The Art and Panache of Dior’s Bil Donovan
An Illustrative Influence
By Slavica Monczka
As an ambassador for Christian Dior Beauty, Bil Donovan has taken on the role of Artist-in-Residence; a consultant and illustrator for the eminent line since 2009. Even so, the dashing Donovan still stylishly wears the many hats he has worn to achieve this position: artist, educator, author and fashion illustrator. Recently, Donovan shared some thoughts with us surrounding his creative journey, graciously revealing more about the path of a talented, world-renowned man of influence.
Donovan’s long list of clients are the crème de la crème of the fashion industry, from Givenchy, YSL and Escada to Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barney’s. He has been commissioned to create projects of worldwide significance, from book covers to packaging design to stunning advertisements. In his book, “Advanced Fashion Drawing” (Laurence King Publishing 2010), Donovan describes the execution of illustrating “with a sense of fashion, rather than one that concentrates solely on the fashion figure.” The volume is rich in illustrations by Donovan as well as by other talents such as Tina Berning and Cecilia Carlstedt.
When asked what he found particularly inspiring about the one of his primary inspirations, the human body. “The infinite possibilities in the nuance of a gesture, pose or movement of the figure. To capture the essence of those ideas through a simple line or shape, that is invigorating to me.” He transcendentally replied, “I am at one with the figure; I feel its weight and lightness, the pulsing energy and languid sensuality through the rhythm and flow of my line or stroke. It is still magical to me.”
Once a student hungry to learn; now a teacher compelled to enlighten, Donovan is an assistant adjunct professor in the Illustration Department at The Fashion Institute of Technology, where he teaches illustration reflective of the contemporary market.
Now that the roles are reversed, this former FIT student sees a reflection of himself in the eager young eyes of his students. “I totally relate to them. I see their passion mixed with anxiety, and the euphoria that accompanies perfecting your art. I was at one time riding the same roller coaster of accomplishments and frustrations. I do see myself in their reflections, but …” he added generously “they are wiser than I was.” Donovan speaks of his students warmly – almost paternally: “I want to prepare them for the realities of the world. I share my experiences with them, the good and the bad, my successes my failures, my achievements and shortcomings … anything to shed some light on their path.”
This artist, author and teacher is saddled with no compunctions surrounding his career; no regrets in his life. His path has taken him precisely where he wants to be. In our informal discussion, he imagined where the magical path of his life might lead 30 years from now. “Continuing with Dior; creating a full length featured animation with a focus on fashion illustration for a major Hollywood studio … lounging on a beach in the tropics with my partner Ken Nintzel, a frozen margarita … and my Oscar for animation.”
Bil plus Dior
To adore Color, scents and images galore
For the fashion whore.