Dominic Gomez
The Art of Fashion

Art As A Survival Technique March 22, 2016


One of the features unique to being human is visual discernment, a key element of art. We often take what we see for granted, which is what all animals do. Something moves in the corner of our eye and we take flight. Or we chase it because it may be a source of protein.

But evolution has moved the human species beyond simple knee-jerk reactions. We now assign higher meanings to what passes before our eyes. Shapes and forms no longer signal just something to eat, run from, or mate with. They now represent abstract notions such as truth, beauty and goodness.

Some of the earliest abstract images created by humans represented things from their immediate surroundings:


The uniquely human ability to observe and report (graphically) natural phenomena is the basis of culture. I’m a visual artist, so I won’t even go into the shapes and forms of the printed word that are the tools of writers. Or the shapes of notes that are transformed into the sound of music.

Drawing is a product of seeing. In a way it is our first attempt to create order out of chaos. To make sense of the world. Our prehistoric ancestors had no choice but to “create” techniques to survive the chaos of the natural environment. The role of visual art, especially drawing, has not changed much in the 40,000 years since those first  attempts by humans on cave walls. Those of us who have found our niche as visual storytellers continue to play a major role in culture, in society.

We make sense of the world not only for ourselves, but for our fellow humans. But it can be a thankless job in today’s market economy. As Madonna used to sing, “The boy with the cold hard cash is always Mister Right, ’cause we are living in a material world.”

For many of us today, the world can only be understood through what we buy and own. Advertising keeps that activity moving along. And as an advertising artist, that’s alright with me.

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Drawing Is Seeing: Art as a way to change yourself February 15, 2016

Drawing is seeing # 2

Drawing is Seeing # 2


This is the second of a series of art that I’ve created as visual meditations for your viewing pleasure. The idea is to allow you, the viewer, to make your own interpretation of what you see.

Be the one who determines your own reaction as you make your way through these picture posts. Create your own story about what you see as the picture on the right interacts with the picture on the left.

Hopefully these works will spark new ways for you to grasp and appreciate what’s around you. See more of my work at Bechance.

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Drawing Is Seeing: Refreshing your viewpoint. February 4, 2016

Drawing Is Seeing” is a series of visual meditations for your viewing pleasure. It is my re-boot of Milton Glaser‘s visual book, “Drawing is Thinking”  (Overlook Press, 2008). The concept of a visual book (one without text, rhyme or reason) is not new. But the images for it and the relationships between them are unique to the artist who uses it as a medium. And in this case, rather than a physically bound volume, you’ll be viewing a virtual visual book on your computer screen or mobile device.

Any text needing to be read will be offered at a bare minimum. The idea is to allow you, the viewer, to make your own interpretations of what you will be seeing. You will be the one to determine your own experience as you make your way through these blog posts. To make your own judgement calls on what you see happening, or not happening. Your journey will be aided by the format of the images presented. Most will be two placed side by side. Occasionally there will be three. The important thing is the development of implied ideas that occurs in your mind between the pictures you will be seeing.

To perceive something is to apprehend it with one’s sense of sight, through one’s eyes. To mentally register its form, color, texture, movement. And in this way, to categorize and file it away in one’s mind for future reference. This is what an artist does when he or she draws. But to perceiving something is not always actually seeing it. To go beyond the mere visual recording of a thing. Seeing something more clearly and on a deeper level (than its surface qualities) is a function of a person’s more spiritual nature. It arises from one’s subjective realm. That same dimension of life in which one’s overarching values (of the world and one’s place in it) are formed. 

The drawings, paintings and other artwork you’ll be encountering in this blog will hopefully  spark some novel ways for you to see the things around you. Enjoy!


Drawing Is Seeing 1








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January 26, 2016

tres nuns unaltered

Here’s a recent interview of me about my work by Seattle Fashion blogger MAPLE Leopard:


Tell us about yourself and how did you become a fashion illustrator?

I’ve been drawing people for as long as I can remember, either making them up or copying super heroes from comic books. My interests in design and the human body could have led me to become an architect or a doctor, but I went with fine art. I learned advertising art skills from some of the best professionals in the business at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where I’m from originally. One of these classes was Fashion Drawing, with Justine Limpus Parish (presently associate professor at Art Center College of Design).

This type of illustration is rarely used today. Photography is almost exclusively the choice by the major fashion glossies. But drawing is more my forte, so I maintain a portfolio that shows my best paintings and drawings to prospective art buyers.


How do your sketches (pieces) come together? What techniques do you use?

I start with a pencil drawing on an 18″ x 24″ piece of paper of a model wearing a designer outfit. I prefer to draw from life but can draw from photographs (either my own or those of photographer friends, or from magazine shoots) if that’s not an option. I make several sketches of different poses and select one that best shows the unique features of the garment. (This is important if the outfit has a particular silhouette, line or movement that the designer has incorporated into the piece.)
I can then add a little color or background, or scan the line drawing and print it out on a material that I can use wet media on. Currently I use pen and ink and watercolors highlighted with color pencils.


Which designers are your favorite to illustrate?

I don’t have any favorite designers at the moment, but I like the work of Valentino and Oscar de la Renta. There’s something about their understanding and appreciation of the female form that goes well with the way I draw. The main thing is how a model’s attitude and pose combine with an interesting or sexy garment.


What qualities do fashion illustrations have that photographs or film don’t?

A drawn or painted image has the potential to take viewers to a whole other level than a photograph. Photographs do have the ability to instantly capture a fleeting moment (the two-second “vogue” on the runway), but an illustration can extend that moment in time and in one’s imagination, like a short story or a captivating movie.


Where do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from people I observe around me, as well as from the work of photo stylists working in conjunction with photographers in forward fashion magazines. I also keep looking at the work of other illustrators, past and present.


Which other image makers do you admire?

I admire the work of a couple of current fashion illustrators: David Downton and Mats Gustafson, who seem to work on opposite ends of the picture-making spectrum. Illustrators from the past that I admire are Antonio Lopez, Renee Gruau, George Stavrinos. I also like the visual concepts Diana Vreeland came up with when she was with Vogue, as well as the many fashion photographers such as Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, etc.


What advice would you give to any upcoming fashion illustrators?

My advice would be to continue drawing and painting on a daily basis, even if you only have a short amount of time to do it. Also, look at a lot of fashion imagery, especially those in large print magazines. And keep in mind that illustration, especially fashion illustration, may not provide total financial security. You may have to keep your day job for a while as well as learn and nurture other skills pertinent to the fashion industry. Drawing is seeing, and seeing in itself is the basis for that sense of aesthetics that drives fashion.

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Art Music Dance Entertainment Fashion November 24, 2015


Seattle is a city that pushes the cultural and political envelope. I moved here in 2003 from San Francisco, long known as “The City That Knows How” and “Baghdad-By-The-Bay”, among other noms de guerre. Keeping in mind that the “The City” is just across the Bay from “Berserkely” (Berkeley) and “Bump City” (Oakland), the “Emerald City” (formerly “Jet City”) was not a major culture shock.

In fact, Seattle feels reassuringly like the northern extension of a geographic mind-set that stretches from the SF Bay Area through “Portlandia” (keeping it weird) on into Vancouver, B.C. Think cultures without borders.

If the lay of this land looks somewhat familiar, it was first envisioned by Ernest Callenbach in his 1975 classic “Ecotopia”. He described the political, cultural and economic secession of the northern West Coast from the rest of the United Sates. A few years later Seattle University professor David McCloskey coined the term “Cascadia” to describe a real-world culture that embodies the ideals of the fictional Ecotopia. Cascadia (Land of Falling Waters) is not just the environmental ecology of a geographic region but also a socio-cultural understanding nurtured by it.

Which brings to mind the annual confluence of Art, Music, Dance, Entertainment and Fashion in Seattle known as…AMDEF.

AMDEF presents a series of collaborations by artists, musicians, dancers, entertainers and fashionistas that challenge their creativity and talents to work together. Through a process of partnering talented individuals from very different creative disciplines and providing them the venue and resources to co-create unique performances at AMDEF shows, the producers hope to strengthen the Greater Seattle Area’s creative communities by exposing both artists and attendees to new mediums of entertainment.

As one of AMDEF’s contributing artists I’m happy to be a part of the “Cascadian” point of view!

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The Case For The Art of Fashion October 7, 2015

gatsby girl

Clothes are dynamic flexible objects with a personality photos cannot bring out.” Alf- B Dagsvold, CEO ItsMeSee

There is a reason why fashion runway shows have such visceral appeal. The clothing we choose to wear “fulfill their destiny” (if you will) not by hanging in closets collecting dust. They enhance and complete our perceptions of ourselves so that our friends, co-workers, associates can see us more completely. More as we really are. Or at least as how we like to think we are.  Fashion and style are individual choices. They have personality and are most becoming when their “personalities” match our own. And vice versa. (This has always been haute couture’s raison d’être.)

And because people are dynamic and flexible and move when going about the business of daily life, clothing is best studied and taken under consideration for purchase when they are observed on the fashion runway.

I’ve nothing against photography as a marketing tool for the apparel industry. I have many friends who make their living as fashion photographers. But sometimes a photograph, even taken by the most esteemed cameramen (and women) in the business, doesn’t quite capture the personality of the garment. On the other hand a free-hand sketch of a garment on a model…a fashion illustration…can convey the palpable impression of a living experience. It becomes more than a frozen document.


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The Meta-Creative September 28, 2015

artist and model

(above: Seattle model Addy Evenson being drawn by me at AMDEF 2015)

We’re constantly inventing and reinventing ourselves, our personas, our internet avatars, our on-line presences, our social media selves. We like our selfies. We love to blog. We curate our accoutrements, our likes and dislikes to fit carefully crafted perceptions of what we think we are.
Welcome to the age of the Meta-Creative: “meta”, as in a concern with oneself or to the conventions of one’s own genre and “creative”: one who is original and creative (specifically, a person involved in the creation of advertising imagery).

Over 100 years ago during the last “fin de siecle” people were moving optimistically but with great uncertainty into the 20th century. Leftover notions from an increasingly antiquated 19th century were being shelved. This formed the backdrop of unprecedented developments in science and the arts.

We’re in a similar period of anxiety today in a “debut de siecle”. We find ourselves on another precarious journey into an (increasingly) unknowable next century despite what we’ve learned from the previous one. And again anxiety is the backdrop for rapid developments in technology and the arts, not to mention socio-economics, interpersonal relationships, and many other aspects of modern life that were rarely considered in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s.

The present time seems to be urging us to mollify uncertainty about the future with something we can at least be sure of: our own selves. The leveling of the playing field brought on by the internet and social media has dramatically increased the belief that anyone can be a star, if even in a 10 second movie. Powerful apps are driving self-generated creativity about…who else? Ourselves! Self promotion is what it’s all about, really.

The downside, though, is that creatively supporting the group takes a back seat to supporting just oneself as a survival mechanism. The internet/social media can provide a false sense of “community” while supporting narcissism. We are together being alone.

As an artist I can understand the need for people to express the creative urge. It’s irrepressible. Art is life itself and needs to be dealt with somehow. But absent a supportive community of (art) providers and receptors, creative effort becomes a dead end. Or at least of value only to the writer, artist, musician, choreographer, filmmaker him- or herself. An advertising creative once wrote that to be truly creative one has to be completely unselfconscious. That’s why children are so good at it, especially when they find themselves in a safe and nurturing environment.

Truly creative people aren’t necessarily motivated by the money (which may be why so few of us have much of it?). What we do desire, though, is acknowledgment and appreciation of the ideas we have and of the things we create, especially from those whose opinion we respect. And most especially if that someone is another artist.

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The ’80’s Are Back…Big (Shoulder) Time! September 5, 2015

This is my take on a Claude Montana look from the ’80’s. Remember him? Big shoulders, over-the-top glam. Another style icon of the era, fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez, was a major influence on my choice of drawing style. Currently, Millennials (whose parents cut their fashion teeth during those heady times) are rediscovering that delectable look and feel for themselves. See more of my illustrations here.

montana 2

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Polished and Ready to Go August 31, 2015

Here’s a tightly rendered painting of an evening look that was in vogue in the late ’80’s. Did it while I was still in San Francisco. Don’t remember the designer, but Claude Montana and Valentino were hot then. Mixed media on illustration board, 15″ x 11″.


evening wear

evening wear

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There’s Something About Mary… August 26, 2015

But honestly, she can’t be all that bad!

(I did this in a drawing workshop at the 2014 Emerald City Comicon . Graphite, watercolor, colored pencil, pastel and crayon on paper. 12″ x 8-1/2″)

There's Something About Mary

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