Punk rock on paper. Interview with American fashion illustrator Blair Breitenstein

4 min readDec 16, 2020

Blair Breitenstein is a well-known fashion illustrator from New York City. She creates artworks for Chanel, Oscar de la Renta, and Prada, and is a regular contributor to VOGUE and Vanity Fair. In an exclusive interview with the ARTLIFE ACADEMY, Blair spoke about the secret of a rapid career takeoff, self-confidence, the first illustration sold, the impression of a trip to Russia, and much more.

Blair Breitenstein

Tell us about your family: was someone related to art?

My grandpa was an artist: he actually worked as an illustrator with Walt Disney in 1950.

The brightest childhood memories?

I absolutely loved dancing when I was a child. If I wasn’t at a ballet class I was at home drawing from magazines.

Who do you consider your teachers in the profession?

I really look up Donald Robertson and David Downtown. David Downton’s book «Masters of Fashion Illustration» is essential to aspiring fashion illustrators.

Do you consider yourself successful? What is a success for you?

I do! I love my job which to me is as successful as you can get.

Why do your works so admire other people as you think?

I think because it is not perfect. My work shows that art can be fun, simple, and quick. Those faces don’t need to be perfect and proportions can be off yet you can still have a masterpiece.

Artworks by Blair Breitenstein

What qualities must an artist have in order to become successful?

Confidence. If you don’t share your work with others, no one will ever see it.

Do you like social networks?

I love Instagram!

Is it a part of the job?

Yes, Instagram is also like my portfolio for perspective clients.

Who do you subscribe to Instagram for, who do you follow?

Some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow feature pictures from the 50s, 60s, and 70s. They are a refreshing alternative to the repetitive content of modern fashion.

How long does it take to create one picture?

It is always different. It can take from 20 minutes to 2 hours!

Your work is compared to «punk rock on paper», and what kind of music inspires you?

I don’t listen to music when I paint. I like to listen to podcasts.

Where do you get energy for creativity?

I take breaks. When I travel, I like to leave my supplies at home. I think it is important to sometimes just be at the present and enjoy the moment.

Blair Breitenstein

What inspires you in other people?


Do you have a professional dream — a big project or a creative idea that you want to bring to life?

I would love to create a coffee table book.

What does participation in the ARTLIFE FEST 2019 meant to you?

I think this festival was a new step in my career. I have never been given the opportunity to teach and interact with so many other artists. And I was very happy to hear what people at the festival are most curious about.

Do you remember the first picture sold? Who bought it, how much did it cost? How was it, what feelings?

I used to sell my work for $25 on Etsy.com. I don’t remember, who it was, but I was truly honored and almost in disbelief that someone was willing to buy my art. But, this sale gave me the confidence to keep going.

What are they, your customers — can you describe them with three adjectives?

Creative, whimsical, independent.

If you were a fairy tale hero or superhero, who you want to be and why?

I don’t love fairytales or superheroes… I admire strong women who exist in this current time.

If there was a time machine, where would you go on it?

New York City in the ‘80s!

When do you feel happy?

I feel happy when I am surrounded by my best friends and a good meal.

Artwork by Blair Breitenstein

What could you advise aspiring artists?

Develop your own unique style. We are constantly surrounded by content and in order to be noticed you must stand out.

Blair Breitenstein has her own online course «Fashion Illustration» at ARTLIFE ACADEMY, so you can learn how to become a fashion illustrator from the beginning and create your stylish artworks for your portfolio.

Join the course to get inspiration for your creativity, learn new skills, and find out the artist’s way of fashion illustration.




It is professional education in drawing and painting in contemporary and traditional techniques from well-known and commercially successful artists