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How long does it take to become a fashion illustrator? Apparently, about 40 minutes. Provided, of course, that you spent 40 years becoming an accomplished artist. Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim started her journey as a young child asking her artisan mother how to draw a bird.

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“She was at work in her studio and I asked her how to draw a bird,” reminisces Cindy. “She pointed at the holly tree in the backyard and said, ‘Find a bird.’” Feeling slightly rejected, she discovered as she continued to hone her skills that this was, in fact, sage advice.

Ferragamo fashionista at live sketch event

“I have always drawn from life,” explains Cindy. In fact, her first ever assignment for a greeting card company had her running to a garden shop looking for the proverbial basket of violets. “I was the laughing stock of the floor,” Cindy chuckles, “but the approach has served me well.”

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After decades as a successful commercial illustrator, Cindy now works frequently from photographs and other source material, but when the opportunity arises to get out there and document life in the flesh, she jumps at it. The Ferragamo gig provided such a lure.

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On arriving at Salvatore Ferragamo’s flagship store in Silicon Valley, Cindy was placed at a glistening acrylic tulip Saarinen table, poised to whip out fashionista versions on special Ferragamo cards of their clientele. Five minutes and voila!

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With half the store watching the magic, it was quite the challenge. Cindy trusted her instincts and fell into a zone. One exquisitely turned-out shopgirl asked breathlessly how long Cindy had been a fashion illustrator. She glanced nonchalantly at her watch and said, “I’d say about 40 minutes.”

If your next project would benefit from a consummate illustrator who personifies grace under pressure, sneak a peek at Illustrator Cindy Salans Rosenheim’s work here. But you’d better be quick about it!