We’re in awe of Olivia Knapp’s hand-drawn pen and ink illustrations. Based in Seattle, Knapp uses a combination of inked dots and line marks to create highly realistic black and white drawings. Her tight cross-hatching technique is influenced by European line engravings of decorative relief and scientific specimens from the 16th to 18th centuries, with an added contemporary twist.
But apart from being influenced by 16th century masters, Knapp’s technique is also a reflection of her background in fashion. Having studied at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Parsons The New School for Design, majoring in Fashion Design, Knapp worked as a printed textile designer in the fashion industry for several years.
“I have consciously revisited this lost craft of fine cross-hatching,” she admitted once in an interview with Folio. “Unconsciously, however, my years as a textile designer have crept into my work. People often point out that my inked lines appear woven or stitched – I can’t deny the resemblance.”
In fact, it was during her practice as a textile designer that Knapp’s obsession with old engravings was ignited. “While on a trip to New York City for a textile trade show, MoMA had an exhibit on the evolution of printmaking,” she recalls. “I remember walking through it, viewing engravings that were blown up to an immense size. I was immersed in their imagery.” According to Knapp, this particular moment proved to be a game changer. “I had always loved old engravings, but this show ignited a different level of love for me,” she says.
Incredibly, Knapp’s drawings are completely hand drawn, which takes time and patience (each piece takes anywhere between ten to 300 hours to complete). Describing her art as introspective, patient, and methodical, her pieces tend to explore the relationship between desire, reason, and circumstance. Scroll down to see some recent work: