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Vanessa Dell

Vanessa Dell's Photo - People and Portrait Illustrator based in the UK

Life and personality jump off the page or screen with one of Vanessa Dell’s portraits. Vivid colours and an emphasis on facial features make her paintings seem more real than real, as they reflect the spirit of the subject as much as their unique look.
Based just south of London and with over two decades of illustration experience, Vanessa has always been fascinated by faces and has studied them since childhood. Then, her subjects were Bugs Bunny and Sylvester the Cat, but today her influences include Lucian Freud, Stanley Spencer, Peter Blake, Sidney Nolan and Patrick Heron. Vanessa received a first class honours degree in Graphic Design, specialising in Illustration, from Kingston University.

Approach

Vanessa’s main medium is oils, with some coloured pencils added in. She loves the physical act of painting, the feel of the oils and the paper textures. Photoshop comes in towards the end of the process, to compose the elements and to tidy up an image.

Style

Composition is more important to Vanessa than perfection, and her style captures the life and personality of her subject with a human feel. It’s idiosyncratic, fresh and sensitive, perhaps reflecting a little vulnerability and even awkwardness from time to time. That’s why people connect with her paintings more than they might with photographs.

Client list

Vanessa’s clients include Time Out, Rolling Stone, Slate, Waitrose Weekend, Trailer Park Inc, Kiehls, Radio Times, Elastic Creative, The Times, Smithsonian Magazine and Good Housekeeping.
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Illustration of abstract Peony
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Portrait of Peter Capaldi
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Rag n Bone Man
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Leila Slimani
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food illustration of Marmite
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Selfie Self-Portrait
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Portrait of Singer/Songwriter Ed Sheeran
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Portrait of Judy Garland
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Gin Poster
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Portrait of Alan Titchmarsh in a garden
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Portrait of Marie Antionette
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Portrait of a young Prince Charles
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Vine Tomatoes | Food and Drink illustration
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Portrait of Hillary Clinton
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sketch of onion
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food illustration of Cucumber
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Business Woman
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Portrait of Audrey Hepburn
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Portrait of Alan Titchmarsh in a garden
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Old Man
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Illustration of cats
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colorfill art of Goldfish
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Pets
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Traveler relaxing in a hotel
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Muse
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Dizzy
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Portraits of Hitchcock & Wertham
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Portraits of Liam and Noel Gallagher
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Portrait of Jean
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Food Expert
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Jeanne Moreau
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Eastern European Youth
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Food Expert
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Dahlia
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Portrait of Marlene Dietrich
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Keihls Elderly Love
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Homopromo
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Cycling Hero
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Male Fashion Model
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Leopard
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Lunch
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Since I’ve been in love with movies, I always found beautiful the American film posters from the 50’s and 60’s. The realistic portraits, in film poster, have a lost charm that is hard to find nowadays. My idea was to bring back a little of that magic and I found in Vanessa the right person to do that. This cover, not only shows her strong capacity to portrait people but also her great skills in color composition and attention to detail which make the result remarkable. I’m extremely happy about this collaboration which I hope to repeat in future.
Andrea Vinciguerra, Video Youth
When you’re in the middle of a magazine launch you need everyone to be on board, which is easy for the team actually putting it together, but harder for any freelance contributors drawn into the project. Vanessa had an extremely short time to turn around detailed portraits of our contributors when we didn’t even have a final list of who they’d be - writers were added and subtracted as our nascent magazine took shape. Even though we’d not worked together before I was never in doubt of her ability to deliver to a tough deadline - her communication was always calm, considered and realistic. Vanessa can not only paint extremely good likenesses but has the extra talent of capturing a look in the eyes that renders the portraits compelling. It was a great experience collaborating with Vanessa, and I’m hoping that a future project will give us a chance to work together again.
Martin Colyer - Art Director, The Critic
Vanessa was a dream to collaborate with from start to finish. Our brief to her wasn’t easy: capturing the essence of obscure characters from NZ pop culture that only Kiwis would know. She created three portraits for us that were instantly recognisable, yet completely fresh and fun. We also asked Vanessa to create some typographic illustrations, with minimal direction given – and she delivered all three in styles that matched the portraits perfectly. Her understanding of colour, texture, composition, and humour come through in her work. On top of her incredibly unique style, her input and ideas were invaluable to us along the way. Vanessa gave the work an x-factor it wouldn’t otherwise have. We would love to work with her again.
Melina Fiolitakis - Senior Art Director, FCB New Zealand