Q & A with Lizzy Stewart
With LMNOP being situated in Brighton we sometimes feel like we’ve had our fill with seaside inspired artwork, so when we first saw Lizzy Stewart’s Toska, it was a welcome break for our nautical weary peepers. Toska is a beautiful black and white litho printed book we stock here at our shop. The grey and desolate images of landscapes really conjure up feelings of isolation and melancholy. We spoke to Lizzy just before she moved from Edinburgh to London to study for her MA. We asked her how she felt about the upcoming transition and the creative processes she goes through to create her evocative drawings.
Hello Lizzy, We've heard on the grapevine that you are about to move sticks to London town to start your MA. Are you excited about beginning a new chapter in your life?
Of course! I've been in Edinburgh for six years so it makes sense to try somewhere new! I'm looking forward to trying new things with my work, experimenting a little. It’s not always possible to take risks with your work when you're freelancing so it'll be fun to indulge a bit and really explore what I do!
Especially judging from your beautiful book Toska, you enjoy using your environment as a main influence to your artwork. Do you draw observationally or do you prefer using reference material?
In truth I rarely draw from observation really. Not from life anyway. I usually use photos as I like drawing landscapes but I'm terrible at drawing outdoors. I think it’s important to practice looking at things, to get used to really looking rather than just filling in the gaps in your head.
Toska by Lizzy Stewart - Avaialable to purchase here
What is your favourite tool when you are drawing?
A 0.3 Mechanical pencil, easy!
Can you explain the process your work goes through? How do you get from an initial idea to a finished piece?
I procrastinate and stall. I defy anyone left to their own devices not to! But once I get going, after a bit of research (usually online, to my shame) I draw everything in pencil and then scan it to work on it in Photoshop. The 'fixing up' process can be anything from fixing the levels and erasing smudges to adding tiny amounts of colour in choice spots to fully colouring in the whole thing and adding textures. I'm sad that I've ended up so reliant on Photoshop- hopefully its just a phase. It’s just so efficient though!
Your recent zine: Paintings that I Did Not Paint explores drawing concepts of authorship by replicating images that you love. If you could choose any artist in the world to collaborate with, who would you choose?
A writer maybe? I'd like to illustrate one of Daniel Kitson's stories. That'd be a dream. He's my favourite comedian and a wonderful storyteller. I really love how he finds beautiful things in everyday lives. That’s a special thing.
Image from 'Paintings that I Did Not Paint' by Lizzy Stewart
What does your workspace look like? Do you work at home or have you got a studio?
I used to have a spare room turned studio, but now I'm working in my bedroom and the living room when I'm not at University. I have a desk with my computer on it and I try to draw at the table so that I’m not tempted to faff about on the Internet.
Lizzy's work space
If you could dispense one word of advice to aspiring artists out there, what would it be?
Make sure you believe in what you're doing. If you spend too much time looking at other people's work it becomes very hard to tell what is your way of thinking and what is theirs. If you concentrate on making work about things that you, personally, really care about then it really shows through in your work and really contributes to your personal style.
You are so good at creating narrative within your illustrations without even using text. Is this something that comes naturally to you or was it a skill developed over time?
I've always enjoyed reading and I write quite a lot, even though I'm terrible at it. I guess that familiarity with the process of storytelling helps when trying to construct narrative images. I am always keen that what I draw can be interpreted in more than one way, and that it serves as more than decoration. That’s the plan anyway!
Animation is an art form that a lot of illustrators gravitate towards at some point in their careers. Have you already or do you have any plans to animate any of your drawings?
I'd love to. I've never done any animation whatsoever so it'd be a steep learning curve I think. If there were any animators out there who fancy helping me out that'd be great.
If you had to choose producing work in colour or mono for the rest of your life, what would you choose and why?
Mono probably. I find pencil quite emotive, I mean that in the least pretentious way possible. Its nostalgic, we all learn to write and draw with pencil. And there's so much scope for tone through pencil work. Also black ink is pretty special too!
What do you find the most difficult thing to draw?
Horses? Dogs? I don’t know. It varies. Some days I can barely draw at all!
Do you have a favourite finished piece of work?
I'm proud of the Toska book. I made it during an intense period of drawing over two weeks and that feels quite complete to me. I like the Swim short story I did recently. That feels quite personal and represents something a bit new for me in the form of a comic strip format. Though not remotely comic I guess!
Can you tell us what you have up your creative sleeve in the upcoming months?
Studying for my masters is taking up a lot of my time, obviously. But there'll be new prints and so forth in my shop and I'm embarking on a wee publishing endeavour that I'm quite excited about. I don't really like revealing my plans to be honest. For some reason once you tell people what you want to do it makes it a lot easier to not do it!
We have Lizzy Stewart’s Toska in store now so come visit us to pick up a copy or you can purchase online here.
You can Visit Lizzy's own website here at www.abouttoday.co.uk
All images Courtesy/Copyright of Lizzy Stewart
Interview By Rosalie Hoskins
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