Illustrator Jenny Walton Dishes on Creating the Artwork for InStyle's Style 100

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Believe it: 2014 is almost over (gasp!), and boy was it was it one fashionable year. In our December issue, on newsstands now, we showcased the best style and pop culture moments from the last twelve months in our annual Style 100, and while the choices were important, so was the design.

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This year, we recruited New York-based illustrator Jenny Walton to help us show off our picks, and we can't get enough of the results. In fact, we liked them so much, we just had to know how it all came together. Check out the video above to see her illustrations come to life, then scroll down to read our Q&A with the artist.

How did you get your start in illustration and design?
My background is in fashion design so that's where I really got my start. I went to Parsons for fashion and I've always been drawing and making clothes, but I really loved the illustration classes. Once I graduated, I worked as an assistant knitwear designer for a couple of years but was bored stiff being in an office. I had an hour-long commute on the G train to and from work, and I would sit and draw all the way to and from work. It got to the point where those train rides became my favorite part of the day! I would get off the subway and rush home just to stay up all night drawing and posting videos and photos of the drawings to Instagram. I started to get a good reaction and realized it was time to make the switch.

What’s your process like when working on a project?
I put in my headphones, turn the music all the way up, and just follow the pen. If it's for myself then I just draw whatever's in my head, but if it's for a client I usually still warm up by letting the pen or the marker guide me and drawing whatever is floating around in my head that day. Maybe it's a cool girl I saw while walking around the city or maybe a collection that's been stuck in my head. But it helps me loosen up to not think too much. I've realized the less I over-think the better the drawings turn out.

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What inspires you when you’re illustrating fashion?
It's always the girl. It’s not too often about the actual clothes, but it's the way she's put everything together or the attitude she exudes. It's why I love old movies so much (I bought cable just for one channel, TCM). I don't look at the news, and I've never been up-to-date on any sort of current events. I am very much living in a state of blissful unawareness, which ironically I am very aware of. But as [famous fashion columnist Diana] Vreeland smartly said, "Your imagination is your reality."  So I feed my imagination as much as possible.

For the Style 100, what was your vision for the feature?
Rina Stone [InStyle’s creative director] invited me to her office to brainstorm together. She laid everything out on the floor of her office and we talked about different ideas. We liked the idea of doodling out some drawings for each different theme, and we liked having the 100 for the cover page be made up of all these different components from within the Style 100 feature.

Is there a particular drawing that was your favorite?
Drawing all of the components for the title page. All the parts that make up the 100 was very fun, and so broadening for my skill set. I now draw balloon animals, and books, and even chickens. And it's a very exciting drawing as it kicks off the whole feature.

What were your favorite trends of 2014?
I love the belted coats. I think that's just the chicest thing, to be wearing some big oversized coat, and as you're running out the door feeling a little "undefined," and so you quickly wrap a belt around the middle. I think that's really lovely and something that never really goes out of style.

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