Hi all, my name is Chloe. I am a fashion illustrator based in New York. I am originally from Japan and have 70K followers internationally (Instagram @chloetakahashi_illustrator , Redbook in China @chloetakahashi). While still in my earlier finance career, I decided to pursue my passion for art & fashion in my spare time, and then officially began working as a self-taught illustrator in 2021.
As an illustrator, I specialize in custom illustrations for fashion and beauty brands, editorials, and retailers, used for campaigns, installations, and consumer products. I also perform live guest sketching at weddings and corporate events for high-end brands. I have worked with Harry Winston, Porsche, Max Mara, Sabon and my work has been featured in the New York Times. You can learn more about my wedding live sketching and stationeries here.
My main art motif is chic and sophisticated, beautiful independent women like whom I myself aspire to be. My art is a good mixture of Asian and Western culture as a Japanese living in the US – a delicate line drawing and simple, timeless yet trend-conscious fashion that is eye-catching. I want my art to be a little something you can keep on your side that conveys positive and happy energy, even on a rainy day 🙂
How I launched my wedding line
Shortly after I started my Instagram account for fashion illustrations, I received quite a few commission requests in the wedding space, such as from wedding planners, wedding magazines, and brides-to-be for welcome signs etc. That’s when I realized my art style fits well with wedding themes. Not much time was needed to actually get the business running after that. First I posted a blog/LP on my website talking about my live drawing and custom illustration services. I spent some time on this as I wanted the page to deliver chic, feminine aesthetics and to differentiate from others. Then I figured out the order/payment flow as well as the contract. Luckily I immediately got inquiries and stationery orders after the launch via Instagram.
I remember my first customer was through my Instagram, even before the business was formally launched. I received a DM inquiring about a custom welcome sign, and she also wanted to use my illustration on invitations, table signs, and thank-you cards etc. It was so exciting that my love for art turned into a business. And I felt extremely honored that my client chose my art to be a part of their wedding – one of the most important days of their lives!
What was the game changer for my business?
The craziest thing that happened to me was getting my illustrations featured in a Japanese renowned wedding magazine 25ans. When I started drawing in my spare time, I never imagined my illustration would be on there after not even a year. After this feature, I started getting more and more magazine commissions. It truly felt surreal. I originally made the artworks for a wedding planner, and her service was featured in the magazine with my art. I simply enjoyed working with her and never thought it would lead to an opportunity like this – I am so grateful for all the wonderful people I have met through my artist journey and am amazed by how treasuring those connections can bring something so incredible.
Business owner vs. regular job
Before I quit my full-time job and officially started my illustrator career in 2021, I was actually in investment banking, working long hours for several years. I was in Excel spreadsheet 24/7, and hadn’t even touched a painting brush since I was a kid, although I was so passionate about art. I felt like I was trying so hard to be someone else to get good reviews while working in finance. I have zero regret making this transition but my earlier career path taught me work principles and business mindset which I’m really grateful for. I have no more big paychecks constantly coming, but I much prefer having 100% control and doing what is really “me” rather than having stability and minding how other people think of me. Being a business owner/artist definitely fits me as I am self-motivated and goal-driven, and I love creating! 🙂
A lesson I had to unlearn and the backstory
When working on commissions, I always try to cater to clients’ requests as much as possible. But when I overdo that, my illustration loses characters and doesn’t look as good. I realized that my goal is to make my clients happy but not always do as they say. They trust me when they give me the commission, so I should stick with my aesthetics and what I think is good. This learning process definitely gave me motivation to work harder on building my brand and distinctive style. It’s a forever ongoing process but it is so rewarding to see a lot of clients reach out to me, appreciating my chic and cheerful brand image.
Thank you for reading my post 🙂 Please feel free to contact me if you have any inquiries!