I've always been into fashion illustration though my style is not fashionable at all. It occurred to me that fashion illustration would be a superb starting point when I was about to prepare the illustrations for Jane Austen's Mansfield Park because her ladies feel beautiful and want to be beautiful.
I had much fun drawing the models in the fashion magazine. They not only look beautiful but also make me curious about them. Their eyes tell stories.
I focused particularly on how women read and write. However, these models appear to be very confident of themselves. They are worlds apart from the protagonist Fanny, but it was still nice for me to take a new try.
What is the novel about? Simply put, the good girl Fanny was sent to Mansfield Park to live with her rich aunt and uncle when she was little. She grew up together with her gentle cousin Edmund. With the arrival of the new characters, her life began to change. Edmund fell in love with the beautiful but snobbish girl Mary Crawford while her player brother fell for the charm of innocent Fanny, who had to suffer silently from seeing her beloved Edmund blindfolded by love and make every attempt to resist Henry in the meanwhile. Luckily, her virtue and perseverance finally won Edmund's heart.
Besides the three illustrations for the story, every contestant was required to design the cover as well and meet some specific rules. In fact, I wasn't sure if I could make it, but I didn't feel like giving up either. I was blessed with Alex's help so that I could reach my goal.
Fanny is an introverted and repressed role. She is probably the least confident heroine in Austen's books, but I can relate to her because I see much similarity between her and me.
Instead of placing emphasis on her interaction with the other characters, I prefer to feature her only in my illustrations. Apart from Edmund, she took solace in books, plants, and her personal space, the East room.
As is said in the book, Fanny feels ecstasy in a quiet way.
On the day when I finished the illustrations, I thought of the winter five years ago when I was studying in London. I was eager to borrow others' styles, so my tutor couldn't help asking, "Why didn't you use your own style?" Five years have gone by, and I am proud to be me when drawing. Whatever the outcome is, I am joyful all the same because I achieved what I couldn't in the past.