Nowadays, it’s easy to forget about local communities and artists when the Internet has made shopping so convenient and readily available at your fingertips. But by backing local and supporting small businesses, you ensure the success and prosperity of the local community.
Perth fashion illustrator, Pippa McManus has been illustrating for 17+ years. She has illustrated for teen magazine Girlfriend, and recently, her art has been featured in illustration books, such as Somer Flaherty Tejwani’s The Art of Fashion Illustration. In 2014, McManus held her first national solo show at Friends of Leon gallery in Sydney, where all 30 of her paintings were sold.
I sat down with her to talk all things fashion, art, and the importance of supporting local businesses.
Talk me through your journey to becoming a fashion illustrator!
I first started getting into fashion illustration when I was 15 or 16. I was always very artistic and interested in having a career in art. I studied fine arts at TAFE and then I decided that I really should’ve been doing fashion design all along so I moved, literally, across the road to the fashion campus and studied fashion design for three years. There was a component of fashion illustration, and that’s what I really liked about the whole course.
Has it always been a passion of yours?
It’s always been something that I’m passionate about! My Mum was a huge fan of fashion when I was younger so she used to take me to fashion parades. That’s kind of where my basis is for my theme for my art. It’s always got something to do with fashion.
What made you decide to start illustrating luxury scarves?
I always wanted to do a product along with my canvas paintings. I always thought that it had more life; there was somewhere else to go with it. As I did textile design, I knew a lot about silks and about textiles so I decided to start a scarf range. I chose my two favourite and most popular prints that I’d done and turned them into scarves. I found a manufacturer and I had a lot of help from a girl who works with me on PR. She was great. We got tags produced, we got boxes produced, all the packaging, and it’s been a two-year process. It’s been really fun and I’m really happy with the final product!
Besides the scarves, where or what else do you illustrate?
Besides scarves, I illustrate just canvases at the moment. I then can make the canvases into prints, which is a more affordable option for people. Art can be quite expensive so I totally understand that I need to cater for everybody.
What is your long-term goal for your brand?
My long-term goal is to expand and have a larger range of products but also explore more fine art and high-end art as well. I really want to be able to cater for everyone in the way that they can afford anything from a $250 print up to a $5,000 painting that could be exhibited in a beautiful gallery. There’s a million things I want to do and it’s really funny the way it comes to you over time. The more you experiment as an artist, you get more ideas as well.
Why do you think people should support local businesses, such as yours?
I really think it’s a great idea to support local businesses, whether it’d be in your field or just supporting your local pizza shop! I’ve gotten to know some really great people who run businesses around here, both in the art community and in other professions. It keeps your suburb vibrant. It’s a really lovely thing knowing people around you and getting to know them and realising how much their business is important just as yours is.
What could people get out of buying from local designers as opposed to buying fast fashion?
I’m very much into buying local designers and supporting people around me who are making fashion and art. I do love shopping at a larger chain, so at H&M or somewhere like that. But I have to be able to see that they have a sustainability element to their brand, as H&M do, which is great. You can bring your old clothes to H&M and they will recycle them for you. I also try and split my purchases between local designers and also vintage designers. I’m a big fan of going online and shopping at places like Vestiaire, and The RealReal. It’s a sustainable choice when buying fashion. I want something that I can invest in and it’s had a really special life with someone else and that now I can enjoy for years and years to come.
Some people say when you see a tag that says ‘Made in Perth’, for instance, it tells a story about the city and the kind of lives people have. What do you think your products says about Perth?
I think it’s great when you buy a product and it says “Made in Australia” or “Made in Perth”. It immediately makes you think that these people behind it have been inspired and influenced by the city that you live in. There’s a great brand in Leederville, ILKA. I feel like we have the same inspiration and we see the same things. Also Varga Girl in Leederville. We have the same inspiration when it comes to other brands that we look at because we’ve all come up from the same place and we’ve been working in Perth for years and years. It’s wonderful to know that you share that community aspect with them.