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#ADCShero Series - Grace Ciao

February 17, 2015

Last month, we introduced Cëe for the first of our #ADCShero series. Gracing the cover feature this month is Grace Ciao, whose beautiful fashion illustrations with flower petals have taken our breath away time and again.

Grace's affinity for fashion began early at the age of seven, when she started to create miniature dresses for her Barbie dolls with scrap cloth her grandma gave her. In 2014, she experimented with flower petals and the internet response to her couture dress designs has been astounding. Grace's works have been featured all over the world from Buzzfeed, Mashable, to DesignTaxi and the Huffington Post.

A nature lover, Grace enjoys working with flower petals as their delicacy mimics that of a soft fabric. Folds for flare skirts are weaved into her illustrations using the gentle, fabric-like quality of roses. Every type and subtype of flower has petals which have unique qualities. Her favorites? Lilies and carnations.

1. Hi Grace, please tell us more about yourself, and about what pursuits you’re currently occupied with.
Hi! I am a full-time fashion Illustrator and my style involves using watercolor and markers. Last year, I started incorporating real flower petals and other embellishments into my work, and to my surprise, they were quite well-received! While I try to be as imaginative as I can, I do consider the element of realism in my projects as well.

2. Your fashion work with flower petals has gained you international acclaim, with websites like Huffington Post and Buzzfeed featuring your work. How did you get started? Where do you get your inspiration from?
It all came from a purely accidental episode, when a rose on my desk was wilting and I had the sudden desire to prolong its short-lived beauty.

Hence, I incorporated the petals into one of the illustrations I was working on. To my surprise, it turned out pretty decent and motivated me to venture deeper into this area of fun experimentations.

3. We hear that your new found fame has also opened more doors for you, which requires you to jet set around the world. Can you tell us more about your recent projects?
Last year, I was engaged by Jaeger Le Coultre to do a live demonstration event in Hong Kong. In the same month, I also had the lovely opportunity to work with a Singapore shopping mall, 313 Somerset, to exhibit 10 flower dress illustrations, inspired by the fall collection of top high street brands like Zara, Topshop and Forever 21, in the mall's atrium.

Occasionally, I also conduct introductory fashion illustration workshops for interested participants. I've held three workshops so far and am thankful that the response has been great!

4. Could you tell us more about a typical day in your week? How do you structure your day to fit everything in?
I don't really have a fixed schedule because my projects tend to vary. I guess this is what's interesting about my job as well. In the day, I will be busy meeting clients and during the night, I will be doing a lot of painting.

Creativity seems to feed me at night so this "schedule" works pretty well for me. However when I have deadlines to meet, I would be sitting in my studio all day trying to get my creative juices flowing.

5. Do you ever feel overwhelmed? If you don’t mind sharing, could you tell us about one of your lowest moments? What kept you going?
It can be really stressful when there are plenty of deadlines for me to meet. I was still in University previously and found it overwhelming to have to juggle school and work assignments. Things are a lot better now that I have graduated and am committed to doing this full-time.

To be honest though, I haven't experienced a time when I felt extremely low and tempted to give it all up. My clients' satisfaction and the wonderful acknowledgement from my social media followers are what keep me going every single day.

6. Do you find yourself making any tradeoffs? What are they? And would you change anything if you could?
I graduated from business school and most of my peers have ended up in banks and MNCs. I often wonder how my life would turn out if I had decided to pursue another career.

But I am still young now, and I want to live my dreams. It is such a joy to be able to do what I love every day and there really isn't anything I would change if I could.

7. Could you tell us something about yourself that few people know?
I can quite an untidy person. In fact, "quite" might be an understatement; my workbench is full of clutter! I used to try to tidy things up but it gets messy again soon enough. I have now given up being neat and organised.

8. Could you share some tips for photography and styling?
I like to have a lot of colors in my photos! I often style my paintings with my paint palette or the flowers that I am working on. Here's a time-lapse video of me working on my illustrations for a brand collaboration:

9. What advice would you give to other women who are juggling similar responsibilities as you?
I don't think I am in any position to give anyone advice yet! Haha. However, I really like this quote - "Joy is a flower that blooms when you do." It encapsulates what I firmly believe in - investing in my interest and strengths, and allowing the joy that follows to envelop me! :)

Thank you, Grace, for sharing your gorgeous fashion illustrations and being a part of the #ADCShero community. Do venture over to her Instagram page or website for more of her wonderful art. We certainly look at the surrounding flora and fauna with new eyes now, do you?

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