Renowned for their artwork depicting the glitz and glamour of the fashion industry, Megan and Kerrie Hess’ watercolour illustrations are filled with macarons, an abundance of Tiffany & Co and the kind of couture gowns all women lust after.
However, this beautiful world wasn’t handed to them on a silver platter. Growing up, neither of them realised that fashion illustrator was an actual job; they just knew they felt most at home with a pen in hand.
They decided to get “proper” jobs as graphic designers and continue their passion for painting on the side. It wasn’t until (aged 18 and 19) they moved to London and realised their burning desire to become artists.
Art director for Liberty Department Store at the time, Megan began doing small illustrations for Liberty and commissions soon followed.
“I wasn’t earning a fortune but I’d never been happier. I knew I was going to do this forever,” Megan says.
Kerrie, on the other hand, started drawing on the side – in the beginning, all she wanted was to be able to pay rent from her paintings and drawings.
However, with a desire to be successful and sheer talent on their side, it was clear the Hess sisters weren’t destined for desk jobs. And a conversation back in 2006 saw Megan get her big break.
“I got a call in the middle of the night from Candace Bushnell’s publisher asking if I would illustrate her novel One Fifth Avenue.”
She was then commissioned for the Sex and The City book cover and contacted to do portraits for Tiffany & Co, Chanel, Dior, Cartier, Vanity Fair, Italian Vogue and Bergdorf Goodman.
At the same time, Kerrie’s career was also skyrocketing.
“I certainly never saw a future of billboards in Paris, painting window for Harrods in London or my own range of shoes limited edition print,” Kerrie says.
Growing up on Hitchcock and Fred Astaire movies, Kerrie says the likes of Grace Kelly and Alfred Hitchcock are influential characters in her drawings. And it seems their influence has paid off, with Kerrie showcasing a solo exhibition at the Le Meurice Hotel in Paris recently.
“It was a 17-piece show held in a salon where both Picasso and Dali have previously exhibited, so I was incredibly honoured, and nervous to exhibit in this space!” she says.
Describing her style as intuitive watercolour, Kerrie admits her style has moved on from calligraphy pens to paints and brushes.
“I am so much happier in a mess of brushes and paints. I also like to leave out a few details so you can fill them in with your eyes,” Kerrie says.
On the other hand, Megan prefers to draw all her line work with a custom Montblanc pen and ink, with each illustration taking her anywhere from an hour to several days!
Megan loves that her work can have such a strong impact for those in the creative industry.
“It’s great to have reached a point where I can be involved with organisations such as OCRF and use my illustrations to help with the fight against ovarian cancer,” Megan says.
Despite their success, both illustrators say they will always be mums first and foremost and, unlike their paintings, things aren’t always as glamorous.
For Megan, motherhood involves skyping her clients before her children wake, juggling making school lunches and helping with after-school homework in-between her busy deadlines.
While Kerrie admits she sometimes lets her social life and time to herself slip, she says her primary focus is her son.
“The key for me is that when I’m working I’m focused on that, and when I’m with my son I don’t check my emails or social media. I don’t want to dilute that time in any way,” she says.
Megan agrees with Kerrie but adds she maintains a healthy work and family life with the loving support from her husband.
“We made a pact not to give up on the things we loved because we were having kids, and we really stuck to it. I think all parents need time out and it’s amazing what a little time to yourself can do for your wellbeing,” she says.
When asked what she loves most about illustrating, Megan doesn’t hesitate: “I get to create an imaginary world and there are no limits to what you can draw.”
Get to know Megan
Love to collaborate with?
Ultimate style icon?
Laura Bailey. Her style is perfection to me!
Artist you’re playing?
Get to know Kerrie
Your favourite colour?
Watermelon pink and aqua blue. The latter reminds me of Tiffany & Co. and watermelon pink is such a sunny positive hue but not quite as girly as a sweeter pink.
Ultimate style icon?
Grace Kelly and Audrey Hepburn.
Current song playing?
Gold by Kiiara and Rufus.