Mel Odom, The Dreamer.

First and foremost, Mel odom is an artist, having worked on illustrations, dolls, masks and oil paintings. Yes, this blog is on fashion illustration, but while Odom has stated that he considers only one of his illustrations to be truly classed as a fashion illustration ('Shirts' for Playboy Guide, 1981), his body of work is of great style influence and his illustration can be quite easily placed in a fashion context. The surreal, often sexual and highly stylized qualities of the characters and creatures in his images lend themselves perfectly to the escapist nature of fashion.

As such, his illustrative work has inspired Nicola Formichetti, one of the most important and regarded stylists in the industry right now. Nick Knight and Formichetti styled an editorial based on Odom's work for Arena Homme +, and then featured his work (illustrations and masks) alongside an editorial for the latest issue of Vogue Hommes Japan.

I managed to buy his book 'Dreamer' off Amazon for very little as it was published back in 1984. There are more works in the book not featured here or online, including some striking pencil illustrations, and I have a feeling Mel's earlier work is about to go through a big renaissance from the likes of fashion students who will be coming across his work for the first time.

He illustrated for magazines such as Viva, Time Magazine, Omni, Playboy (winning 1980 illustrator of the year from them), multiple book covers for Nancy Collins and Ruth Rendell and, and most significantly, his work for Blueboy Magazine (for which I am DESPERATE to get ahold of - they contain super rare homoerotic drawings by George Stavrinos that do not exist anywhere online ), in some respects his work reminds me of the work of Tara Dougans and Richard Gray. The eye for such strong graphical compositions that runs through their work continues to amaze me, so make sure you check out their work too if you already haven't.

"Alex Sanchez at Blueboy Magazine would let me do anything I wanted, as long as it was gorgeous. So I did some very personal stuff for him, portraits of boyfriends and such, mixed into my illustrations. A lot of my best work from that period was done for Blueboy."

"My technique is basically lead pencil over dyes on a very smooth illustration board. I create the sketch initially in pencil on vellum."

"I think that's how you best approach commercial work, finding the personal thing within it that you can explore."

All quotes from an interview with TheArtPoint.
Make sure you read the fantastic interview on their site with Mel about his career and the evolution of his work. Anything else I would write would essentially be a rewrite of this interview. Another brilliant interview for showstudio can be read here.

More after the jump . . .

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