Clothes maketh the man – how our Fashion Issue cover was made

For our cover this month, illustrator James Dawe created a portrait of fashion designer Patrick Grant using samples from his Community Clothing label. Here’s how it was done

CR November 2016

In CR November, our Fashion issue, we interview Patrick Grant about his Community Clothing project. For the cover, James Dawe has created a portrait of Grant using clothing samples and images from the project.

CR: Have you made a portrait in this way before?
JD: Yes, I produced two 1.5 metre square portraits at a live event for the Metro newspaper. The faces had contrasting expressions representing the ‘highs and lows of city life’ and the portraits were made entirely from issues of the Metro.


CR: How did you build it?
JD: Using the Metro project as experience I went about making the portrait in a similar way: tonally mapping out contours and colours in the face and hair then building up the paler tones first. Cutting and ripping shapes to roughly match.

In this case the collage material was also themed. Community Clothing sent me samples of their clothes to work with. I also raided my mum’s sewing box and Berwick Street’s haberdashery stores for more. Printed images of the collection and the CC factories were also used for the finer details.

It wasn’t possible to have a full colour spectrum of fabric and papers so that gave the portrait reoccurring bolder areas (of reds and mustards for example). Part of the nature of collage is to make the most of the material you have to hand.

CR: How long did it take?
JD: Physically making the artwork took around two full days and a day to set up and gather materials.

CR: Did any part of the portrait cause you problems?
JD: Fixing the threads on (using Copydex and fabric glue) to create areas of the hair was a very sticky and fiddly business.The key features such as the eyes, mouth and nose took a lot of layering, peeling off and re-sticking too.

CR: Are you pleased with the results?
JD: Yes, the portrait began to develop as more ideas came to light, such as using safety pins for the silvery bits of the beard, embroidered buttons for the right eye and different thicknesses of thread for the hair. It’s satisfying that people don’t notice how it’s made at first and then the closer they look, they see all the textures and layers.

See more of James Dawe’s work at He is represented in the UK by Jelly,

What's the story?

The Storytelling issue, Oct/Nov 2017, is out now.
We invited writers to respond to our cover image
this month: read their stories inside.
PLUS: Tom Gauld, Oliver Jeffers, Giphy & S-Town

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