To celebrate and highlight the talents of our Short Course tutors, Central Saint Martins Window Gallery at 1 Granary Square is currently exhibiting some extraordinary work. From ceramics, to jewellery, haute couture embroidery, fashion drawing, photography and illustration, the exhibition will showcase the talent of seven of our short courses tutors. Fashion Illustrator and Central Saint Martins tutor Alexis Panayiotou contributed a large scale drawing of artist Paul Kindersley, to highlight the kinds of exercises that take place on a Fashion Drawing course. We talk to Alexis about his work in the exhibition, where he finds inspiration and his advice for aspiring creatives.
How did you become a Fashion Illustrator?
After I finished my MA in 2004 I worked for Basso & Brooke doing illustrations for their digital textile prints. I had trained as a womenswear designer but I enjoyed doing a job where I could draw all day and I ended up staying there for 4 years before I left and took a job teaching illustration at Central Saint Martins on the BA fashion course and for the short courses in 2008.
Where do you get your inspiration from and how do you stay inspired?
The initial idea for a project can come from anywhere. I go and see as much as I can, art shows, films etc. I look at illustrators I like, and other stuff like computer games, anime and comics, I like all sorts of imagery and it all feeds into the work. I go to life drawing classes as often as I can as it’s important to keep drawing as much as possible and I find that ideas often come during the process of making work. Unexpected things can happen whilst working that I couldn’t have foreseen or planned and by the time a piece of work is finished it has usually generated further ideas.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I am working primarily on portrait painting
Tell us about your work in the CSM Short Courses exhibition.
The work in the exhibition demonstrates the kind of exercises we do on the drawing course, but on a much larger scale. I wanted to produce some figures that reveal the workings of the drawing, like an anatomy diagram you can see the ‘innards’ of the figure in layers from the initial basic skeleton, the basic shapes of the figure either drawn or using collage, and then details like print and the face, although not always necessarily in that order.
Which piece of creative work in any discipline do you most love?
I like all sorts of work, it’s very difficult to pick one piece. I go to the National Gallery a lot and I have a few favourite paintings there, I particularly like Samson and Delilah by Rubens and The Bathers at Asnieres by Seurat. I love John Singer Sergent’s picture Carnation Lily Lily Rose at Tate Britain, it’s a beautiful study of the light quality at dusk.
What advice would you give to aspiring creatives? What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The best advice I suppose is to persevere and to work as often as possible. Drawing is a very demanding and at times frustrating process and progress can be slow and imperceptible. Keep all your drawings good and bad and then look back on them after a few months and you will see the improvement, provided you have kept working in the meantime. Norman Rockwell said that there is always a point during the course of making a painting when you feel like it has failed and you have to summon the will to push through and finish the work. This piece of advice, and knowing that a painter as monumentally talented as he was still encountered such problems, has helped me finish many a painting that I otherwise might have trashed out of frustration
Alexis Panayiotou teaches a range of short courses at Central Saint Martins, including Life Drawing for Fashion Designers, Create a Fashion Portfolio – Intermediate and Fashion Drawing for Beginners. Further details on all of our courses can be found on the Short Courses website http://www.arts.ac.uk/csm/courses/short-courses/. The CSM Short Courses exhibition takes place in the Window Gallery at Central Saint Martins until 3 September 2017. To see what goes on in the CSM Short Courses classroom, follow @csmshortcourses and #MYCSM