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Katie Rodgers, the artist behind the blog Paper Fashion and an illustrator who has collaborated with Armani, Cartier, Saks Fifth Avenue, and American Express, among other clients, is partnering for the second time with the house of horology nearing 400 patents: Jaeger-LeCoultre. Rodgers created an inspiring gouache series for the Swiss watchmaker’s 2016 Reverso One Lady’s Collection. She shared with Whitewall her current inspirations and also discussed how she perceives the role of illustration by hand in an increasingly digitized world.
WHITEWALL: What were the themes and elements that inspired you for the paintings accompanying the 2016 Reverso One Collection?
KATIE RODGERS: The paintings were direct responses to specific Jaeger-LeCoultre women’s timepieces. I tried to capture the essence and feeling of the inspiration behind each piece in a whimsical and elegant way that reflects both Jaeger-LeCoultre and myself. For example, creating a mood of space and time with a crescent moon for the Reverso One Duetto Moon watches . . .
WW: This is your second time working with Jaeger-LeCoultre. What have you connected with within the world of watchmaking? Were you familiar with mechanical watchmaking prior to these projects?
KR: I have grown to love and appreciate Jaeger-LeCoultre’s story and the amount of craft and delicate detail that goes into each piece. Their pieces are truly wearable works of art, and I find that very aspirational. They are so much more than just luxury. I was familiar with watchmaking prior to working with Jaeger-LeCoultre, although not in depth. I spent some time working as an intern at New York City’s Hermès store as a student and learned a bit about the art of watchmaking there.
WW: Your blog suggests that anything for you is an inspiration leading to drawing. How vital or compulsive is drawing for you?
KR: The simplest things we often take for granted—or contrastingly, the complex beauty within fashion, culture, and dance—constantly inspire me. Ever since I can remember, I have felt a connection with speaking visually. I communicate when creating artworks; I let my mind speak through my pencil or paintbrush. That connection has never faded and continues to grow stronger as I get older. I find art to be a therapeutic way of explaining ideas and thoughts.
WW: With the advent of the digital age, the way in which illustration is executed is dramatically changing. How do you foresee this evolution?
KR: I think of this in a similar way to how I see watchmaking (non-smart watches). I appreciate simplicity even more so as the world is moving at a faster pace. I think there’s so much beauty in wearing a piece of art on your wrist that serves one purpose: telling time. Yet, when you think about time within a life, it is so much more complex and beautiful than just “What time is it?”
Similarly, with illustration, I appreciate the art of someone creating an image by hand. Taking what’s within one’s imagination and translating it visually for the world to see. Creating a line with one’s hands, with the possibility of making human errors. There is something beautiful about that, rather than having an algorithm create that line for you. I believe people will continue to appreciate fine arts and illustration by hand forever. Especially in a digitized world, people long to see human touch.
WW: What do you find compelling in the role illustration plays in fashion, both in the past and today?
KR: I believe the role of fashion illustration has changed quite dramatically since its earlier days. Initially, it was a way for a designer to show their designs before they were made, or to create an image for advertising prior to photography. Nowadays, illustration serves a different purpose. It has become more of a fine art, something that isn’t used for technical reasons (as most fashion concepts are created digitally these days). People appreciate seeing an artist’s interpretation of fashion through their fine art medium . . . or to create something visually pleasing that tells the story of fashion.