By Margarita Hirapetian

 

One look at Pily Montiel’s striking fashion illustrations, and you might be in need
of some serious retail therapy. But not just a trip to the local mall, more like a
mad dash to the nearest Chanel boutique. Or even a spur-of-the-moment trip to
Paris. That’s because Pily’s drawings are enchanting and transportive, making
you wish you were clothed in a classic tweed suit, enjoying a croissant at a
quaint café as fashionable people walk past. Fashion in general has the ability to
make one dream of the unattainable. Its aspirational nature can even sometimes
be off-putting because not everyone can relate. Yet decorating your home with
Pily’s colorful and dazzling work will not fail to delight and whisk you away to
another world. Her drawing of a young woman in a pink beret and dotted dress
looking at a glittering Eiffel Tower, for example, will immediately transport you to
the seventh arrondissement, and you won’t want to come back. As Pily says,
“That is what fashion does. It sells you a dream, and you just immerse yourself in
it.” Immersing yourself in Pily’s work will occur easily and immediately. Truly, if
you want to add some enchantment to your home, or inject it with a sense of
beauty and whimsy, you need some of Pily’s art on your walls.


Since an early age, Pily has been interested in drawing, and as a child, she
would “ramble through the art section of libraries, looking for books” as she
attempted to teach herself how to sketch. She remembers, “I would literally draw
and paint with anything and everything I could find, every time I could.”
Eventually she pursued a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and “learned
how to properly use illustration mediums as well as industry standards.” After
graduating, she began working for Miami-based fashion designer Lisu Vega, and
had high ambitions, “I thought I would eventually become the next Versace.
However, as you know, life happens.” Ultimately, Pily began deviating from
design. Her attention instead focused on her grandmother, who was battling
different health conditions at the time. As her grandmother entered the last phase
of her illness and sadly passed, Pily turned to art, spending most of her grieving
period drawing. She recalls, “Listening to music, grabbing the pencil and drawing
for hours was my escape. In illustrating, I would find peace for a brief second.”


A turning point occurred when Pily had the idea to post some of her illustrations
on Instagram, and share them with others. The response was immediate and
extremely positive, “I had never fully shared my drawings before, because in my
eyes they weren’t anything extraordinary, but people were responding to them.
My account started to grow and inquiries started to pour [in]. I had created
enough interest in my illustrations for me to think of pursuing illustration as a
career.” She took advantage of her popularity right away and trademarked her
name, created a personal website, and started reaching out to big companies.
Licensing contracts weren’t far behind. Today, she works full time as a
successful and in-demand fashion illustrator with immediate goals to grow her

audience and drive more sales. In the long term, she hopes to be recognized by
her peers and “be able to live a comfortable life from my work as an illustrator
and fashion designer.” At the rate she’s going, there’s no doubt she will achieve
that in no time at all.


It hasn’t all been roses for the artist, however. There are struggles with
“designer’s block” or “illustrator’s block.” She says, “It’s not a myth. I get inspired
very easily but sometimes I’m just not there and I kind of have to reset, walk
away, and come back to the drawing table. It can be extremely frustrating.” Other
challenges include dealing with “impostor’s syndrome,” a condition with which
perhaps every artist can relate and sympathize. Pily recalls, “Back in school my
drawings weren’t the most outstanding in class. I was good, but I didn’t feel I was
as gifted as other students were. For some, it was extremely effortless to do
certain things, and for me it just took more time. I felt like if I couldn’t draw as
easily as them, then I wasn’t as good. Definitively, comparing myself and being a
perfectionist is a drawback sometimes.”


Despite all that, Pily seems to have a really good head on her shoulders and is
able to keep perspective. As she advises aspiring artists, “Practice, practice,
practice, and don’t give up. Don’t listen to what other people say. There is always
going to be people who won’t like your work, or will criticize. Just do your thing
and try not to listen, unless it’s constructive criticism.” She herself finds
inspiration not only in iconic and historic fashion houses like Chanel and Hermes,
but also all of the strong women in her family. She explains, “The [women in my
family] are all strong and independent, which I think can be a blessing and a
curse.” Her own strength and independence have brought her far, and we can’t
wait to see what she does as she continues to grow her business.

 


If you’re curious about more of her stunning work, follow her on Instagram, and
don’t hesitate – purchase some of her art through her Etsy shop!