Sunny Gu is a fashion and beauty illustrator based out of Los Angeles. She has been commissioned by many renowned fashion brands, popular magazines, and other major companies, including Vogue, Elle, Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Carolina Herrera, and Neutrogena, to name a few.
Originally from China, Sunny moved to the United States with her family at age 13, and became inspired by cultural diversity. She became apt at discovering beauty in her surroundings, and finds inspiration in her daily life, flowers, fashion runways, and the people closest to her.
Sunny’s name is as warm, bright, and cheerful as her demeanor. Her studio boasts lovely flowers, plants, and sunlight. Of her artistic influences she says she loves, “Gustav Klimt’s use of pattern and composition, Van Gogh’s color palette, [and] Claude Monet’s dreamy brush strokes.” In the world of fashion illustration, she admires “the masters of fashion illustration, [including] René Gruau, Bil Donovan, David Downton, to name a few.”
Although she has been drawing and painting since she was two years old, Sunny didn’t consider the possibility of an art career until after graduating from high school. “I grew up in a very conservative Chinese family. Pursuing in art was not in the family’s agenda,” Sunny recalls, despite being encouraged by her teachers throughout elementary and high school to pursue her passion and talent. With some persuasion from her high school photography teacher, she applied to an art college and was accepted. It was during her studies there, that she discovered her path to fashion illustration. “I learned about the general illustration field during my years in art college. One day I was in the school library, randomly flipped through a fashion illustration book. I was immediately inspired and knew that’s exactly what I wanted to do!”
Sunny got her start in commercial illustration while she was a junior in art college and received an e-mail from celebrity make-up artist and Neutrogena beauty ambassador, Elizabeth Ulloa. “She saw my work online and asked if I could do some beauty illustrations for her projects. I started my first freelance work with Eli without any knowledge or experience in fashion illustrations,” Sunny recalls. “She gave me the confidence and hope that maybe I could make my hobby into [a] full time profession.”
Her illustrations typically begin with rough sketches and finish with watercolor paint, and the occasional graphite or acrylic paint for texture. She is also a digital artist for surface design and textiles.
Sunny on Princeton brushes:
“Most of my watercolor brushes are from Princeton! I started using them when I was at art school; they are made in great quality and last a long time. I’m a loyal fan. I use Princeton Series 4950 Interlocking Synthetic Sable Wash Brush 1” to create special effects or gradients for background or large areas. I use a range of Princeton Series 4050 Best Synthetic Sable brushes (flat, round and liner brushes) for foreground and painting little details.”
“I use a range of Princeton sable brushes (wash, flat, round and liner) daily; they are essential art material for my creative work! I’m amazed by the quality of Princeton brushes: countless hours of painting later, they are still in great condition! The bigger brushes last years! I only need to replace some super tiny round brushes and liners occasionally because I paint so much details in each of my paintings, I rarely need to replace any of the bigger brushes, each of them can last years of faithful creative service.”