If you are of the arty persuasion, you may have stumbled upon Lizzy Stewart’s delightful work before. If not, it gives me great pleasure to be the first to introduce you to her.
Lizzy is an illustrator, based in London, whose work is inspired, primarily, by a need to tell stories. But also by folk culture, music and the places in which she finds herself.
For a long time, her work has been a part of my life, in a personal way that no other artist has. I decided to email her on my birthday (and on a whim) to ask if I could arrange a small interview. To my great surprise, she agreed! So off I went to her studio with my camera and notebook, and had a great chat over a cup of tea.
Here is the first half.
When did you first start drawing seriously and realise you could potentially make a career out of it?
Well, I’m not sure I have made a career out of it yet, definitely still aiming for that! It has been a continuous affliction my whole life. I first starting drawing from ages 10-11, but I always wanted to be a painter. I love the fine arts but it wasn’t until I tried illustration that I felt something had clicked. My dream was always to be a painter, so I am trying to bridge the two. Illustration is slightly less serious and more able to tell a story, which I enjoy.
What’s your favourite medium?
Undoubtedly pencil. There is something so naturally instinctive about the pencil; it’ the first instrument we use to draw and so will always have that comfort. I have a small obsession with the colour pencil grey also
(Lizzy was wearing a pencil grey cardigan, which is just perfect.)
Do you think there has become a stereotype with illustration? Namely the use of cats, stags and triangles?
There certainly was a craze for stag heads when I was university, bears are another one. But once something has become popular and you see it everywhere, it becomes osmosis where it creeps into your work without even knowing.
There must be a connection between what’s popular and then what companies want work commissioned for them.
Yes exactly. Of course it is quite useful to know what is popular and keep an eye on the trends.
Any good exhibitions in London that you’ve seen recently?
Erm….erm… YES! The Tino Sehgal http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/exhibition/unilever-series-tino-sehgal-2012
Have you ever considered running a class?
I have guest lectured a few times and I am going to be doing so again at Goldmiths University which I’m very excited about.
I am also thinking about hiring an intern as I have so many plans running simultaneously, so I’m sure that will be a mutual learning experience!
How do you try and compete with so many other illustrators?
Luckily I got into illustrators before it became very popular, and so I have managed to stay ahead of the trend a bit.
Stay tuned for Part 2, coming later this week, where we’ll talk about her love of literature, and the beautiful book covers she has designed.