This is what happened when we sent an acclaimed fashion illustrator to Fan Expo
The best street style in Toronto is actually cosplay. See it come to life through illustrated GIFs
It's the first day of Fan Expo Canada. The country's largest comics/sci-fi/you-name-it convention has descended on downtown Toronto once again, and caped crusaders and giant robots are mingling with plainclothes fanboys and girls — like Jocelyn Teng.
By day, Teng's a fashion designer for Roots. By night — or whenever she has the time, really — she's an illustrator, one whose luxury-brand clients include Louis Vuitton and Lancome. During Toronto Fashion Week, her favourite place is the tents, where she sketches the runway looks as fast as she can, and her impressions have run in The Kit and Flare, though she's been doing it for kicks since her school days at Ryerson.
This is Teng's first time live sketching at a fan convention, though. CBC Arts pitched the idea, and Teng jumped at the chance — maybe unsurprising given all the drawings of droids on her Instagram.
"I think if you ask a designer where they get their inspiration, it comes from anywhere," she says. "If people are wearing something, it's fashion." And looking out at the dozens of Harley Quinns and Batmen roaming the floor, Teng laughs: "I wish the Toronto fashion scene had this kind of support."
At any given Toronto Fashion Week — which was recently cancelled due to a lack of funding — you'd find a handful of "fashionistas," the guests who dress to be seen and, fingers crossed, Instagrammed.
I wish the Toronto fashion scene had this kind of support.- Jocelyn Teng , fashion illustrator
Teng wishes those style scenesters could bring it like the Fan Expo crowd — in sheer numbers if nothing else. Compared to them, the cosplay contingent is an army — Imperial and otherwise — and they provide a street-style spectacle for media outlets year after year. (To wit, please see CBC News.)
She's just dashed off a sketch of a cosplayer with a wig the colour of goldfish crackers when another fan causes her to rubberneck. The girl in question is blasting a Stormtrooper with toy bullets — but that's not what grabs Teng's attention.
Live-sketching fashion is a special sort of challenge, Teng explains, and it's one she loves more than any other illustration gig.
"For me, because you have 10 seconds per outfit, it's really about the feeling and the colour. It's not about the detail," she says.
It's not really about the clothes. [...] You're trying to capture that — that energy.- Jocelyn Teng , fashion illustrator
"Oh, he's so creepy it's awesome," she says, spotting an unusually dapper Joker cosplayer in a lineup, a sort of Clown Prince William of Crime.
That's why, according to her, the art form is having a moment. Sketching fashion shows might be an old-fashioned form of reporting — a throwback to the days before photo pits — but it's a skill that can make you Instagram famous. If we're just throwing around the Canadian examples, Toronto's Meagan Morrison, Jamie Lee Reardin and Donald Robertson are all social-media stars — though all three are now based in the States. In Teng's case, she says she landed her highest-profile clients through social media.
When you consider more than 100,000 people will be wandering around Fan Expo this weekend — along with their phones — the same principle applies.
And after 40 minutes on the floor, Teng says she's sold on live-sketching cosplayers again.
"I don't look at this and think, 'Oh, this isn't fashion.' It's just a different kind of fashion. It's still a feeling I'm trying to capture, right?"
See more of Jocelyn Teng's work at her website, www.wallnine.com.
Fan Expo Canada. To Sept. 4, Metro Toronto Convention Centre. www.fanexpocanada.com.