friend who was devastated by a late term miscarriage. I was asked if I would do a portrait of the baby from photos taken by the hospital, as a memento for the mother. It was one of the most difficult assignments I’ve ever taken on and my goal was to see and then recreate light and life from a photo reference that gave no hint of either. The end result was a portrait that communicated life, light and serenity, which in turn gave great comfort to the mother and allowed for an immediate healing process to begin.

On a lighter note, I recently had the pleasure of doing a portrait of New York’s Fashion Dandy, Patrick McDonald. Patrick, as usual wore a wonderful exaggerated top hat, cravat, and the requisite eyebrow. Something was missing from the mix. I respect Patrick’s commitment to visual presentation and would never infringe my fashion sensibility to compromise his personal canvas. So as I was nearing completion of the portrait, I had an idea. I proposed to Mr. McDonald, “Patrick Would you ever wear a large oversized red flower, ala Sara Jessica Parker’s character in Sex In The City, on your lapel? “. And the reply

“ Oh Yes I WOULD!” and so he did… at least in watercolor.

Whom You Know just loves Manhattan; what do you like more and less about it compared to Milan and Paris, where you also have lived?

New York’s energy is unique. Nowhere else have I experienced this pulsating rhythm and pace. The cross pollination of the city’s many cultures, companioned with the social, political and economical extremes in a concentrated area are responsible for that pulse. At times that pulse beats too quickly, which can foster a blind eye and a deaf ear to courtesy, etiquette and common sense.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Lincoln Center, and my studio, a creative Utopia in Tribeca.

What is your favorite shop?
Russo's Mozzarella and Pasta followed by Butter Lane Cupcakes followed by CVS to stock up on digestivo's to counter the former.

What is your favorite drink?
Vernaccio/ Vino Bianco at Bar Veloce.

What is your favorite restaurant?
Café Emila. Stefano and Marco Benatti hold court and conjure up fantastic traditional Italian cusine from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. A hidden treasure. Followed by Café Mogodar for French Moroccan Bohemian at it's best.

What is your favorite NYC book?

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
Late Night Dinner at Café Loup on Halloween, who needs a floor show.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated?
Underrated: "Downtown Theater
Overrated: "BROADWAY"

Bil's website is

Bil Donovan is represented by for editorial and advertising.

His studio is in Tribeca.

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