Spotlight On: Cristina Tudor
Cristina Tudor is a Los Angeles live artist and illustrator. She creates one-of-a-kind experiences and lasting memories at weddings and events in fashion, retail and entertainment by capturing the moment on the spot, with her live fashion illustration and portraits.
1. You made the brave choice to swap architecture for illustration. What was it that made your mind up about making that career switch?
During my 15-year practice as an architect, I was drawing by hand a lot as part of my process of designing buildings at work, and I was painting watercolor fashion illustration and portraits in my spare time, in a much more intuitive way, without following any rules, as a way to relax and to recharge creatively. After a few years of painting, I slowly started to wonder what it would be like if I could just paint all day, every day, for a living. It was an exciting thought, but it seemed like such an impossible dream. Could I really do that? Coming from a corporate world where I was so used to working in a structured environment, where I knew what to expect from my career path, this new direction was so organic, so completely opposite, it seemed almost foolish.
And so, for years I kept dreaming of becoming a full-time artist, but I gave myself countless excuses why not to do it: I had student loans, I couldn’t afford to change my career course, I wasn’t a good enough artist … Eventually I grew tired of being afraid to go after something I really wanted to do, so I started to plan for it as much as I could. I paid off my student loans, saved up, kept painting to improve my skills, stopped listening to my inner critic who was telling me I wasn’t good enough to be doing this …
And one day I realized I ran out of excuses. I asked myself: what are you waiting for? Life is just passing you by and you’re still only dreaming and not doing. It’s now or never. Once I realized fear was the only thing left holding me back, I made the choice to trust my intuition and to follow it into the unknown.
2. Why live illustration rather than regular illustration?
This is an interesting question, because I think of myself as an introvert. When I was growing up, I got lost for hours in my own world, in my room, constantly creating, drawing, and designing my own clothes and jewelry. Even in class, I was more interested in drawing princesses in gowns and tiaras in my notebooks, mixed in with my class notes. Creating was my way of connecting to my inner self, to my own emotions, and I was doing it in such an intuitive and therapeutic way.
So, what’s an introvert doing painting live, in front of people? Painting live is my way of connecting with my clients, my way of making an emotional impact with my art. When guests first see their painting at an event, they have a spontaneous and authentic reaction. I can see who they are in that moment, I can feel their hopes and dreams as their faces light up with pure joy. I love being able to make that experience happen for them with my paintings, in an instant! It’s something I know they’ll remember for a long time, and every time they look at their painting, they’ll remember how good they felt in that moment. It’s such a personal, yet universal reaction, and I never get tired of seeing that. It only makes me want to paint live even more!
3. What’s the best part about live illustrating at events?
The best part about live illustrating at events is being there in person to witness my clients’ reaction to my painting, to see the look of pure joy on someone’s face when they first see their portrait and to know they’ll always remember that snapshot in time and the story behind it. It feels amazing to know that long after the wonderful day is done, a painting I created in the moment can capture and bring back many happy memories for years to come! I feel honoured to be able to give that experience to someone, and it makes me very happy to do it.
4. Where do you draw your inspirations from?
I find inspiration in so many places, I feel like there’s never enough time to paint everything I want to paint. Everywhere I turn, I find something that catches my eye. I’m most inspired by the human face, body angles and fashion. Painting someone live is always a great inspiration for me, I love capturing the essence of the human face and figure in an instant, the flow of fabric around the body, an interesting pose full of energy. Eyes are probably my favorite subject to paint, so every time I see a face with expressive eyes, I just have to paint them.
I get very inspired by minimal and clean lines in art, design, fashion and interiors. Minimal Instagram fashion accounts like @jennymustard and @caroline_joy and magazines focused on minimalism, especially The Bare Minimum, are some of my favorite sources of inspiration. I also follow fashion magazines like Vogue, Elle and InStyle because they’re always up to date on fashion trends and their editorial content is so well curated.
Weddings are one of my favorite subjects to paint because they’re like real life fairy tales. I get inspired by wedding publications such as The Knot and Brides magazines, and I love the Martha Stewart Weddings and Style Me Pretty wedding blogs for their focused aesthetic. And wedding gown designers like Vera Wang, Monique Lhuillier, Hayley Paige and Matthew Christopher are always a big source of inspiration for me because they’re fashion, beauty and fantasy all rolled into one – and a dream to paint!
5. How would you describe your aesthetic? Why do you think it appeals to you?
My aesthetic is minimal and mostly monochromatic, with occasional pops of color. I love black and white, grey tones, simple lines and shapes, and lots and lots of white.
A couple of years ago I read Marie Kondo’s ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and it was definitely life changing for me! I KonMari’d my entire home, decluttered as much as possible, and everything in my home is now white with few black accents. I find a minimal, clean, white environment to be soothing and calming, like a blank canvas, and for me it’s the most inspiring kind of space to work in. I can’t work surrounded by clutter, I need lots of breathing room around me, I like to call it ‘visual quiet’, to hear myself think and to make room for creating my art.
It’s no surprise that my painting aesthetic is similar to my home and the way I live. I love minimal artwork, and my personal challenge is always to capture the essence of a body or a face with as few brush strokes as possible, to edit and simplify. I find shape and proportion much more interesting and exciting than color. Sometimes when I paint, I think color is almost distracting. Which is probably why most of my paintings edit out skin color. It’s much more interesting to me to capture features and to try to distil them to their very essence than to paint skin shades.
6. Is illustration therapeutic for you? How do you feel when illustrating?
Big time! I feel like painting is my zen space. Even more so than running or hiking. I get lost in the painting process, in the best possible sense. When I paint, I literally feel like I’m breathing deeper, I feel inspired, happy, calm and relaxed, like I am doing exactly what I should be doing. I always come out of it feeling excited and pumped to paint more because it recharges me. When I paint live, at events, it’s like I’m two different people: the introvert, absorbed, loving every minute of it and focused on the act of painting, unphased by the party going on around me, and the extrovert in me who loves connecting with my clients and sharing that energy and joy of painting with them.
7. What is next up for you that you’re excited about?
I’m most excited to connect with more wedding planners, venues and event production companies in Los Angeles and around the world who love creating fun and unique event experiences for their clients. I’m very excited to support them in realizing their clients’ dreams. I love exceeding their expectations by bringing the performance and entertaining aspect of my live painting to their events.
Painting in front of guests and using my creative energy to bring an emotional connection to life feels so exciting to me, and it also feels rewarding. I love knowing that the experience will live in the guests’ memories for years to come. As they watch my paintings progress throughout the event, they instinctively get pulled in, and they get in touch with their own creative side, perhaps even with something they long forgot they loved to do. That’s always incredible to see! A bride on her wedding day, a guest at an opening party or a young girl at her Sweet 16, I feel like I’m making dreams they didn’t even know they had come true with my paints and brushes.
To get in touch with Cristina and to book her illustration for an event you can contact her via these avenues: