The Illustrator Series: Clym Evernden

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Prada Marfa
Prada MarfaIllustration by Clym Evernden

The first in a series focusing on illustrators, Kin Woo meets Clym Evernden, Britain's most coveted illustrative reporter

As a former ballet dancer and model, Clym Evernden’s slender and elegant frame has been a familiar presence on the front rows of fashion shows and at the chicest parties around town for some time now. More than mere guest, he does double duty as reporter, illustrating events for an impressive list of clients that include AnOther, Vogue, Vanity Fair and The Telegraph. His vast photographic memory means he never knows when inspiration will hit him: “I feel like I should always cart around a sketchbook but the way I work, it’s important for me to absorb information visually. If you spent whole time trying to record it on a page you’ll only exercise part of your brain. I get as much creative inspiration from watching people.”

While the role of illustrative reporting may seem a throwback to earlier times; in his capturing of the small intimate moments backstage or his stylishly dashed off sketches of the likes of Naomi Campbell, Kylie Minogue and Mario Testino, the results are witty, fresh and resolutely modern. “I’m a bit divided on that actually,” he protests. “Illustration always is related to a particular era, maybe the 40s and 50s, and associated on that couture level. It’s not a bad thing but I’m not that interested in that kind of era.”

“People are trying to bring back a human feel, a soul into the page” – Clym Evernden

The son of two artists, he has drawn ever since he can remember. It was while doing a BA in Fashion Design in Womenswear at Central Saint Martins, that he won the Colin Barnes illustration award in 2003 and got his first commission illustrating a column in Harpers & Queen at the age of 21. While his early work was painstakingly detailed in pencil, it was legendary CSM tutor, Howard Tangye who encouraged him to pick up a brush, developing into the fast, loose inky style he’s known for today. “It supports the fluid line I already have and gets the mark down very quickly. It’s very bold and I love a bold statement.”

Since then, his career has exploded – in addition to his editorial work, Evernden now collaborates with brands like Charlotte Olympia, Burberry and even illustrated Graham Norton’s recent autobiography. He explains the current vogue for illustration as a reaction to the digital world – “I think things come in waves and we had a big digital tidal wave in the noughties. It’s got to that point where everything got too slick and too refined, too ironed out. People are trying to bring back a human feel, a soul into the page.”

The easy physicality of his  art has meant it has been a natural progression to work with animation, which started with a lovely GIF for Net-a-Porter and has developed into a full blown love of the medium, much of which can be experienced on his charming Instagram feed: “I’ve always been into movement and creating a vision. It gives me another avenue to bring things to life – I love making things leave the page and actually move. It’s something new for me and I’m learning all the time.”

Next in our Illustator series: Cédric Rivrain

Words by Kin Woo