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Fashion illustrator Jane Radstrom documents SXSW

Michael Barnes, Out & About

Staff Writer
Austin 360

While others watched, fashion illustrator Jane Radstrom recorded. The Austin art teacher spent the 10 days of South by Southwest perched at key locations Austin Convention Center, Red River Street, West Fourth Street. There, she photographed the passersby and noted trends.

Then she turned those images into illustrations that document, not only transient fashions, but also SXSW variations attributable to weather and tribe. A full set of those pictures are now available at her digital portfolio (janeradstrom.com) and her blog (janemakes.tumblr).

Radstrom, 25, was seemingly unperturbed on Sunday after 10 days of social madness. She grew up in Clearwater, Fla., and studied at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Fla., and she liked the small, cultured city on Florida's west coast because it more reflected her personality than some other college beach towns: "It's not Miami," she says.

Clearwater and Sarasota are havens for elderly people, and after graduation, it was time to join her generation. Radstrom moved to Austin to teach online classes for two schools: Austin-based the Art Department and San Francisco-based Academy of Art University.

Although she teaches fashion illustration, she's no style plate.

"I'm a foodie, and I don't have the money for two expensive hobbies," she says. "The way I dress wouldn't qualify me as a fashionista."

Nevertheless, she's got an artist's sharp eye for fleeting details and cumulative trends. And she's an admitted people-watcher. SXSW provided an almost unavoidable chance to indulge.

"The drawings that turned out best are the ones where they are walking by or just standing," she says. "If I asked them in advance would they be part of a fashion project, they'd say yes, but then strike some cheesy pose."

She noted a return of some styles from past years, such as sheer boyfriend tops with visible bras underneath, garden floral patterns and colorful American Indian geometries.

The hair? "Natural, texture-y, loose and long."

During the film and interactive festivals, the weather turned cold and rainy. "Everywhere was a sea of simultaneity: jeans, hoodies or plain, black rain zip-ups," she says. "Only 1 in 100 wore something interesting. Even a red scarf stood out because it was a pop of color."

Later, the sun came out. "When it got warm, all the clothes came off," she says. "There were a lot of those really, really short shorts — or do they wear those in Austin every summer? — and gladiator sandals that have evolved to become whole baskets around the feet."

Men and women still donned skinny jeans.

At interactive and film, guys wore T-shirts with words, jeans and maybe flashy shoes or blazers. The music people broke out the patterns, button-ups and loads of accessories.

"During music, you get a lot more extremes," she says. "Beyond trends, beyond fashion to the point of just trying to stand out."

Contact Michael Barnes at mbarnes@statesman.com