We first stumbled upon Michael Ward’s colorful fashion illustrations on Instagram. The beautiful drawings sketched by the New York native caught our eye and we knew that we needed to share his drawings with Ponyboy readers. Ward’s no newbie to the world of New York high fashion; he has been a designer for Burberry, Rachel Zoe and Diane von Furstenberg. We look forward to seeing much more of his talented work for years to come! https://www.instagram.com/michaelwardnyc/
PONYBOY: Hello, Michael. We just love your fashion illustrations. To begin, tell us about your background.
MICHAEL WARD: Hi, there! And thank you! I’m super excited to be a part of the Ponyboy world. I’m a Brooklyn born, Long Island raised New Yorker. I have a BFA in Fashion Design from Parsons School of Design, and have been a women’s fashion designer since graduation.
PONYBOY: We read that since the age of 15 you have dabbled in fashion. Can you tell us in what aspects?
MICHAEL WARD: I was obsessed with the world of fashion and design from an early age. High school trips to NYC and witnessing Bruce Weber/Calvin Klein billboards had me hooked. There was no turning back. I even worked at our public library to have access to Vogue Magazine. At 15, my parents brought me into Manhattan to meet with both FIT and Frank Rizzo, Fashion Chairman at Parson. Frank Rizzo was paramount to the decisions and life I am living today. I am forever grateful to him.
PONYBOY: You have a background in design. That’s how you got into illustrating? Who have you designed clothing for?
MICHAEL WARD: I’ve been fortunate to work for several fashion labels including a beautiful start at Carmelo Pomodoro, Burberry, Rachel Zoe, and most recently as the interim Creative Director of Diane von Furstenberg.
PONYBOY: You’ve basically switched over from being a clothing designer to fashion illustrator. What’s the transition been like for you?
MICHAEL WARD: Honestly, the illustration has taken on a life of its own. After DVF, I made a vow to ground myself in something I love. I decided to basically do “a sketch a day”, while looking for my next design job. It’s been such an “outside my box” experience, and quite a healthy one. I’ve loved it. Through social media, I have met some extraordinary people, artists and opportunities.
PONYBOY: For what clients have you done illustrations?
MICHAEL WARD: My biggest illustration job to date has been the 2016 campaign for Magic trade show in Las Vegas, Australian accessories brand Oroton (currently my illustrations are in over 42 locations in Australia, Singapore and Malaysia), Salvatore Ferragamo, Hugo Boss collection men and women, Yommme (food guru Christine Wong), and my illustrations have appeared in WWD throughout my career.
PONYBOY: Where do you find inspiration for your illustrations?
MICHAEL WARD: Inspiration comes from everywhere for me. I often choose a favorite look from a house or brand I respect and admire. I have also done portraits of fresh faced models from Gucci and Marc Jacobs, as well as Sonia Rykiel, Amber Valetta and Cindy Crawford. It’s a pretty cool experience having Cindy Crawford “liking” your portrait of Cindy Crawford! I am inspired by talent, raw creativity, and beauty in all forms, including photography, art, painting and theater.
PONYBOY: And who would you say are your favorite designers?
MICHAEL WARD: Top of my list is Dries van Noten. He has cultivated a most gorgeous world for both men and women. I love his thought process, from product to casting and presentation. He respects his craft and he respects his customers. I also have a deep appreciation and affection for Alber Elbaz. I am a huge fan of Allessandro Dell’Acqua and Peter Dundas, as well. There is a love of the craft that resonates into all they do. You can feel it.
PONYBOY: If you could design for any fashion house, who would it be?
MICHAEL WARD: Tough question! I loved my time with Diane von Furstenberg. She is extraordinary in every sense of the word. I would love to work with Carolina Herrera, within the changing landscape of global/American design, my eye turns toward her. I like her language, her touch.
PONYBOY: What do you see as the next step in your career in fashion?
MICHAEL WARD: The beautiful answer to this question is, I have no idea and am thoroughly enjoying the present.