How would you describe your personal style?
"Controlled chaos. I like things loud and brash, but in a deliberate way that makes my outfit feel interesting, rather than 'what is she wearing?' I like to create characters to dress to, so my ultimate style character would be a former ballerina with a mysterious past who marries a rapper and they inherit an estate and move to the countryside."
How do you decide what to wear?
"I start with a piece, whether it’s a skirt or a shoe or whatever. I’m a huge fan of variety, so it’s a fun way to push myself when I reach for things in the back of the closet and ask, 'How could I wear this now, on a Tuesday, at 9 a.m.?' But obviously I do that by wearing it with things that I wear pretty much daily."
Tell us about your path to becoming a full-time illustrator. When and how did you realize you loved drawing?
"I’ve been a drawer and a doodler my whole life. So when I (inadvertently) went on a creative hiatus both [during] and post-college, I was really starved for that feeling you get when you make something with your hands. When I committed to sitting down and drawing every day for a blog, creating art not only turned out to be this thing that I could get completely absorbed in, losing all track of time — the best kind of focus, you know? — it also proved that when you sit down and make yourself do something every day, you really can teach yourself something amazing."
Were you nervous to leave your 9-to-5?
"Though my decision to jump off the cliff of self-employment wasn’t entirely just my own, I had been lining up my ducks for months beforehand. It’s like they say, the best way to get a date is to have a date, so I was lucky to have established connections and regular freelance jobs while I was still hot in my last post. Also, I have a crazy collection of talented allies around me — former colleagues and bosses, old and new friends — who have given me advice and skills that made me feel that when the time came, I was both terrified and prepared.
What's your artistic method like? How do you know what you want to draw?
"It is seriously whatever comes to my mind. Since it takes me at least two hours to make a sketch, I’ve been very conscious of letting the whole process just be easy and free...I don’t force it. The second it stops being fun, I don’t want to do it anymore! Of course, I have a very large closet from which to derive pleasure, and yes, sometimes I have to go on weeklong drawing benders to meet a deadline. But really, it’s a blessing to call myself an artist while watching my pile of full leather Moleskine sketchbooks grow."
Your room is adorable! What are your tips for creating a space that's a true reflection of your sensibilities?
"I am a supremely conflicted person, because I feel bad about having 'stuff' yet I really love looking at pretty things. So, the rule is, only accumulate what you really love, whether it's seashells or street signs (Or shoes! This also applies to the closet). Explore local junk shops, secondhand stores, and budget places like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls, for stuff that makes [an] IKEA dresser look like your IKEA dresser."
What do you call yourself? Artist, illustrator, fashion illustrator, sketch artist — something else?
"Ah, I still haven’t completely settled this question. Right now, when I meet someone in a bar, and, since it’s D.C. and the second question anyone asks is 'What do you do?' I go for 'freelance fashion illustrator.' Or sometimes I go for the teaser, which is 'self employed.'"
What's the community in D.C. like for people who do what you do?
"Amazing. I feel like I’m only just exploring the possibilities, really! D.C. has a very welcoming yet robust creative scene — it seems like everyone and their mom has some side hustle or passion. I love that the fashion bloggers I know are also accountants, scientists, Ph.D.s, etc. When I first started out, I considered my blog to be solely about putting in 'alone time,' it’s so cool that today I am constantly stimulated by new connections."
"Can I be real and say that I’d like to be living a lot less paycheck-to-paycheck? But seriously, I’d like to see my work in a lot more places — books, ads, print — I’m thinking large-scale here. It’s incredible that we live in a digital age that allows for these spontaneous meetups and moments where you meet someone, click, and decide to collaborate. Those opportunities push me to be better, and they give me space to play. I hope to continue having a hell of a time!"
What's your favorite local boutique? Any secret spots you love?
"I have crazy good luck finding cashmere for practically nothing at Secondi. Plus, their staff is great. And even though this isn’t shopping — the best place for a wax and a mani-pedi is Semi at Headliner Hair Salon! You’ll thank me later."
Favorite style-related thing you own? "I have to choose just one? Okay, fine. It would be my mom’s old T-shirt that she got from the 1979 Symposium on Humanity. It says 'God Bless Detroit' and has a picture of my home state looking all fly and properly aged. My mom gave it to me when I was probably 13 and it has traveled around the entire world with me, gone on every single trip. I treasure it for the fact that both she and I have made really good memories while rocking it."
Describe your dream day in D.C.
"To be specific, this is during the best time of year in D.C., the spring. Sundays have to be my favorite days, so I would start this dream day the night before, on a Saturday evening. My girls and I would have gotten into trouble starting somewhere around Stoney’s and ending up somewhere near Solly’s. When I wake up the next morning, magically not hungover, I walk to Big Bear (just blocks from my house!) for an americano with foam before shopping the farmer's market for picnic snacks, and since this is my dream day, there would be local peaches even though it’s still spring. I come home and make myself an amazing breakfast — best meal of the day —before reuniting with my best ladies for a trip to the National Arboretum. Since I’m the only one with a car, I pick them up and we make the drive listening to my favorite radio station, 93.9, and again, since this is my dream day, my favorite radio jock Angie Ange would be on the mic. Anyway, we get to the Arb and walk the whole place, rehashing the gossip from the night before [while] picnicking next to the National Herb Garden. We leave just as it’s getting dark, and then, since we are once again hungry from walking, we head to dinner at Beau Thai for curries and white wine. Then, I head home to have a productive hour of drawing before watching a new episode of Jersey Shore. Dream day!"
Photographed by Caroline Lacey