Cathy Coufakis is a force to be reckoned with. The Montreal illustrator, painter, and former makeup artist has been enchanting people with her emotional, high fashion images. As a B.A. graduate in Fine Arts from Concordia University (specializing in painting and drawing), her solid fashion and beauty knowledge mixed with a firm rock ’n’ roll sensibility leads her to create refined yet powerful illustrations.
By Mariame Moussally
Cathy has been drawing since she was a child, and her first “encounters” with glamour were Disney films: “Their animation and the way they depicted women… for example, ‘Blue Fairy’, in Pinocchio just blew me away. The artwork of Tamara De Lempicka and the Pre-Raphaelites were also a big influence on me in terms of glamour.” She cites Egon Schiele, El Greco, as well as Georgia O’Keefe and Henri de Toulouse Lautrec among her favourite artists. Illustrators such as ‘70s legend Antonio Lopez, Arthur Rackham, Czech Art Nouveau master Alphonse Mucha, and Marjorie Miller also count among her influences, along with the legendary fashion illustrator René Gruau. In the realm of fashion photography, Ellen Von Unwerth and Paolo Roversi have her favour.
The nineties left a strong mark on Cathy, thanks to the high-drama, high-octane, glamourous runway shows. Supermodels also left a solid impression on her, especially the reigning queens of the day such as Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista, “who were so striking, beautiful, and strong. I don’t think there is much that can top the ‘90s Versace, Gaultier, and Mugler runway shows, except for McQueen, of course.” Alexander McQueen is a perennial inspiration in her artwork, along with vintage Yves Saint Laurent and ‘70s Halston designs. In the more current crop of designers, Cathy confesses enjoying very much the delicate work of Rodarte. Despite all her past influences, she applauds the fact that we are now seeing more diversity, “especially in terms of age, shape, and sizes, women of colour, etc… But I would also love to see less photoshop and ‘influencers’ in fashion and other fields.”
The nineties wouldn’t be the nineties without the white-hot influence of makeup brand MAC Cosmetics and its edgy aesthetics. Cathy famously worked there for many years, and she says that working on so many fashion shows and body painting events “actually influenced my artwork in terms of really understanding how to recreate the planes of the face and how the light and shadows play on the features.” The ultimate beauty professional, Cathy not only worked behind the scenes at Montreal and NYC Fashion Weeks, she also collaborated with Montreal master fashion designer Denis Gagnon, “whom I really admire. The makeup for fashion shows is always so creative and high voltage!”
A bona fide rock chick, music is no less an influence on Cathy’s artwork: she confesses that Debbie Harry has been a major influence on her “since the age of nine, to this day,” and is “particularly obsessed” with ‘70s glam rock, especially David Bowie and KISS wearing kimonos. Sixties psychedelic rock, with its beehives and cat eyes also figure prominently among her inspirations.
Cathy’s art seduces a wide range of people, both men and women, but especially women that she describes as “very creative, edgy, and successful!” She ships worldwide to an international clientele who appreciate her modern yet delicate take on classic fashion illustration. Her advice to anyone wishing to pursue a creative project or career? “Do what inspires you, what moves you, and try to find your own style and voice.”
Etsy shop: Etsy.com/CathyCoufakis
@catcouart on Instagram