Once Upon A Curvy Sketch
by Angelique Robles
Once upon a time there was a beautifully talented little girl who always knew she wanted to be an artist. As she grew up she dreamed of working for the dazzling world of Disney but it turns out her pumpkin carriage would lead her to an even more magical place. She traded her years in fashion design for gorgeous curvy drawings of beautiful women that would captivate the imagination of plus size women everywhere! THE END.
No but really, Kathleen Doyle’s passion and imagination is nothing short of a whimsical fairytale. When she was little she loved the Disney princesses’ gowns and was enthralled at the way they moved. Who would have known that with a little bit of magic and lots of hard work Curvy Sketches would be born!
Tell me about when you first started your artwork. Was this something you always had an interest in?
I have always loved sketching and have been drawing my entire life, although when I was younger I was more into character design and historical costumes. I began doing curvy fashion illustration in 2012, after I went through fashion college and had started working in the fashion industry in Montreal.
Where did the inspiration come from to draw curvy women?
When I was in fashion school, we had design courses that included fashion illustration. I was one of the larger students in the class at 250 lbs (in some classes I WAS the largest student) and at the time I was self conscious about my size. I found it challenging sometimes to relate to what I was designing, because traditional fashion illustration requires the body to be drawn very slender (generally the waist should be the width of the neck). The majority of my projects were for straight size women.
By 2012, I had been working in the fashion industry for a few years. I do a lot of “behind the scenes” work in production (I’m not a designer at my day job), and I started to miss designing and illustrating. So I decided to create an online portfolio of designs to keep my creative side satisfied.
While researching fashion blogs as inspiration for my sketches, I stumbled upon Karen Ward’s Curvy Canadian blog. It was the first time I had seen a plus size fashion blog and I was hooked! I started reading more curvy fashion blogs but when I went looking for plus size fashion illustration, I was surprised that there were very few illustrators that I could find at that time who were concentrating on curves.
I knew I had to start drawing curvy fashion sketches to fill my own need to see plus size women represented in fashion illustration.
Traditional fashion illustrators who sketch straight size fashions tend to draw the same type of body with the same type of proportions (I’m talking specifically about the body shape and dimensions of bust, waist, hip, leg). I am trying to represent a variety of body sizes and showcase their beauty, and it has been a very rewarding and positive journey.
What is the main thing that you try to capture or portray in your artwork?
Confidence, style, and elegance.
Would you say that your artwork has a particular style and do you think your style has changed over the years?
My illustration style has definitely changed over the years. The more you practice your craft, the more you evolve as an artist and the better you become. When I look at my work from four years ago, I can see improvement in how I do everything from body poses to hair detailing to fabric rendering.
Even when I look at work that I did from six months ago, I can see my evolution. I am always working on improving my shading skills, my colour palettes, and to get better at figure drawing. Life sketching classes have been invaluable for improving my craft.
One of the changes that has made the most difference to my art is when I switched mediums. When I started Curvy Sketches, I was colouring my illustrations with watercolour paints. About a year ago I picked up artist markers such as Copics and Shinhan Touch, which is what I used back in design school. When I started using markers again, I felt so happy with the crisp lines and bold colours that I was able to achieve. I started to feel that my sketches were really living up to my own vision in my head, and that was a thrilling moment for me.
I love seeing how far I have come, and it gets me excited about what the future holds for my art.
What are some of the challenges that you experience when creating your art?
A major challenge for me is trying to find enough time in the day for my art! Each sketch takes several hours to complete, and it can be a tough to find the time while still working a full-time day job.
What piece have you created that you are the most proud of and why?
I am most proud of the collections that I draw based on actual Fashion Week runways. I love taking a straight size design and re-interpreting it for plus size bodies. I’m proud of those sketches because it challenges the notion that plus size bodies can’t look good in certain types of clothes. I want to see more plus size representation on the runway, and this is my way of contributing to that dream.
Tell me about your own personal journey to self-love.
I found it difficult in my early 20s to love the size and shape of my body. What has helped me the most on my journey is the fact that I have a wonderful wife, family, and friends who all love me for who I am, not for what I look like. Their acceptance really allowed me to accept myself.
Having access to affordable trendy clothing for my size has also been so important to helping me gain confidence in my own skin. When I was younger, it was hard for me to feel comfortable in what I was wearing because so many plus size clothes at the time were matronly – I felt like I was dressing like someone 15 – 20 years older than my age! It’s been wonderful to see more plus size clothing options out there today, and to be able to dress the way that I feel.
What are you currently working on? What are your plans for future collections?
I’m so excited for what the future holds for Curvy Sketches, and part of that excitement comes from not having a strict plan for the year. I like to keep my schedule flexible because it allows me to jump into projects quickly when the right moment strikes. I’m open to new opportunities, and I couldn’t be happier!
Website: www.curvysketches.com, www.etsy.com/ca/shop/CurvySketches