Francesco Lo Iacono is an Italian full-time illustrator whose career has taken him from Palermo to London and now France.
With a distinguished skill in live drawing, he usually works from his home studio or at shows during Fashion Week. He has worked with a wide range of clients including fashion designers, high-end department stores and fashion magazines.
His first book, 'Watercolor Fashion Illustration', was published by David&Charles in 2021. In addition, he is represented by Lipstick of London. Francesco uses Copic with watercolors to create his amazing works.
“I hope someone will get inspired by my illustrations,
just like Copic keeps inspiring me everyday”
Could you please tell us your career story and background?
I was born and raised in Italy, where I studied Fine Arts. After I graduated, I started to travel, and I lived for a while in Paris where I worked in a trend forecasting agency. Around the same time, I started taking my interest in fashion illustration more seriously and that's when I decided to make it my full-time job.
When did you feel interested in drawing for the first time? What is your motivation to draw?
Like many creatives, I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. I started as a kid, filling up my schoolbooks, and once I was a teenager, I decided to study Fine Arts. I think my motivation has changed over the years.
As a fashion illustrator today, I love the challenge to work on a project with a team of creatives or art directors, or more generally I like to fulfill the vision and needs of my clients.
Why did you choose to draw fashion illustrations? And what is your motivation to enter?
I think I can say that my interest in fashion was late. As I mentioned, I studied Fine Arts and it was only by the end of my last year in school that I started getting interested in fashion and it was actually through photography. I am a huge fan of dreamy fashion editorials in magazines; it is a great inspiration and in a way, it pushed me to pursue a career in fashion illustration. Quite simply, fashion illustration became the perfect and natural platform to explore all of my interests at that time. And it still is.
“Fashion illustration became the perfect and natural platform
to explore all of my interests.”
How have you developed your art skills up to now?
Practicing is key to my way of working and I think it's really important. I think my style has been consistent even though it is slowly evolving. When I look at my past illustrations, I can sense how far I have come, and I can't wait to see what's coming next for me.
How do you mix and match Copic and watercolors in your artwork so well? How do you use Copic and watercolors together?
I mostly use the Copic Ciao markers. I think they are perfect for my kind of work, there are so many shades, and they are so very delicate. And they blend perfectly with watercolors. On a general basis, I use watercolors first, to create the first layer. Once the watercolor has dried, I then sometimes use the Copic Ciao Markers to accentuate some parts or to add more details. There are no fixed rules. Sometimes I use exclusively watercolors, sometimes I like to work with Copic. When I work to live, during an event or a fashion show, I do prefer using Copic with watercolors. I sometimes need to wait for it to dry and when working live, time can be, of course, slightly limited.
“Sometimes I use exclusively watercolors,
sometimes I like to work with Copic.”
There are lots of famous high-end brands that are captivated by your works. What do you think is your unique point that gets clients interested in working with you?
I like to believe that if a brand approaches me, it's of course because of my style. It's what makes my work unique. I think my work has a certain aesthetic that can match the aesthetics of some brands while I cannot necessarily meet the visual needs of other ones.
“I like to fulfill the vision and needs of my clients”
I heard that your first book was published last year. Could you please talk about it?
Yes, I released my first book, 'Watercolor Fashion Illustration' a few months ago. It's a complete guide for illustrating fashion and figures in watercolors and in the most practical way, it honestly depicts my practice and way of working. I offer my guidance, advice and plenty of useful tips. I worked on it for several months and I tried my best to make it the truest and most resourceful book about watercolor and fashion illustration.
I think it's quite versatile, on one hand, it's a full technical guide about watercolor, on the other hand, it approaches the world of fashion by offering professional ideas and concrete advice. The book introduces all the materials that I use, and there's an overview to draw the human body with a focus on the face and its features. There’s also a chapter that shows how to reproduce fabrics and prints.
The middle part of the book consists of twenty step-by-step tutorials that explore womenswear, menswear, accessories, make-up, and more.
The last part gives more practical tips about being an illustrator, including much information on how to render your work digitally.
When and why did you start using Copic? And please tell us your first impressions of using Copic.
I think I started using them around the time when I wanted to evolve my style. I think that new mediums can always push how we can create and get us in new and exciting directions. I think what first struck me was the softness that Copic Ciao markers are known for. They blend nicely with watercolors and allowed me to get similar results quite quickly. That's why I often use them when working live, as I mentioned earlier.
Please describe how Copic can encourage your career growth and work.
I think Copic markers helped me work on the details of my illustrations far better. It gave me the chance to work layer by layer, having full control and tapping into more refined results.
Finally, do you have any message for Copic fans around the world?
Copic has a wonderful community, and I am more than happy to let everyone discover my work through this interview. I hope someone will get inspired by my illustrations, just like Copic keeps inspiring me every day!