Hopping The Pond @1984

 In 1984, girls just wanted to have fun. And I just wanted to draw, dress up, and watch MTV. Lately I’ve been waxing nostalgic for an era that seems like just a few years ago, surely not the quarter century that it actually is. A fond forgiveness settles in as I remember the excesses of fashion, lifestyles, and music; when apps were applications, not on a future phone, but of eyeshadow, blush, and lipstick.

Music, fashion, and art were still coming from the city streets, intertwining and influencing each other with no need of a PR agent, no call for product placement. Magazines had models on the covers, often nameless, and reality TV celebrities and marketing honchos had not yet muscled their way into the playground to spoil it.

I was on vacation in London and took my art portfolio, hoping to show it at British Vogue. To my utter amazement, they wanted me to do a series of drawings on the new beauty look. Right then. In exhilaration and a bit of a panic, I bought some supplies and showed up at the photo shoot to sketch. It was my first photo shoot ever, and the creative/fashion directors were Liz Tilberis and Grace Coddington. They would both come to this side of “the pond” to Vogue a few years later. My vacation had morphed into a wonderful creative opportunity. I finished the art in the hotel room, working on the floor in cut paper and colored pencils, my new media that I had abandoned my earlier “punk” line art for.

The music from 1980 through 1987 was as much a contributing factor to my creative output as the exacto blade I cut my paper with. I can’t separate them, and the soundtrack to my hitting my professional stride will always include everyone in that crazy MTV decade, from Adam and the Ants to Romeo Void.


“F**k it up!” Steven Meisel, the teacher, would yell at us. Meaning: Push it.

This ain’t no party. This ain’t no disco. This ain’t no fooling around.

all images copyrighted & property of Sharon Watts

6 thoughts on “Hopping The Pond @1984

  1. A quarter century has taken nothing away from those illustrations Sharon! I remember loving them when I first saw them…in the magazine and in your portfolio. And a great story to boot!

  2. For starters, I love that photo of you. And it is scary how fast time seems to fly by — I agree that it just doesn’t seem like a quarter century ago.

    That’s pretty exciting that you got to work in London during that period (or anytime, really). They’re terrific illustrations that really capture the look and energy of the era.

    As for “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” I clearly remember when and where I first heard it/saw that vid — on one of monitors in the lounge area at Danceteria in late ’83.

    • V.A. ~ Vintage Beatles stuff around me, while I wear a dress I had just got in Paris that was influenced by the flapper era (in my Louise Brooks bob), as I head off to a party where my late-Matisse inspired cut-paper art was featured in a show sponsored by the Wool Council at a club that used to be the Fillmore East, with Cab Calloway as the live performer! Talk about spanning the decades!

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