Guided by a stylist’s design, a finished garment, or his own style sense, Daniel Velasco transforms fashion into stunning watercolor visions. See more of his work on Instagram @d.velasco.
As art director of Bajo La Manga Boutique Creativa, Venezuela native Daniel Velasco developed ad campaigns for business giants like Energizer and Procter & Gamble. But these days, his clients are more couture than corporate. Transforming his favorite street and magazine looks into watercolor visions, the Mount Pleasant-based fashion illustrator creates beautiful art inspired by beautiful clothing. And when he’s not producing detailed menswear renderings for industry magazine MR or illustrating gowns for Middle Eastern designer Shady ZeinEldine (who’s dressed celebs from Lady Gaga to Madonna), he styles young minds as a fashion instructor at the Art Institute of Charleston. We caught up with Velasco, fresh off a gallery show at the Grand Bohemian Hotel, to talk shop.
A natural fit: My start in fashion illustration was almost accidental. I was halfway through my MFA in illustration at Savannah College of Art and Design, and the department chair—this great British illustrator named Allan Drummond—said, “I’ve seen your work. You have a keen eye for illustrating fabric. You pay a lot of attention to print. Why don’t you take a class in the fashion department?” I had a few electives left, so I took fashion sketch with a wonderful professor named Mengjie Di, and boom!
The process unveiled: I typically illustrate a garment once it’s complete, using the designer’s aesthetic as inspiration. Sometimes, when you see a beautiful dress illustrated in a magazine, that wasn’t the initial design sketch. It was commissioned later on.
Ladies first: I’ve had a fascination with the female form ever since I was a kid. Now, I get to draw beautiful girls in high heels and makeup. Flowy gowns are the most fun to illustrate because you can be so gestural. Menswear has its beauty but feels constricted with technical details.
Star quality: Katy Perry’s personal stylist has these amazing ideas, but he has a hard time drawing, so he has me sketch his vision and then shows that to designers. I also did two red-carpet looks for Bella Thorne.
Runway debut: Charleston Fashion Week 2015 was great—I partnered with Ryan Workman for the Emerging Designer Competition. I hand-painted all the fabrics for our presentation, and since Ryan was busy in school, I also got to construct some of the garments.
Curtain call: My dream is to design for Broadway or ballet—I would love to do The Nutcracker or Sleeping Beauty. With costume design, you’re less restricted by trends, and you get to play with a narrative. Fashion is all about drama. You want to capture something that’s beautiful and sad and melancholy and elegant all at the same time.