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Splitting her time between Los Angeles and Chicago, Sunny Gu is an artist whose work is all about colour, glamour, fashion and ornamentation. With an instinctive and immediate approach, her live drawing skills are in as much demand as her studio illustration work.
Originally from China, Sunny emigrated to the US at 13 and is nicknamed ‘Bee’ because she’s so obsessed with flowers. If you look inside her wardrobe you’ll be overwhelmed by the colourful floral prints and patterns inside. She has plenty of accessories to go with the garments too, and like flowers they provide important inspiration for her illustration work.
Sunny studied illustration at the Otis College of Art and Design in LA and has a Bachelor degree in Fine Arts.
Each illustration begins with a series of rough sketches to develop the composition. Then Sunny works on the detail and starts painting. Her favourite medium is watercolour, with graphite or acrylic used for some of the textures. Sunny will use a computer to create surface designs and textile patterns.
Sunny is happiest when she’s painting and this optimism comes across in vibrant colour and rich detail. The focus on beauty and emotion is clear in her work and she wants to bring joy to whoever looks at it.
Sunny has worked for clients including Vogue, Elle, Bloomingdales, Macy's, Versace, Carolina Herrera, Shiseido, Neutrogena, Billboard, Camilla Franks and HBO.
Sunny was amazing. I sat down in front of her, with watercolors at hand and she smiled as she pointed out the features she was painting
and started speeding up like a concert pianist as she was trying to capture the image. She drew a crowd of a couple dozen people watching
her work with such passion and energy. It was amazing!
Deidre Dunkin, President and 4th Generation Owner, Dunkin & Bush, Inc.
You were a tremendous addition to the night, thank you so much for working with us and also traveling up from LA! I hope to work with you again in the future!
K. Quinn Stuebe - Integrated Marketing Director, ELLE
I've seen Sunny's work on Facebook and IG and have been a fan of her illustration work for a while before contacting Sunny. She has an amazing eye for detail, impeccable taste, and great sense of fashion from her work. In a sea of many illustrators I've came across, her vivid yet consistent style was something that I was eager to contact her to work with me for my projects. She is the ONE. Before I've fully engaged Sunny to work with me on my project, we've chatted on the phone, communicated on email, working with Sunny was such a breeze. Great attitude and good work ethics. It was such a pleasure working together with Sunny. When my client received Sunny's illustration (i've commissioned Sunny to do illustration of my wedding clients based on the photos I've taken of them), their happiness and satisfaction when they've received the art work was beyond belief. Client's happiness is driving more credibility for me in the field.
Zabrina Deng - Award-winning international wedding photographer, JeZa Photography
I've been using Sunny Gu well over 5yrs for work and personal projects. I knew right away she was the perfect illustrator for me because of her attention to detail and feminine touch. Sunny truly listens to what I need to accomplish and delivers for each specific project I've commissioned her for. I know I will get a one of kind illustration specifically made for my projects. Sunny delivers my projects on a timely manner and gives me options / suggestions that well exceed my expectations.
Lyst's illustration series is a hugely popular project that allows us to showcase our incredible partners and work with some of the most talented young artists from around the world. We are always wary of presenting our partners' brands in a way that honours their work and does justice to their collections. As such, we need to trust the artists we work with implicitly and after an extensive search, we found Sunny's portfolio and saw the detail and care in her work and knew she would be perfect. We saw a lot of her fashion and luxury-focused work and the elegance and beauty of them stood out immediately. The degree of detail and realistic portrayal required for these works was important and her work showed us she would be able to handle them with respect and care they commanded. Together we have produced five beautiful pieces of art. She has taken both iconic gowns and designer favourites to make something we are so proud of and can't wait to share. Sunny was so open to feedback and guidance. We presented her with a skeleton of a framework and even from the first draft we could see her vision fitted with ours. We made minor tweaks and suggestions and asked her for her expertise as well and what has resulted is nothing short of breathtaking.
Hannah Finnigan Walsh - Digital PR Manager, Lyst
We were looking for a fashion illustrator who can create packaging images different from FANCL’s existing ones. We felt that Sunny's unique style and expression was so attractive. When we were looking for an image with Fancl team, they wanted some look representing ‘Flowery Runway’, we found Sunny's portfolio which was exactly the one. Then we contacted Sunny. The client and their customers are so happy and it was immediately sold out even just after the sale started. Thank you so much! Sunny provided images with very high quality and many options upon our request and schedule perfectly. We really appreciated her professionalism!
Creative Team, Seitaro Design, inc. Japan
I was looking for an illustrator with a particular style. Sunny had a variety of work that showed me that she could do different things well. I was particularly drawn to her still life pieces and figured that majority of my assignment might mirror something similar. In the end, I gave her lifestyle commissions that were great. Sunny was great. Quick, reliable and efficient. Really pleasant and professional. She responded in a timely fashion, gave me options (which I love) and informed me when she needed a flexible deadline/more time.
Dian Holton -Deputy Art Director, AARP Media
These illustrations were so beautiful (and spot on!) It has been such a pleasure working with you and I hope we have the opportunity to work together again soon.
Jenny Friedman - Public Relations Director , Carolina Herrera
Thank you for all your help with these events! Everyone raved about how amazing you were! : ) The illustration looks amazing!!! Thank you for going above and beyond! It was a pleasure working with you, and I look forward to working together in the future.
Marissa Petriello - Promotion Assistant, Vogue
I loved Sunny’s artistic style and palette. She was exactly what we were looking for when we were commissioning an illustrator for this project. Sunny’s portfolio in fashion illustration as well as her ability to capture someone’s likeness was a huge asset as we were working not just with fashion but also with known figures and had to get their likeness right. Sunny was incredibly professional. Exceptionally courteous and made the experience a pleasure. Our deadlines were tight and she was always on top of her schedules. Apart from the beautiful illustrations, Sunny did a fantastic job researching the characters and that was a huge bonus on this project. She definitely performed over and beyond my expectations and I was very impressed with the outcome.
Frances J. Soo Ping Chow - Design Director for RuPaul Drag Race Paperdoll Book, Running Press Book Publishers
Thanks so much for drawing at our event! The drawings look AMAZING!
Looking forward to hopefully working again together in the future.