It took getting a degree in womenswear design at one of London’s top schools for Anjelica Roselyn to realize that cutting and sewing wasn’t quite right for her. Turning away from an experience she found uninspired, Roselyn discovered a more artistic and expressive medium in fashion illustration. Next thing she knew, her love of face-to-face interaction and drawing at a breakneck pace led to booking gigs for live illustration at busy events.
Since mid-2017, Roselyn has worked at least one event every month. She’s sketched the fashion-forward guests who attend parties for Google, Starbucks and Wah Nails. Her work has also been featured by Elle Greece, Marc Jacobs and Anna Sui.
Roselyn expertly captures the outfits, shapes, colors, and expressions that wander past her live drawing station, and each guest can take their illustrated portraits home, as a lasting memory of the event. For most of us, it’s a rarity to be drawn by a professional and get to keep the result.
Connecting with the people she illustrates is what Roselyn loves about this type of work. These days she’s making her way as a freelance illustrator from the comfort of her studio, making her work that’s impressing local press and art lovers alike. You can also shop her prints on her portfolio store. But every once in a while, Roselyn goes into hyperspeed for a live drawing session at an event that leaves her subjects stunned and, as she sees it, helps her hone her craft. We spoke to Roselyn about leaving behind fashion, the illustration community, and finding the inspiration to fuel her never-ending quest for self-improvement.
Format: How did you first get hooked on live illustration?
Anjelica: I contacted Wah Nails because I wanted to work with them, and the owner suggested that I do live drawing for their self-love event that was taking place around gay pride week in London. It was an event where people were talking freely about their experiences being LGBTQ. I found that live illustration was just such an easy thing to do there. I think because I draw so fast, I can execute what I need to and talk to the person I’m drawing. It’s just a nice vibe, it really kind of suits who I am.
I think getting a degree in design is the most pressure you could ever go through, especially going to a top school. Because I was used to a lot of pressure, doing live drawing really wasn’t a big deal for me. It was quite fun! It’s good because you get to talk to people whilst you draw and I love doing that. It’s a win-win for me, and it exposes you as well, and people talk to you about your work. You get some really interesting feedback.
Walk us through what a live illustration event is like. Someone walks up to your table and…
So, for example, with the last event I did at the Skinnydip x Google press party, I had my own station. There were other stations; there was a bar at the back and there was a nail station. At the end everyone left on time and I was the last person to stay because everyone was still queuing for me. I do love the interaction. I’m quite chatty as it is, I like when I give someone the drawing and they like it. At the same time, I’m very open to any critique. It’s just so eye-opening when you’re drawing somebody, their live expression and reaction to what you’re doing is so different to what we’re used to on social media.
Do you mean the lack of editing? That the person in front of you is unfiltered and unedited both as you draw them and as they react to your work?
Yeah. Somebody writing a comment on Instagram is very different when they’re telling you to your face what they think. We’re so used to barriers with technology. We have texts and social media, but human interaction is so much better. I’m really open to people’s opinions more than anything. I’m interested in what people have to say about me or my work. Especially being an artist, you have to take in what people say about your work, to a certain extent, because I think you always have to grow.
What’s the most memorable interaction you’ve had while doing a live illustration event?
At the end of the Google x Skinnydip event, one of the girls who was part of the company said to me, “You know that you’ve been busier than the bar the whole night?” And I thought that was really cool because everyone loves to drink, and us in London, we really like a drink. So that was really eye-opening for me.
Another one, earlier this year, a girl said to me, “Your work is so chaotic yet put together.” I thought that was quite accurate. Or, “carefree but thought out.” Because I do think about what I’m doing, but I don’t at the same time.
A lot of people shy away from critique. How have you come to openly embrace that kind of feedback on your work?
I’m forever critiquing myself, saying this could be better or that could be better. Even the arrangement of my portfolio—I change it every few days. It’s an artist thing—that everything needs to be perfect or you’re never finished with anything. And I think that where I am now is OK, it’s good, but it’s just a constant push in my opinion.
You can’t ever rest on your laurels or think, some people like my work or I’ve booked this gig, so I’m ok. You always need to do more, or do new things. Especially in illustration, things can be a bit repetitive and that’s something I’ve been guilty of before. So you’ve got to keep it moving.
What do you do to keep things moving?
The most important thing for me is my inspiration point. I can’t have the same or similar inspiration point for too long, even down to the kind of images that I’m using. It has to move on. It has to be fresh. It has to be exciting. Because I get very bored very easily. Not just with work, just in life. My mind moves at this rate, which is probably why I draw so quickly actually, because I just have to execute what’s in my mind.
Earlier on, I was doing more runway drawing because that was where my origin was, coming from design school. I’m starting to shy away from that a little bit now. It’s still something I love, but I’m constantly moving on to what’s different. At the moment, it’s still something I’m searching for, that next big inspiration point. I think things just become redundant really quickly.
Has transitioning into illustration introduced you to other artists or to a community you weren’t aware of before?
Working with Women Who Draw has been really awesome for starters. Seeing all these illustrators around the world was just so amazing. I’m such a fan of other people’s work, seeing what people do and individual styles, it’s just amazing to me.
I love the whole network and industry of illustration, especially coming from design, where I think it’s very singular. In design, it’s not really a community, and I think illustration and artwork is more community-based. It’s just better, especially for me and my personality. I think I’m more suited to the illustration community. Fashion design just didn’t really click with me. I don’t want to be talking about illustration like everything is perfect, but I do really like it. I like the industry I’m in.
It sounds like being a part of a larger community of illustrators has had a big impact on you.
Yeah, it’s great. Just being the age that I am, I think a lot of people in their 20s go through a process of finding out what you’re about, and I think I’ve found something here. I’m pleased. I’m hopeful.