Meet the Fashion Illustrator Isabella Hemmersbach

By Tuesday, August 25, 2015 0 No tags Permalink 0

Isabella Hemmersbach by Kemara Pol

Some say ‘you’re just born with it.’ In Isabella Hemmersbach’s case, I guess we can believe that. Ever since she can remember, she loved to draw and to create things. It gets her a certain satisfaction of bringing things to fruition. Completion. Fulfilling a need and purpose. I met Isabella a couple of years ago in Copenhagen and since then we kept in touch. I knew from the time that I met her and she told me that she’s an artist that she’d have a spacial craft. Today I’m happy to share her gift of creating with you guys and introduce you to her!

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself? Where do you come from and what do you like to do?

I’m a German artist and fashion Illustrator based in Copenhagen. Originally from Flensburg (north of Hamburg, but not yet Denmark), I now live in the North West district of Copenhagen. It’s the area where the rent is are still relatively cheap and no lonely planet guide has ruined your favourite café yet 😉

I work at my shared atelier space, UnderBroen10, which is basically just down the road from my apartment. There I illustrate for magazines, fashion brands, my shop, bespoke projects and art exhibitions.

I actually also help creative people to do proper story telling online, fix their webpages (is there anything worse than as an artist to write a text about yourself?).

What I love is visual story telling and creating a mood. In my illustrations, art work, products, consultancy jobs and collaborations.

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach

What was it that you felt yourself drawn to illustration and fashion? 

I’ve always been fascinated with fashion. Even as a child I would draw and draw and draw for hours telling stories that would allow me to draw the princess over and over again, every time in a new dress.

What I love about fashion is that you make art that can actually be worn. To me, it’s useful art. The possibility of story telling is amazing! It’s not only about clothes, but also about the mood, the detail, the backdrop or the cut of the video.

I guess what ultimately drew me into fashion and illustration is that you can create moods, and that you have extremely high aesthetical integrity in this industry. (I’ve worked in finance and politics before, but people in fashion have so much more integrity!)

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach

How did you move from Germany to Copenhagen?

I moved to Copenhagen after finishing my high school. I’ve been here for almost 9 years. (Starting to get a Danish accent when speaking German, I need to do something about this!).

After high school I was ready for something new, and I’ve always loved to Copenhagen and it’s fashion, so it was an easy choice. For a little while, I also lived in Seoul, South Korea. It’s an amazing city and the time there was truly inspiring. There were so many parallels to Nordic design, but also completely different from the west. It ultimately taught me just how much I loved to live in Copenhagen. Copenhagen is cool, crisp and clean.

And apart from that, there is so much happening right now. All the creativity in fashion, writing, movies, music. I love it!

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach

In your own words, why do you think it is important to have fashion illustrators in the industry today? There are so many photographers and bloggers who upload pictures instantly on the internet. Drawing a painting is a lot more work and takes even more time. What’s your take on that and where do you see the importancy of fashion illustration in general?

I think it’s important to have illustrators nowadays, because it’s too easy to take a picture. When things take time, you think more carefully about it. You can upload hundreds of pictures to your blog, but illustrating a garment makes you learn every detail of the garment. Also, you have more of a curated view on for example a fashion week report. When illustrating, I don’t illustrate the most obvious look from a show, I rather tend to chose one the speaks to me visually. It gives a different perspective to the industry, really. I see more and more of the big players using fashion illustration even in their campaign work. But I also think it’s a trend, and trends end. Until then I will enjoy it while it lasts.

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach

What makes an illustrator different in terms of documenting a garment on the runway at a fashion show?

Illustrating a garment brings the actual clothes back into focus. Often, you need to work quickly, so you focus on the pieces, and the most important signature elements. It’s not about the model or the surrounding, but about the actual clothes. To me, it’s kind of a boiling down the essence.

Who’s your favourite illustrator?

Oh, I have several! I love what Bil Donovan does for Rosie Assoulin these days! He has my dream job.

Then of course I also love, love, love Esra Rois and Ernesto Artillo. I discovered them and their work a while ago. And actually they’ve both been super encouraging about my work.

And of course: QUENTIN JONES!

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach


Besides fashion, what else do you enjoy drawing?

I cannot help but draw gazillion portraits, the human face and it’s personality. A few years ago I had an exhibition with portraits only. The show’s name was “Shadow Plays” and was centered on the different sides of a personality.

Currently, I’m actually working on an exhibition, which will open end of august (28-30) at my Atelier collective UnderBroen 10.

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach

The theme is “Schachnovelle”, inspired by one of my favourite authors Stefan Zweig. I’m drawing a lot of black and white check decks, horses, queens (!) and some de-crowned kings right now.

I discovered some kind of feminist message, when I first started with the subject of chess and learning about the strategy in chess. In this game, the strongest figure is the queen. She can move like all the other figures combined (except for the knight), and can anywhere and finish a game, when a pawn crosses the back line. So my work so far is exploring the queen as a figure. I want women to rule the game, and forget about the King. He’s so limited in his moves and isn’t even worth any points. The queen should rather team up with the knight, who complements her skills, and win the game. Who needs an old fashioned King anyway? I’m all about #Queensonly.

The exhibition will be held together with another artist, who works a lot with flowers and concrete shapes, so it’s really a dialogue on a set subject. And part of the set-up will be special events during the exhibition, where I collaborate with a girls collective called sweet sneak, who will serve some sweet things inspired by the same theme.

Click on this link to attend the facebook event: A CHESS NOVEL 

UnderBroen 10, Bregnerødgade 8-10, 2200 København NV

Friday, August 28: 4pm-10pm
Saturday, August 29: 2pm-6pm 
Sunday, August 30: 12pm-4pm

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach


What kind of qualities do you need if you want to make it as a fashion illustrator?

That’s a good question… So far I’ve learned that of course you need some kind of talent and passion, and that it’s almost as important to have the guts to follow your own path and keep doing what you love. And then of course you need to network to get the jobs.


Do you have a favourite Danish designer?

Of course! I loooove Freya Dalsjö, Saks Potts, Mark Kenly Domino Tan, Han Kjøbenhavn, Anne Sofie Madsen and many more.

What they have in common is, that they are really strong in their design DNA. Freya Dalsjö is at the forefront of design. What she shows in her collections can be seen in the big brands a few seasons later. Saks Potts on the other hand are really smart about creating a strong brand on a few styles, and slowly building up the portfolio – from fur jackets, to kimonos, to their first fashion show this summer!

Mark is more grand in his vision, but equally smart. I love his use of color. Han Kjøbenhavn and Anne Sofie Madsen you all know by now, I guess. But have you seen Anne Sofie Madsen’s new resort collection? Do it!


What do you think about fashion trends?

There will always be trends. It’s just no longer just the magazines dictating them. Now they come from strong brands, such as for example Celine, and all the style influencers. The good thing is that more and more people get tired of changing trends, high street chains like Zara and H&M. More people tend to buy clothes, which suit their personality rather than a specific trend. But I doubt that the trend craze will go away, because we still have fashion bloggers who advocate trends, just like magazines do (did). And we will always have people who just want to know what they should wear.

(c) Isabella Hemmersbach

What do you want your future to hold for you in terms of you career and as an illustrator? 

I would love my future hold some more big clients. I’ve worked with both German and Italian Vogue, and I’ve worked with some local fashion brands, now I’m ready for some bigger projects. And Japanese or American Vogue? 😉

It could also be a book cover, another album cover, packaging illustrations, or even a print collaboration. I’m currently also experimenting with a few products, like ceramics, wall paper and other products that can be used to create a setting with a special mood. If you come to the exhibition end of August, you can see some previews 😉

Oh, and I would love to do more film and animation with my illustrations!


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