Sitting in the audience of a New York fashion show, among the expected fashion writers and photographers, you find illustrator Kris Keys using ink and watercolor to tell the story. In only a few minutes, a vibrant sketch emerges that catches the spirit of the event as it happens.
As a sought-out illustrator, Kris has sketched at fashion week for WGSN, a fashion trend website, while also using her degree in fashion merchandising. In her two years in New York City, she interned with designer Trina Turk and bridal designer Jussara Lee. In 2011, she made a big move to London to take a course in the foundation of fashion, be inspired by another fashion mecca, and continue to create her signature sketches. Many times gracing the audience as an observer, Kris wants her artistry to one day take the stage.
Today, Kris is making another leap in pursuing her dream as a fashion designer. When I finally caught up with her in Memphis, her hometown, she was once again bound for London in less than a week to study Fashion Design and Development at the London College of Fashion.
After missing several live portrait events she organized as part of her effort to fund her tuition, I met Kris for lunch at the Beauty Shop where she also demonstrated her illustration skills between bites of her salad.
In the setting of the chic restaurant interior, Kris was perched comfortably at the bar in a bold patterned dress by Trina Turk. She talked about her love for color and quality pieces that are "actually designed and not retail mainstream."
When we were seated at a table, she covered the surface with pencils, markers, an impressive tray of watercolor paints, and examples of her beautiful sketches. Pulling inspiration from different cultures while traveling the world, she also has taken much of her inspiration from Memphis - its rawness, its art and music scene, and its Sunday mornings when women style big hats and matching shoes.
Looking ahead, she sees her clothing collection as vibrant yet soft, fashion-forward, and a straight extension of her illustration work. On her path to building her fashion career, you will still see her sketching, never losing herself as an artist.
You can support Kris by donating to her tuition fund through her gofundme.com page. She is close to reaching her goal.
Find out more about Kris and her work at her website: bykriskeys.com.