An Interview with Fashion Illustrator Megan St Clair MorganAll photographs courtesy of Megan St Clair Morgan Design Features
Fresh from her days at the London College of Fashion, 19-year-old Leeds-native Megan St Clair Morgan is anything but your normal recent graduate. For the past three years, she’s been sketching live from the runways in London, Paris, Berlin and beyond, and, unlike many women her age, she’s already set on a career path that’s as deeply personal and creative as it is entrepreneurial; one that’s filled with names like Chloé, Hermès and Swarovski.
Megan is a fashion illustrator. You might recognize her name from our recent list 12 Fashion Illustrators Worth Following. And because we were so impressed by her cool watercolors and fun fluid lines, we jumped at the opportunity to chat with her—and we’re so glad we had the chance. Days before our conversation, she had handed in her final paper as a student at LCF and was already preparing for her first jaunt on the Men’s Fashion Week circuit as a full-time freelance illustrator; and here’s what we talked about.
Paste: Congratulations on recently completing your studies at London College of Fashion. How does it feel to be free from school?
Megan St Clair Morgan: It was pretty crazy the first few days—it was odd, but oddly the same! I think it’s become so normal for me to be busy, but I’ve been in meetings/on jobs since my hand-in [of my final project] so it’s been pretty incredible to just have that finished!
Paste: What are you planning on doing next?
Megan St Clair Morgan: Well, on the day I finished at LCF, I decided to fully launch myself as full-time freelance fashion illustrator—quite a big step!
Paste:That is a big step! At only 19, you’ve had the chance to work with several recognizable publications and brands, from Because and Hunger to Swarovski and Paul Smith. Why do you think people are so attracted to your work and really illustration in general?
Megan St Clair Morgan: In all honesty, I think I’ve been rather lucky that the places and situations I’ve put myself into have been around the right people; but there has also been a revival (and love) in the craft. I had a lecture with Tony Glenville in the first term of my degree, and it was all about the craft and how it will never disappear because illustration/drawing has an element of “I wish I could draw” to it. It’s a skill, a craft and something digital technology will never be able to replace—and the hard work that goes into it is so evident!
Paste: And how would you describe your work?
Megan St Clair Morgan: Instant, responsive, fluid and a little bit of a risk. I really never know what will come from a drawing!
Paste: When did you first know you wanted to become an illustrator?
Megan St Clair Morgan: When my art teacher introduced me to David Downton’s work in high school. I must have been about 13 or 14 years old, and I fell in love with the spirit of his work. It’s seen as a funny thing now (as we know each other) and quite surreal really.
Paste: What has been the highlight of your career since then?
Megan St Clair Morgan: There have been so many incredible/surreal things to happen, but being optioned for work with huge brands like Chloé and Hermès to being featured by Paul Smith and working on store launches with Swarovski are definitely a few of them! A recent favorite was a Snapchat-exclusive interview I did with Sweet—that was super cool!
Paste: Do you have any artistic heroes who have inspired you?
Megan St Clair Morgan: David Downton (as I mentioned before) and Richard Haines are the main two.
Paste: What in particular about their work attracts you most?
Megan St Clair Morgan: Mainly the movement—and how they use fashion illustration within unexpected and old school ways.
Paste: In addition to working on commissions from various brands, you also live-sketch from the runway in Paris, London and beyond. How did you get into that?
Megan St Clair Morgan: I was given a ticket to a show at Fashion Scout during London Fashion Week by my course leader who also does live runway illustration, and I ended up covering the whole season. And it just snowballed from there!
Paste: What do you love most about sketching live?
Megan St Clair Morgan: The spontaneity! I never know what is going to come out, so I never know what I will be creating next.
Paste: Do you know who you will be sketching for this upcoming season?
Megan St Clair Morgan: I’m covering London Collections: Men for Because and taking over their Instagram. So far I’ve yet to receive all my tickets, but I’m expecting to several (Cottweiler, Private White V.C., etc). London is great for menswear, so make sure you’re following @BecauseLondon on Instagram!
Paste: Is there a particular designer you are looking forward to illustrating?
Megan St Clair Morgan: I’d love to cover Craig Green, but I haven’t received a ticket yet – he’s in such high demand these days. But every season, covering the likes of Belstaff, Casely-Hayford and Oliver Spencer is always great.
Paste: What attracts you in a garment? What are the first details you look at?
Megan St Clair Morgan: I like layering, so Fall/Winter is always my favorite season. Also, I think silhouette, color and styling details (because those can really change a look).
Paste: How long does it usually take you to sketch a look on the runway?
Megan St Clair Morgan: I’d say about 8-10 seconds.
Paste: Wow, that’s fast! What do you do when you’re not sketching? How do you unwind?
Megan St Clair Morgan: Funnily enough, I draw a lot in my free time, but I’ve recently picked up running so that helps with the winding down part!
Paste: What would you say is the illustrator’s overall role in the fashion industry?
Megan St Clair Morgan: It really depends on what part of fashion industry an illustrator works in, as well as the style of illustration. Since I’m more in the advertising/online content creation/editorial side of things, I see myself as a visual reporter.
Paste: How would you describe the “typical day of an illustrator”? I’m sure no day is the same, right?
Megan St Clair Morgan: You got it! No day is the same because it depends on what I’ve got going on. Really, it’s a lot of administrative work (emailing, social media, editing work) and only about a quarter of the day is actually spent drawing. I do a lot of mood boarding and research for jobs, so of course I fell in love with Pinterest not too long ago!
Paste: And finally, for those who are perhaps interested in pursuing illustration, what are a few tips you can give them?
Megan St Clair Morgan: Hmm…. First, draw all the time (remember, it’s a skill that needs practice). Secondly, get yourself out there, because there are so many great platforms out there now. Finally, and most importantly, don’t be scared to ask questions! Most people (even the more established ones) will respond to questions and give advice on pursuing illustration; it’s really a big community after all.