Megan Hess. Picture: Supplied

Her whimsical illustrations have graced the glossy pages of Vogue and Elle and featured in high-end campaigns for Tiffany & Co and Dior.

But despite her glowing portfolio, seasoned illustrator Megan Hess never imagined one day turning her drawing talents into a full-time career.

Growing up in country Queensland, Hess harboured a knack for drawing from a young age but instead took up graphic design to channel her creative talents.

"I always wanted to draw, I would have loved to make that my job as I was growing up but I never thought you could do it as a career," she told Access All Areas.

"So I went into graphic design, and I enjoyed it but it never felt quite right."

Later relocating to London, Hess eventually broke out of graphic design and moved into "a lot of different creative jobs" before eventually winding up as the art director for department store giant Liberty.

"It was such a great job and most of the work we did was photography based," she said. "But I was always illustrating. That was the thing I always did on the weekend or at night. It was just something I really loved."

Although content in her role, an illustration project prompted Hess to seize the opportunity to showcase her drawing talents.

"Normally I would commission someone to do that because I was the art director but I told them I'd like to illustrate it," she said.

"So I did that project and once those ads came out in the UK, I was contacted by a lot of magazines and I started to do full-page illustrations for UK Elle and Vogue."

"At that point, I knew that was what I wanted to do. So I had to kind of make the leap from steady income as an art director to trying to build illustration work. I was determined to go with it."

Even after deciding to throw in her job, working as a freelance illustrator still had its challenges.

"I basically did every illustration job that came my way and most of it was awful," she recalled.

"I remember distinctly the day that I was working on a particularly soul-destroying job of illustrating pizza toppings. They were just not happy with the pepperoni, it didn't look right . . it was just one of those days where I felt really down."

Hess was on the verge of giving up until a potentially career- boosting opportunity rolled around.

"I got a call from Candace Bushnell's publisher, saying that she'd seen one of my illustrations in Italian Vogue," Hess said.

"She was just about to release her next novel and they were looking for someone to do the cover."

As it turned out, Bushnell fell in love with Hess' artworks and commissioned her to do the cover for a special re-release of the Sex and the City series.

"It really changed everything," she said. "It was on billboards, on the back of buses in New York . . . then literally a week after they came out, I was contacted by Vanity Fair, Tiffany & Co, Chanel . . . it was unbelievable. I've just kind of been thanking my lucky stars ever since."

Hess has since gone on to build a glowing illustration portfolio, racking up a list of high-end clients from luxury labels Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Fendi to high-profile public figures such as Michelle Obama.

Despite working for some of the world's top fashion brands, Hess isn't fussy about taking on the smaller projects.

So much so that she didn't think twice about creating a stunning illustration of Perth make-up artist Alison Jade for her eponymous beauty empire.

"I was really inspired by the fact she had started her business her self," Hess said. "She's worked really hard and she's really passionate about what she does."

"Her story is similar to mine in that we both loved our passion and turned it into our day job, so I connected with her in that respect."

Hess recently decided to use her illustrative talents to create her first book, Fashion House: Illustrated Interiors from the Icons of Style, which has already had the tick of approval from Bushnell.

"She's been almost like a mentor to me since I worked for her," she said.

"We met up when she was in Sydney recently and I was terrified to show her the book, because she kind of calls it as she sees it.

"But she was great, she was really supportive. It was a huge relief that she liked it."

The West Australian

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