Brenna Daugherty has an Etsy shop called Hep Threads Vintage. That’s how we met, so to speak. She created a lovely illustration — the one you see of me on this website, where I’m looking right at you, like I know something. It’s a strange and delightful thing to see yourself as an illustration, mysterious almost. How does she do that? I wondered. I asked Brenna if she was willing to do a short interview about her process. Happily, she agreed.
You studied art at UC Berkeley. Did you know you always wanted to be an artist?
Yes! I’ve been enamored with all things creative and artsy since I could hold a crayon. In high school and at UC Berkeley I studied fine art, but since then I’ve delved into the world of illustration and I’ve found that that is my true calling.
Your store, Hep Threads Vintage, is also a vintage clothing store on Etsy. How does your love of vintage and your love of art play out in your work?
I’ve been fascinated by nostalgic imagery, history and vintage fashion for almost as long as I have been interested in art. Not surprisingly, much of my illustration work carries sentimental and vintage themes, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt.
In the case of your portrait illustration, Lauren, I drew inspiration from vintage botanical illustrations and postcards as well as 1940’s dress details.
What do you enjoy about doing illustrations? What do you look to translate from a photo to an illustration?
I love illustration because it’s art for the masses; you don’t have to be an established art critic to understand its merit and it resides in everyday life, not solely in galleries and museums. Illustration is also an incredible (and fun!) challenge because at the end of the day the goal is to create a unique representation of something or someone that is both aesthetically pleasing and satisfies the client and finding that balance always keeps me on my toes.
When it comes to using a reference photo of a person to create an illustration, I strive to capture an accurate rendering of the subject as well as some essence of their personality. My illustration style is fun and cheery and I’ve found that my clients are too, so it’s usually quite easy to capture both.
Is this your full-time world, or are you also at a day job? If so, how do you balance those different roles?
Illustration is unfortunately not my full-time world…yet! My dream career is absolutely illustration, but as I work towards that, I also have a day job where I work as an art assistant at painting classes in Sonoma County, CA. Luckily for me, my day job is art-related so balancing illustration with that isn’t too tough; being around aspiring artists every day always inspires me to come home and work diligently on my illustration projects.
*Visit Brenna’s shop, Hep Threads Vintage on Etsy, to order your own illustration or a very sweet dress.
Thank you, Brenna!