By day, Ruthanne Terrero is a vice president and editorial director of a major New York City publishing house. She jets around the world, interviews CEOs in the hospitality and travel industry, writes groundbreaking articles, and oversees a staff at a few trade magazines. But in the early morning and late evening hours at her suburban New York home, you’ll now find her sketching away, creating beautiful drawings she sells at her Etsy store that women of all ages fall in love with.
One might say that Ruthanne’s soul is called to do two things: write and draw. But after college she chose just one of those passions and didn’t look back — at least for a while.
She first started drawing in high school, doing self-portraits, sketching her favorite album covers, then copying the iconic fashion illustrations in The New York Times for Lord & Taylor and Bergdorf’s, and later drawing models in Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. While her high school teachers encouraged her to go to Parson’s School of Design in New York City, she made the choice to study writing at Oberlin College. She did take studio art classes and dabbled in painting after college, but life took over and she never had the time to get back to her art completely.
One winter in Manhattan, Ruthanne was passing through Bryant Park on her way to her day job, and she saw the vendors setting up in their stalls for the holiday markets. “One booth, owned by Melsy’s Illustrations, had its windows filled with fashion illustrations. They were exquisite, drawn with colorful markers of girls in all sorts of sweet poses, on bikes, with best friends, in ‘fashionista’ wear, and my jaw literally dropped,” she recalls.
“I never thought selling prints of drawings like that was an option.” She stopped back by the booth that evening and the shop was filled with young women who were in awe of the drawings and couldn’t get enough of them. “The artist was there and to me she was like a rock star. And when I looked her up online, I saw she had a thriving Etsy shop and about 50,000 followers on Instagram.” That day, Ruthanne became hooked with the idea of setting up a business that way and began drawing again for several hours a day.
Her intense practice of drawing began in December, 2015 and
once she saw how many other fashion illustrators were on Instagram and Etsy, she was so continually inspired she hasn’t stopped sketching for a second since.
While Ruthanne is enamored with the art process and actually producing something, she found it interesting and perhaps a bit challenging to go through the process of setting up a business — but she didn’t let that stop her. So many women come up against obstacles in doing what they love and feel called to do and Ruthanne continued to persevere. “It takes a lot of time to do the business part of it and it’s so important to keep putting a lot of time into it to ensure you have good photography and that you are enticing people to shop on your site. I’ve always admired entrepreneurs and I see this as my first step into that world.”
As a businesswoman, wife, and mother, one might think Ruthanne doesn’t have the time for her other passion, but she makes it happen. “I commute into New York City every day for my day job, which means I’m away from the house for 12 hours. For this reason I start drawing the second the alarm goes off at 5:45 a.m. and I draw for one full hour. It’s excruciating if I feel I’m on to something good and have to stop at that point, but I’ve learned if I don’t stop, I will miss my train!”
She then draws after dinner for a few hours, always watching the clock because sometimes before she knows it, it’s 1:30 a.m. and she’s still working on something she’s really excited about. “But it’s a good problem to have,” Ruthanne adds.
A single drawing can take from one to three hours depending upon the complexity of the pose and the clothing. She follows many fashion bloggers on Instagram and is inspired to sketch those that have a little more pizzazz than the others and the ones where she can see the pose clearly or a bit of attitude.
“Sketching makes me feel free. I truly enjoy being focused on one thing rather than many. And it delights me when I’m working on a drawing to be able to consider adding a pop of color or an accessory that’s not in the original photograph.”
Writing will always be Ruthanne’s first love, and she can’t see ever giving that up. But now she feels she can balance between both and doesn’t need to make a decision between the two so one gets more priority than the other.
“I love how the world is now – with online you can have your own websites and social media accounts and be as creative as you like. It’s a great time to be an artist regardless of your medium. And you can explore different paths and take them as far as you like.”
Ruthanne hopes her drawings make people smile and she really enjoys it when someone says they see themselves in one of her drawings or they see themselves and their friends. She’s now looking at avenues where she can use her artwork to help promote causes and how she can use it to help others.
“This renewed interest in art has made me so happy, I want to put it to good use and make a difference.”
By inspiring women to rediscover old passions and creating artwork that makes people smile, we think she already has.
Follow her @roxys_illustrations on Instagram and visit her Etsy Shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/roxysillustrations.