Artist Interview - Sunny Gu

With fashion month coming to a close, we wanted to round out the month with one more interview with a fashion illustrator.  Every artist has their own unique background, style, experiences, techniques, and perspective. We can all learn from each other, be inspired by one another, and continue to share the joy of art.  Here is what artist Sunny Gu had to say:


Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Sunny Gu, a fashion illustrator based in Chicago and Los Angeles.


Why do you do what you do?

I LOVE fashion and I enjoy creating art, so creating art and design for fashion and beauty companies became my dream job!


What made you decide to focus on fashion as a subject?

I love this subject more than others because fashion is both timeless and ever-changing. I’m constantly getting inspirations and motivations from the latest fashion shows, people watching on the streets, random colors and patterns I come across in everyday life.


What are your favorite subjects?

Commercially, I enjoy painting runway looks from the latest fashion shows.

Personally, I love creating fashion illustrations inspired by my obsessions at the moment, which changes all the time.


Are there any trends that have been your favorite to sketch?

Floral patterns! I’m a big flower lover, my nickname is “Bee” while growing up.


Which designer’s shows do you look forward to every season & why?

There are so many! Dolce & Gabbana, Valentino, Chanel, Versace, Marchesa to name a few. These brands always come up with elegant designs, vibrant color palettes, and exquisite craftsmanship.


How and when did you get into art?

Drawing and painting have become my favorite thing to do since I was 2 years old.


How has your practice changed over time?

Over the years, I’m slowly learning to be more brave and bold while creating. In the beginning, I would worry about the smallest details or be stuck on the tiniest mistake. Now I try to create with the flow, finish the whole artwork, and fix any problem later. I don’t want to be too cautious when creating, I aim to be more spontaneous. Because creating is always a work in process, trial and error, we are learning from every brushstroke we make. I hope to learn to enjoy the process rather than focus on if I did everything “right”.


What’s your favorite piece of art that you’ve created? Why?

My favorite project so far is my collaboration with Disney and Zales Jewellers on three magical fashion-art videos to promote the new collection.

I had the pleasure of working with a team of professionals and was filmed creating flower fashion art inspired by three female Disney characters showcasing both my mixed media paintings and the pieces by Zales Jewellers. First, we sketched and painted fashion illustrations inspired by the characters, then incorporated freshly picked flower petals into the artwork. We picked flowers that are not just in season, but we looked into the flower symbolism and meaning, to complement the magical themes. We used a variety of roses for Belle, pastel-colored hydrangeas for Cinderella, black rose succulent (Aeonium arboreum 'Zwartkop'), and a variety of daisies for Maleficent.

It’s such a magical project, besides working with the dream team, I was using fresh flowers as a creative medium (flowers are my favorite things in the world!!!).


What’s the best piece of art advice you’ve been given?

Practice makes Perfect.

I have received and read countless pieces of advice over the years, this phrase is still the most practical!


What’s one art tip/technique you can share with us that you find really helpful?

Write down or sketch out any random idea/inspiration at the moment, it may blossom into the next favorite artwork.


Do you have any secret tips or techniques you use to salvage a piece when you make a mistake?

If it’s a small mistake, I simply ignore it, sometimes when I finish the painting, it no longer looks like a “mistake”. If I still find it troublesome, I repaint the part on another piece of paper, scan the original painting and the repainted part and fix the “mistake” digitally.

If it’s a HUGE mistake, it’s best to start fresh.


What is your favorite Strathmore paper? Why?

Throughout my art school years, I diligently used 300 Series Bristol pads for most of my school assignment, the high-quality paper is affordable for students, but also very well made so that it can withstand different mediums.

I also went through many pads of 400 Series Sketchbooks, these are easy to carry on the go, to write down ideas and sketch out rough compositions before working on more complicated pieces.

For final illustrations, personal projects, or commercial projects, I prefer the 500 Series Ready Cut Watercolor. These are a very practical size, ready to be painted and scanned. They have great water hold-out, show paint color, and scan very well.


What art materials could you not live without?

Watercolor painting materials (paint, paper, brush) and old fashioned pencils


What types of colors are you drawn to for your art and why?

Sometimes I challenge myself to use a limited palette, but most of the time, I’d love to include all the colors of the rainbow.

Who are your biggest influences (or who were when you started doing art)?

I started falling in love when I was little, at that time, I didn’t know much about art history or art masters. When I went to art school, I was mesmerized by the work of Vincent van Gogh, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Gustav Klimt.

What’s the most common art-related question you get from your followers?

What materials I used to create my work.

Where can we find you online?

Website: https://sunnygu.com/

Instagram: @happysunnygu

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