Part-time Professional: (How to make it as a Fashion Illustrator)

By Mazvita Musendo

“I just had to work at it everyday”

Media industries are saturated with young hopefuls rushing to apply for a limited number of opportunities. There are a handful of people who have figured out how to break down those locked doors. Whether they’re working, in education or with child care responsibilities, these part-time professionals are people you’ll be looking out for soon. So, how are they doing it?

Gisela Gayleard, a third year fashion illustration student at the London College of Fashion, radiates warmth and homeliness in her tone as she describes her experiences within the illustration industry. 

Her art, however, cuts a much sharper edge than her sweet demeanour.  Gisela has important things to say and her bold drawings are making everyone listen. Her themes often express ideas of female empowerment, freedom and sexual liberation with daring execution. Here is why Gisela’s art is unapologetically making waves.

Lines to Freedom

It’s often hard to find work within creative sectors, such as illustration, as the competition is ridiculously high – especially in London. Pair this with having a regular job and it can become quite a troubling scenario.

“Finding things costs money, I luckily got an internship after I contacted a well known book group. You just have to go for it. Being from a university in London is very attractive to some of these American companies”

‘Lines to Freedom’ explores the female form and is influenced by traditional nude paintings from the italian renaissance era. It was constructed with 6 different pieces of tracing paper, each with a drawing from a different era. The piece aims to desexualise female bodies by expressing sexuality and it’s complexity through the different layered images. Essentially, this piece takes ownership of the male gaze that is often on women and transforms it into a reflection of the female body.

A Parisian Dream 

Time management and expenses are often a key reason for people not doing as well as they could. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that needs to be done.

“I moved in with my parents to save money, and it’s helped a lot, I draw on my hour journey to London and I’ve ended up with so much stuff for my portfolio. It’s almost ridiculous!”

‘A Parisian Dream’ is a depiction of a fantasy world – hence the image looks like many famous buildings with an element of distortion. Parisian infrastructures are the key inspiration. The hour glass shape of the structure can also be used to infer meanings of time and movement. 

“You learn to do stuff wherever you are, I have to plan my whole life ahead or everything goes wrong.”

This is the most accurate representation of Gayleard’s art style.

Sorry I’m keeping my legs closed 

Being patient is key as an industry beginner. Sometimes the best work takes the most effort and time. 

“People didn’t expect it, but I basically made a gallery, I took out the photographs of the nude women already inside the public telephone box and replaced them with my own drawn versions. Sometimes you have to go to the extreme and I’d say it paid off.”

Over a period of 3 months Gisela displayed ‘Sorry I’m keeping my legs closed’ with a series of other images in a public telephone box. The “traditional London prop” was painstakingly cleaned and sanitised in preparation for the pop up gallery. Viewers were questioned on their beliefs on female nudity and expression. Gayleard received mixed responses but the piece of art got people talking and it was important for her to feel that people were “actually learning from it”.


Although some people may prefer working on their own, freelance work sometimes requires team work. The ability to bring ideas together seamlessly is very important. 

“It’s really hard sometimes as you don’t have full artistic direction, but I’m quite flexible so I don’t mind, I just get stuck in,” 

For ‘Red’ Gisela worked with a photographer in order to recreate a picture with added illustrations and distortion. Inspirations include Frida Khalo, lust and a Brazilian colour palette. Everything from the placement of the letters is deliberate and unapologetic.

“Sometimes people don’t like it, it doesn’t matter. Art is so subjective. You have to grow thick skin, and the more you do the better you’ll be.”

According to Gisela one the best things to do is make sure you have a portfolio filled with things you’re proud of. So it’s back to grafting young professionals, there’s a lot of work to do.

All art belongs to Gisela Gayleard who can be found on Instagram: @_gisela_illustrations.


Accessibility | Cookies | Terms of use and privacy