Lee and Christina have known each other for over two decades, first becoming friends while they both worked in the Art Department at Australian Vogue. Despite Christina relocating to New York via Paris over 10 years ago, the two kept in touch and LM’s recent collaboration with Christina on our Resort 19 Campaign could be seen as a reflection of their relationship – 'something entirely new and at the same time familiar, like how you feel when you talk to an old friend'.
Christina’s ink and paint illustrations are composed of expertly simple lines in vivid colour combinations. Her works are a celebration of colour, in the same way a young child may dress themselves given the rare opportunity - naive pops of orange, emerald, pink and blue all clash and sing unexpectedly in perfect harmony. She paints from her kitchen table in the Brooklyn Brownstone she lives in with her husband and two children, and when she needs a break she has cup of tea in the garden.
Earnest, familiar but always with a sense of adventure - Christina cites domesticity, nature and Matisse as influences on her work. She draws flowers with joyous plump contours that give them instant personalities, and her portraits shrewdly capture tiny idiosyncrasies despite the elementariness of her lines.
Christina describes her relatively new career in painting as her ‘third act’, after a successful metier working in publishing as Art Director for Australian Vogue, and in the fashion photography world alongside her husband Patric Shaw. In just two years of painting she has collaborated with Michael Kors, Maison Kitsune, and the 2018 CFDA Awards commissioned her to paint the portraits of the 30 Nominees and Honorees. Her paintings have been exhibited in New York, San Franciso, Paris and Sydney.
Where did you study?
Western Australian Institute of Technology (now known as Curtin University), I majored in Graphic Design and Photography.
What attracted you to illustration and art?
I’ve always loved art, particularly painting but I was always someone who commissioned art not made it. The corny question of what is your passion - honestly not many things are as important to me than art so I figured I better try to do that. My son Alexander and my husband Patric encouraged me to jump in. Instagram gave me an anonymous platform to experiment and to come out of hiding.
You worked in publishing for many years, how has illustration evolved over time?
I started in publishing in the early eighties..in fact that was a similar time to today creatively. People experimented, photographers and illustrators. I grew up on Francois Bertaud, Mats Gustafson, Tony Viramontes and Lei Magazine, Italian Vogue, Vanity. Fashion illustration was always in the mix in the most interesting magazines - it’s exciting to see illustration having a moment again.
What inspires you daily?
People - I live in a highly populated city, people are everywhere and you see things you could never make up. I love it!
What mediums do you work in? How do you plan a piece?
When I work on paper I usually work in ink and acrylic - to get extra depth of colour I sometimes add digital colour blocks. I also love making pencil drawings as they can be so expressive. But my true love is oil painting - I try to do that as much as possible as it’s new to me, it suits my fluid lines and I can wipe off mistakes and keep layering. It’s difficult and meditative. I love how things emerge unexpectedly.
As far as planning, I get an idea and I like to explore it, particularly on paper. It’s usually something cinematic - an image - or from nature, things I’ve seen stick in my head. Paintings are harder but I try to be fresh with those too, figures look different on canvas , I’m working on that.
For you, what brings you joy and happiness?
Family is pretty much everything to me, I am blessed to have a challenging bunch of guys around me , they are tough critics but they are honest and loving.
Your work sings with colour so harmoniously, but also has an off-beat sensibility. What is your relationship with colour?
That’s another thing that has hung around since childhood- color! I have such strong memories of the sixties and seventies- browns and pinks and Kelly green. Red stockings and boots. Wallpaper, pop art, music. It was a very exciting time visually. Plus the Fauvists and their color sense, I love it all.
How long have you been living in NYC? What is it about the city that makes it like no other?
I’ve been here with Patric and the boys for 21 years, I can’t believe it! It’s home and it’s not. People say New York has an energy and they are right. It’s addictive, and I wish I could keep up with it! We live in Brooklyn so we have a garden and neighbours, it’s a normal life, but get on the subway and in 10 minutes it’s not normal and there’s so much to do.
See more of Christina's work here > christinazimpel.com
Follow her instagram here > @christinazimpel