Angelica has won over many with her cheeky puns that nudge at the fashion industry. She has an unmistakable yet playful aesthetic that jump started her career as an illustrator. Over the course of only a couple years, she has collaborated with Net-A-Porter, Missoni, SoHo House Berlin, Vogue UK, and many others. Also, she just published her first book and it's available now for preorder!
This interview took place between Tate and Angelica at her apartment in New York
Editor: Pamela Ibanez
TVPS: Starting off, how did you get to where you are today?
AH: I was in my last semester of university, and I was under quite a lot of academic pressure. I was in that kind of weird mentality where you're like, "I can't go out and have fun because I need to be studying," but I couldn’t study all the time, and I was going crazy sitting in the library, so I just started doing these drawings. Turns out I was much more creative than I allowed myself to be.
Then my sister's birthday was coming up, and I had no money to get her something, but I had these watercolors that were just sitting around. So I made her a book that was like this cautionary tale for turning 18. After I thought, “This is really fun!”
So I continued drawing, mostly little comic books or jokes and then fashion week came around, so I did some drawings responding to that because I thought, “This is so funny. People love to laugh at fashion, people in fashion love to laugh at it. Everyone loves to laugh.” Then that sort of became my routine: wake up, draw, library draw and then to bed. I have to say, it’s really what got me through school.
How do most of your collaborations come about?
People either DM or email me or contact my agents directly. Actually, I have a book coming out in April which initially started from a DM. This girl who is now my publisher, sent me a message with a picture of her business card in it to basically say “I’m not a weirdo, I’m legit.”
How did you go about developing your aesthetic?
I was talking about this with my mom the other day, and she was saying “Oh, you’ve always drawn this way. If you look through everything you’ve given me, it’s always been very linear, and you always like the black line” Which is interesting because I hadn’t even noticed. But yeah it’s always somewhat simplified and then I have a few staples, I like to draw the top quarter of a person, and I’m a huge fan of cheekbones.
Also, my sister and I were always encouraged to draw as our parents didn’t want us to buy them presents because they were like we could just buy it ourselves, draw something. So basically, drawing has always been a part of my life in one way or another. Recently I’ve been painting with acrylic, but that’s just for me. I definitely have a strong aesthetic preference.
So your illustrations have evolved into a brand, do you make a conscious effort to separate your personal self from the Angelica Hicks brand?
I do separate myself, there is an element of me, but I like keeping my Instagram just drawings. I wouldn’t be like “Here’s my friends and me at the bar”.
Also since my profile picture is a drawing, some people who have met me are like, "Oh I thought you'd be like 50" Okay, no. One person once said, "Oh my god I thought you'd be 15." Which to me was more flattering than the first because I’m like "What about my drawings makes me seem old!?"
No I think it’s because you have such a strong and developed aesthetic, which takes most people a longer time to create.
It makes me so happy when people recognize when something's me. I did a drawing for this podcast and my name wasn’t next to my work but loads of friends screen grabbed pictures of it and were like, "Hey is this you?" I was like, "That is so cool.”
What interests you about pop culture?
I think its influence over everything is pretty fascinating. I know so much without actively reading any magazines or going on any websites. I think it’s crazy how pop culture can seep into your brain.
Yea, you’ll get half the story from Instagram and other half from a friend.
Exactly! I just feel that people are more pop culturally informed than they are about other culture. Like what is so interesting about the Kardashians? Why does everyone have this need to know about their lives? I think that’s super intriguing.
What’s your creative process?
I can’t explain how an idea comes to me. I have a notes section on my phone but I don’t really revisit it because I think of new ideas everyday. Occasionally I’ll go through the list though and be like “Oh, this was actually a really good one.”
Then when it’s fashion week I’ll go on Vogue.com and see what crazy thing has happened or I’ll respond to the shows. When Christopher Kane did his show last September with the model wearing Crocs I was like, “Oh, what’s up Croc.” That was instant. I didn’t force it because it’s a joke, you can’t force a joke.
And Grace Cloggington? That has to be my favorite.
Pandora Sykes when she was at the Sunday Times Style Magazine asked me to illustrate their back page and then that ended up turning into a feature on me, which was really cool.
Anyways, she gave me the names of people to draw and I was like, “I’ve done Grace Coddington and I don’t want to recycle,” but then I thought, “Grace Coddington. Grace Cloggington!” and I thought her hair would look good with those Gucci shoes with the fur that were coming out.
I remember when you posted it! Your Instagram is actually a really big conversation starter.
Yeah I see friends tagging friends saying “Have you seen this one?” I can tell which followers are groups of friends, which is also really cool. They’ll tag each other and I’ll notice the same names popping up that I’ve noticed before. I like making people laugh!
Then circling back to your collaborations, what was your creative process for the British Vogue animation?
Yeah so for that I worked with the director, Sophie. We had worked together before when we did something for Semaine, which was my first animation. For Semaine and British Vogue we worked with an animator. But for Missoni’s Christmas, I animated that myself. I personally prefer the stop-starty way that that worked in with my drawings. The problem with animation is that I can’t really animate. I can but on Photoshop, which means creating literally 380 slides. Which is a lot.
When you were working with an animator, how did you two work together, what's the collaboration like?
Never met. I’d send over slides and then they’d link the video together. I had to send over every different motion the character would make, they’d be like “Can you send me an open mouth?” and I would quickly do a little drawing.
You grew up in London and then you came to New York, did living between the two cities influence your work or give you a different perspective?
Perhaps. One of the most noticeable things it that London is more, in some respects, authentic but I knew that it would be harder to actually maintain myself and be able to pay for living in London. Even the few jobs I was doing in London were just- I don’t know how I was supposed to survive. Definitely moving to New York allowed me to be self-sufficient. It was like a fresh start. New experiences, new city, new things. In that respect it was very inspiring because I was surrounded by all this newness.
So you come from a family that’s super creative. Did that inspire you growing up?
It was a complete blessing to have artistic parents because most kids on summer holidays would kick a ball outside with their dad. My dad’s not the sporty type, he’d be like “Let’s all sit inside and draw.” It’s easy to forget that my parents were key for me forming a strong aesthetic at an early age because they exposed me to so much. I can say purely from an aesthetic point of view, "Don't like it, like it." It is a huge gift because it’s quite bold to say your opinion in that respect.
How has the influx of digital media changed fashion illustration?
I think it's been so great for it. I wasn't really aware of it before but it has allowed everyone to showcase their work and make it accessible to anyone. For example, I did a drawing of Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid and they both regrammed it because I tagged them and, by chance, one of them happened to see it which I think that's so cool. Digital media gives you potential access to anyone, the coolest word of mouth is the explore page.
What's been one of your favorite projects that you've worked on?
I really liked doing the Missoni animated Christmas card because they gave me free reign. I’m always really lucky with my projects; I’m given a lot of free reign. I also designed a chocolate bar for The Soho House Shop in Berlin, which was really cool.
You’ve done work for Net-a-Porter and Teen Vogue’s Amy Astley, how did those go?
Porter was one of the first jobs I did, which was doing illustrations for them throughout New York Fashion Week in September 2015 and then doing them on a weekly basis. That lasted for a bit and was really fun.
With Amy Astley, I did a drawing of her and she made it her profile picture on Instagram. There was a little speech bubble that I did on the corner of the drawing and I sent her a direct message being like , “Hey, thank you much for making it your profile picture. Here’s a version without the speech bubble so you don’t have a weird black thing in the corner of your picture.” She was like, “Thank you so much, I’d love to buy the original.” Obviously I went to One World Trade and gave it to her for free.
Do you have a dream collaboration?
Yes with Five Guys or Duane Reade, something so mundane or bizarre that I’ve never done. I like mixing high end with the necessities in life, so something like that. Actually Five Guys DM’d me the other day asking to repost my Chanel Number Five Guys so that’s a start.
What does success look like to you? Do you have a timeline for it?
I think success is, first of all, loving what you do and getting to work on projects with people that inspire you. Just being really, really, really happy with the work that you're doing and producing.
Who do you look up to?
Diana Vreeland for sure. I think the really cool thing about her is that she got the whole you can’t buy style, fashion is attainable for anyone. She also appreciated beauty in everything as opposed to trends.
Is the Why Don’t You column on your site inspired by her?
It is, it is.
I love that!
I also really look up to people who use their position or influence for good, like model Adwoa Aboah. She started Gurls Talk which is a small community focused on providing a space for girls to discuss issues that perhaps they don’t feel comfortable discussing. I think it’s really cool to front something like Gurls Talk as opposed to fronting a brand.
Would you one day want to do something like that?
I would. I don't know how to, I've been actually thinking about that quite recently. I was lucky that I was able to have a little bit of time after I graduated in which I was still supported by my parents and I was able to take risks that I may not have been able to take otherwise. I’m so aware that people don’t make enough money necessarily to live in Manhattan and it would be cool if other people could have the security I had. Something like that would interest me, I don’t know how I would go about approaching it though.
What was one of your biggest learning experiences?
Free the nipple. It was one of the craziest misinterpretations because I got all this hate because I was accused of imposing my ideology upon Frida Kahlo, who was not herself a feminist. It just became so layered. I was like, “Look at the context,” I’m not imposing my ideology. I wasn’t spearheading her as the leader of the movement. Grace Coddington is not a Clog or a Cod Fish for that matter either.
Did you learn anything from that experience though?
First of all, don't get into arguments online. Then second of all, don't get offended, not everyone is always going to like what you do. You can't make everyone laugh and online things can be de-contextualized. People come for the joke and then obviously the joke sometimes has to be moderated because we live in a very PC day and age in which things can be grossly misinterpreted.
What is your take on our generation and where do you think we’re headed?
I think we're headed to a place where people are enjoying more and more what they do. People are understanding that there aren't just certain career paths, certain molds that you have to pursue, you can actually create your job and do anything. What I do like about this generation is, creatively, there does seem to have been a bit of a return to the handmade. Even hand drawn illustrations being popular on Instagram is crazy because Instagram was created as a platform in which to share photos, not illustrations. It's quite nice because I think handmade is quite distinct, you can't copy and paste because we all have different hands.
What advice would you give to someone who looks up to you?
Don’t be afraid and have confidence in what you do because if you don’t believe in your work, other people won't either. I strongly believe that creating something, writing, painting, whatever it is, gives an immense about of joy, so don’t play it safe, no harm in trying it out if you have an idea.