We’re not the only ones who have been in love with Inslee’s fashionable illustrations for quite some time now. In fact, her calendar is on display at the Levo office! She detailedly captures the effortless elegance of her “it girl” clients through simple yet unpretentious shots that are dripping in glamour. We met up with Inslee at her studio in Manhattan to get the scoop on what it’s like working as a professional bridal gown illustrator, and we were charmed by both her and her work. Not only is she followed loyally in the blog and bridal circles, but also Stuart Weitzman, Neiman Marcus, and Rachel Zoe have all commissioned pieces from her.
New York City
Where You Are From Originally?
Born in Washington D.C. and grew up in Leesburg, Virginia
Education (College / Major):
Washington & Lee University double major in Art History and Studio Art
Brief Description of Inslee by Design:
Stationery and paper design and custom illustration business featuring whimsical watercolor fashion illustrations.
What Inspired You To Start Your Own Business?
Since I adored painting and sketching, I decided to see if my talent could take me places by starting a company with four notecard designs while I was still a sophomore at W&L. This company gradually developed as time went on, and meanwhile, I realized that working for myself was extremely gratifying- Not to mention connecting with others through my art.
What Has Been the Biggest Challenge You’ve Faced as an Entrepreneur?
When you’re first starting your own company, everything can seem like a challenge. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. In the beginning, one of my biggest challenges was feeling “legitimate.” I watched my friends settle into traditional jobs and routines and felt constantly concerned that my career path wasn’t good enough because it was different. Now, I love that my path in life has been unique.
The company has become the most crucial aspect of my life, and as it still acts like a small startup run by myself and my family, I need to begin thinking with larger goals in mind. Eventually, I want this to develop into a sustainable enterprise for the future. This involves saving money, hiring employees, producing goods on a much larger scale than we currently are, and branching out into new product areas.
Your Personal Style in a Few Words:
Feminine, classic, and a lot of black.
Let’s just say I’m more of a Charlotte than a Carrie.
Go-To Outfit for Meetings/Events:
Little black dress and classic nude heels.
Thanks to my trusty new investment in eyelash extensions, my routine is pretty much just moisturize, moisturize, moisturize. The lashes do all the heavy lifting.
Article of Clothing (or Accessory) You Can’t Live Without:
This white linen skirt with black and brown laser-cut lace around the hemline is a true conversation starter. I have no idea who made it, which only adds to its mystique.
Next Item You Plan To Splurge On:
I just bought a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag last night, so I’m running low on my splurge fund. But Loeffler Randal Matilde boots are on my Christmas list!
A Day at Work Looks Like This:
Office Culture in a Few Words:
I work with two brilliant women who are always willing to help me come up with new ideas and give me support.
When You Work on Commissions, How Do Incorporate Your Clients’ Personalities Into the Piece?
I ensure that I have all the information possible before beginning a project. For instance, when working on a portrait, I always ask my clients to tell me about their favorite (and least favorite) features. Additionally, I urge them to be specific about any accessories they would like included. Drawing as many small personal details into each project as possible, really brings life to my art and gets people excited to see it come together.
Other Than Commissions, Where Do You Find Inspiration for Your Illustrations? Do You Use Models?
I also use Pinterest to find inspiration for my poses and virtual models.
How Many Sketches on Average Do You Do Before You’re Satisfied With a Final Piece?
My goal is to always get it right the first time. Occasionally a client will request revisions, but for the most part, I avoid multiple drafts because the piece will start to feel stiff. This is another reason why I get detailed information upfront—it helps me capture the client’s vision without needing many drafts.
Favorite Illustration to Date:
I don’t think I can pick favorites… ok, if I had to it would be a large oil painting I did years ago of a sunbather. It’s much larger and looser than my day-to-day work.
Favorite Part of Your Job:
I love being able to help people celebrate milestones in their lives through my artwork.
I like to procrastinate by scrolling through my Instagram newsfeed before getting out of bed. Then, I’ll grab some coffee and head into the studio around 8 a.m. to start my day with emails and packing up orders
Where Do You Go for a Ten-Minute Break?
The holiday season is a busy time of year, and I often feel like there’s no time for even a quick break! To try to get everything done, I work straight through most days. However, I make sure to do yoga regularly as it helps me take a step back from my work.
On Saturday You Can Be Found:
At a wedding! Being invited to someone’s nuptials seems to happen nearly every weekend this year.
If You Weren’t an Artist, What Would You Be Doing?
I can’t imagine! Maybe I’d try to take up interior design?
What Artist Do You Most Admire? How Have They Influenced Your Work?
David Downton and Steven Stipelman have both been huge sources of inspiration for me throughout my life as an artist.
How Do You Think Your Artistic Style Has Developed Over the Years?
I hope my work has improved since I was a teenager! When looking at my old sketches, they definitely look like they were done by a teenage girl. Now that I am an adult, my illustrations have more of a refined quality to them. I have lots of ideas on how to evolve my work even further in the future… but you’ll just have to wait and see!
You’re Engaged! Congrats! Have Your Bridal Commissions Influenced Your Own Wedding Plans?
Thank you! I always feel grateful when I am able to learn more about weddings from my clients. When I first got engaged, I had no idea what I was doing. Nowadays, because of all the great advice from my brides, I feel like an expert on weddings!
Favorite Croissant in NYC?
Patisserie Claude near Washington Square Park!
Coffee Drink of Choice:
Iced coffee with lots of milk.
Best Piece of Advice Ever Received:
“Don’t polish a turd.” I once heard this from a fellow student in one of my painting classes when I complained that one of my pieces just wasn’t coming together. It made me realize that sometimes, it’s best to start fresh rather than try and force something that isn’t meant to be.
My parents have always been supportive, but my dad is also an entrepreneur in the aviation industry. His experience and success have really helped me to keep going when times are tough.
In 10 Years:
I need my own closet. Living in NYC apartments is not known for their spaciousness, and right now my fiancé and I have to share one closet. If ten years from now, I can walk into my closet and see nothing but women’s clothes, I’ll be elated.
Career Wisdom for Young Professional Women:
Always stay confident, positive, and kind to those around you. You never know when you’ll need help from someone!
Check out Inslee By Design to peruse Inslee’s latest prints and products.
Ask Inslee for advice on how to turn your passion into your career!