How artist Stephanie Gentry turned her passion into a profession.
When Atlanta-based fashion designer and illustrator Stephanie Gentry was told by her former boss, “If you can’t find work, make it for yourself,” that’s exactly what she did. She hasn’t looked back since.
Though the Chamblee-born creative grew up drawing, she first went head over heels with what’s become her signature artistic style— fashion illustrations—during her time at SCAD’s Atlanta campus, where she spent countless, and oftentimes sleepless, hours perfecting the intricate art of illustrating human figures via foundation figure-drawing classes.
While she dabbled in other areas to discover her niche, Gentry says she just kept being drawn back to fashion illustration for its whimsical and creative nature. “About five years ago, when I was trying to figure out what it is that I want to put out in the world, I did a lot of work with a life coach that helped me home in on the ‘why’ for my brand. Fashion illustration was really speaking to me.”
These days, Atlantans can spot Gentry at the city’s most stylish events, where she is hired to provide live fashion sketches for guests and deliver each one in under 10 minutes. The energetic entrepreneur has become a staple at fashion-forward fetes, such as Star 94.1’s Little Black Dress Party, held last year at Buckhead Theatre; Global Runway Atlanta’s annual fashion show, presented each spring at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; The Blog Societies’ annual conference in Atlanta; and RAGTRADE ATLANTA’s annual fall fashion show at Georgia Freight Depot, which sparked her next big career move.
Her latest artistic undertaking is a partnership with RAGTRADE that’s resulted in a full-blown collaboration with the local e-commerce brand. Dubbed ‘Street Style’ Capsule Collection by RAGTRADE x Stephanie Gentry, the cozy-chic collection boasts a series of T-shirts and hoodies from $23 that flaunt fashionable sketches by Gentry and are available online through RAGTRADE. “I’m always inspired by architect Frank Gehry. That’s where I got the inspiration for a lot of the layering and ruffle details,” she says, noting that the inspiration behind each sketch is meant to highlight photo-worthy moments event goers might experience at Atlanta Fashion Week.
Another major focus of the collection is diversity, something that’s extremely important to both Gentry and RAGTRADE. Women of all races, body types and clothing styles are featured in her illustrations. While the typical style of fashion illustrations often exaggerates the human figure as elongated and thin, Gentry gives the women in her sketches fuller figures to ensure inclusivity throughout her work. “One of the big things [RAGTRADE founder Angela Watts and I] have been consistent about from the beginning is being really inclusive with the illustrations,” she explains.
What else fuels Gentry’s creative passion? One look at her Instagram feed and the answer is clear: fashion designers, from Chanel and Dior to Iris van Herpen. “Fashion, to me, is like art, so when I see how someone else expresses their art, it inspires me to find my own,” Gentry says.
The advice she’d give to budding artists looking to kickstart their career is much like the words her boss told her years ago: “Figure out what art means for you and how you can channel that into the world.”
Stephanie Gentry Art
STORY: Taylor Heard
Simply Buckhead is an upscale lifestyle magazine focused on the best and brightest individuals, businesses and events in Buckhead, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Chamblee. With a commitment to journalistic excellence, the magazine serves as the authority on who to know, what to do and where to go in the community, and its surroundings.