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Langley Fox wanted to be a clown when she grew up. Somewhere along the way, though, her path changed, and she ended up going to school for fashion design, where she realized drawing was her truest passion. Her illustration work has since been featured by fashion brands including Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, and Alice + Olivia — she first stepped on the runway as a New York Fashion Week model for Marc Jacobs in 2013.
These days, the photorealist artist (actress Marial Hemingway’s daughter and Ernest Hemingway’s great-granddaughter) is less focused on the fashion world. She’s turned her attention to her un-commissioned, wholly original artwork: photorealistic, emotionally charged drawings of rural scenes, melancholy mimes — and, yes, clowns. The Wildest talked to Fox about her always-evolving artistic career and her gorgeous Husky companion, Zeppelin.
How did you get into drawing? When were you first pulled to visual art?
I think I always drew. When I was a kid I was very shy, and drawing is something you can do alone. My one friend in kindergarten, her parents were artists. I was like, “Wait, you can choose a career that is just drawing things all day long? I wanna do that!”
How did you discover your style?
I think style is so funny because it’s almost like your personal style with your clothes — you almost don’t see it yourself, but other people see it.
I know that I do photorealistic [art], and I tend to be drawn to more — in some people’s minds — eerie or dark subject matter. I just think life and things that are sad are generally more beautiful. I’ve always been very detail-oriented, so, I think, in just practicing and wanting to draw something exactly the way it looks was always my goal. Now I have such a hard time not detailing things.
You know when you see movies and you’re a kid and people are drawing photorealistic [images], and you’re like, “What?!” I wanted to do that. It looks like magic. It’s just a lot slower when you do it.
I personally love the subjects you choose, like clowns and mimes.
The clown is really a hit or a miss. You either like clowns or f*cking hate clowns.
When I was a kid, I also wanted to be a clown. I forgot to see all the movies that scared people into thinking clowns are scary, so I was just like, “Clowns are cool. They kind of look drunk and they’re just wearing crazy makeup and doing stupid things all day long.”
Tell me about Zeppelin!
Zeppelin was a gift. My first boyfriend gave me a one-year anniversary gift, and it was my dog. My boyfriend broke up with me a month later. So he basically gave me a child and broke up with me — but the cutest child ever. When he was a kid he was just bouncing off the walls, but his mother also doesn’t like to sit still. I have a walking addiction. We walk around somewhere from six to 11 miles a day together. He’s just the sweetest. He doesn’t really bark. A lot of people say he looks and acts like a puppy, which makes me feel good — he’s seven. And he sheds a lot. I have to vacuum every day.
Does he hang around when you work?
When I draw, sometimes he sits under the desk, which sounds cute but is actually annoying because he just sits there, panting at me and I’m like, “Can you take your dog breath somewhere else?” He does this thing where he just follows you around the house. When people stay over, he follows them around, too.
How do you choose your drawing subjects?
I like a lot of photojournalism photography from the ’50s and the ’60s — kind of looking at subjects that I think we ignore, like the homeless or prostitutes. Things that, at the end of the day, I think are so beautiful. I really tend to get drawn to a face in terms of what emotions it has — something that almost tells a story within itself.
Tell me about the career switch from fashion design to pure illustration. What inspired that?
I went to school for fashion design but I just didn’t want to be a fashion designer once I was in school. I was like, “This is too many people around me.” It’s a lot.
I did a lot of commissions that way and was known as more of an illustrator, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten pickier. I don’t really want to do other people’s commissions as much. I started painting during the pandemic. I’m trying to segue myself more into fine arts.
What’s your favorite medium to work with?
I feel so confident drawing with pens and pencils. I’ve been doing it for so long, and I know the process — it’s not daunting. Oil painting scares the shit out of me. Which is good, because I need that. I don’t think it’s good to get too comfortable. You always should be pushing yourself to the next level.
I also started oil painting because you can do stuff so much bigger. I choose subjects based on photos I’ve taken — something that’s just mine. I’ve tried to keep this all mine and special, which is also more daunting. The first show I did was all self portraits of what I called my “demons” represented in different forms. I was also teaching myself how to paint, so I think using myself as subject matter was easiest — especially during the pandemic. But yeah, I don’t want to ever paint myself again. We’re done with that.
Where can people find your work these days?
I’m selling a print right now. I made a website for it — it has been a big week. I connected it to PayPal, which is probably an easy process for a lot of people but I had to call PayPal…I was like, “I don’t get it.”
Has Zeppelin ever inspired any pieces?
It’s so funny; I’ve drawn so many dogs and I’ve never drawn him. Probably because I see him every day and nobody’s paying me to do it. I don’t get paid to do a lot of my drawings, to be honest. I drew a wolf one time with blood all over him, but it wasn’t my wolf. I would be scared if there was blood all over him.
We’ll get to it. We’ve got time. I’m gonna make him live for my entire life. He’s got no choice.
“Blackie was a friend and a collaborator. I never saw him as a pet and I don’t see Bosko as one either — they are family members.”
From mental health tips she learned from her dogs to the shame of running out of poop bags, her illustrations are playful and relatable.
“He has a little brother energy that is almost subconscious to us. That’s the kind of character presence that he’s brought to my comics.”
“I think the relationship between a woman and her animal companion can build out a character a lot — they’re more like witches’ familiars than pets.”
Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.