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Guest post: The essential act of drawing by Rob Phillips

Rob Phillips
Written by
Published date
16 October 2014
Rob Phillips, Creative Director of the School of Design and Technology

Rob Phillips, Creative Director for the School of Design and Technology, @robphillipswork

Rob Phillips, Creative Director for the School of Design & Technology is obsessed with image making and believes, in his own words, “drawing to be the most important, visceral and inspiring skill any designer or anyone wanting to enter fashion should have, not just for their practice but their mind”.

In recent weeks Rob has been using Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to show his speedy sketches of the LFW Spring 2015 international catwalk collections that sit amongst other imagery he creates and finds inspiring. Here the LCF director takes to the LCF News airways to share his thoughts on drawing and fashion.

Everyone in design should draw, and they shouldn’t be afraid. I can draw up to 100 sketches a day and throw them all in the bin because I just don’t feel them. That’s fine. It’s an ongoing practice and I can simply start again.

Images are more powerful than words and the body is the most expressive form, drawing only heightens its power. This is half the reason I became interested in fashion. For designers, understanding the body is so important. With a simple pencil you can connect with the body – feeling the clothes, the creases as your hand moves over the page. It’s an invigorating connection from eyes and mind, to hand, to paper.

I can really understand the frustrations students feel with drawing. Many of them have come from backgrounds that heavily value academic drawing, realistic, almost photographic styles. They are beautiful but as organic creatures we have a series of very complex feelings and thoughts within us. By juxtaposing these realistic and academic skills with more expressive and abstract styles, we can explore our thoughts more deeply and more personally. What’s more, this often results in more originality as well as giving rise to new design ideas.

Personally, I take photos, sketch and do something creative every day. If it’s not fashion based then it’s something else I want to capture that will carry my message.

I love social media as it’s a great way to engage people and communicate with them beyond final outcomes. In fact the use of these platforms is part of my process. The end is not when I have completed a sketch, nor is it when I have photographed it, edited it and uploaded it. No, it ends with the audience – their interaction, comments, likes and shares. This all adds to the work that’s being shown and that’s wonderful. I’m not a brutal editor when it comes to social media, if I do something or see something interesting or exciting, I send it out there. Even if I think a drawing I’ve done is rubbish I still put it out there as the audience interaction is what completes it. Any serious designer today understands the importance of the audience/consumer.

I really get into a head space when I draw. I need music (I reference the tracks in my social posts), plenty of different media, research and imagery and most importantly – more importantly than an idea – a feeling. It’s that sense of feeling that comes out of my pencil, through posture, an attitude, an expression. I work fast and instinctively.

Life drawing is one of my favourites. I use myself when I don’t have a model. Pulling poses and photographing them to help me understand the body, posture, to feel form, bone, flesh and silhouette. When I draw using my mind’s eye I have tendencies to get a person stuck in my head and they will appear on the paper in various guises. That’s why I love drawing, I can bond with the feelings and character in front of me.

Teaching drawing isn’t just fun, its enlightening.  When you see someone break through the barrier of socially and historically constructed values of what types of drawing are acceptable, when they realise the flick of a line the daub of a brush can express more emotion than any other image, it’s deep and it’s beautiful.

  • See Rob’s image making on instagram @robphillipswork

Rob Phillips, Creative Director for the School of Design and Technology, @robphillipswork