Ever wonder who the talented fashion illustrator behind some of my Instagram photos and new social media avatars is? While I’m multi-talented, I leave the sketching to Daddy and Monica Smiley. Smiley is best known on Instagram as @EightySeventhSt and @CHICTOONS where she turns fashion icons like moi into satyrical cartoons. Before you shop her prints, coasters, stationary and more, get to know the woman behind the cheeky toons.
Choupette’s Diary: How did you get started as a fashion illustrator?
Monica Smiley: I went to school for fashion design, since I was a kid I thought I wanted to be a fashion or costume designer but was awful at garment construction and came to the realization after graduation that my only marketable skill was sketching.
When I started though, there was no instagram and people weren’t really hiring illustrators (it was not the “it” thing at the time- which is always a fun conversation to have with your parents!) so I started a wholesale greeting card company (eighty seventh ST.) and from there people slowly started to recognize my work and contact me for commissions.
CD: The fashion industry is hot for illustrator collaborations lately. What designer would you most like to collaborate with?
MS: Is Daddy Karl available? I’m really open-minded when it comes to collaborations. I usually just go with my gut, if someone pitches something to me I generally can tell weather or not it’s a good fit. I always love clients who have a bit of a sense of humor and whimsy (can you tell?!). My current collaborators are all over the map in terms of different styles and brands so I wouldn’t rule anyone out.
CD: What other fashion illustrators have inspired your work?
MS: I love Al Hirschfeld, I’ve always been inspired by his style and the energy behind his work. He’s not really a “fashion” illustrator, but I think that’s maybe why I like him, I’m more interested in capturing characters, which there are no shortage of in the fashion world (street style blogging is seriously the gift that keeps on giving!) I’m also a big fan of Michael Roberts, another really energetic artist.
CD: What’s the future for Eighty Seventh St?
MS: Who knows?! I started a greeting card company in an email age so I can’t really say how much longer I can keep convincing everyone to buy my products! Luckily I have one foot in the fashion world, and one foot in the stationery world so I have the flexibility to jump back and forth between them and try new things.
We recently just re-launched our website with an online shop so I’m excited to make the line more accessible to the public.
CD: If you couldn’t be a fashion illustrator what would you be?
MS: No clue! I really have no other marketable skills (re: last question- let’s all cross our fingers and hope it works out.