This sounds strange to say - I used to be a little ashamed of being an artist. I saw my contemporaries at Camberwell outdoing each other in an effort to look as 'arty' as possible and I felt suffocated by the scene. While studying at Goldsmiths on the brilliant Design BA course I relished the idea that I could create an idea, an intervention, a product for a client and they would pay me for it. It was so simple, so elegant and I embraced the label of 'designer.'
It's only over the past year or so, after working as an illustrator for five years that I've finally been able to declare that yes, I'm an artist. I used to go to galleries and feel guilty - why should I be spending my days looking at such beauty and inspiration? I should be at my desk drawing. What I didn't understand back then, what countless mentors had told me, is that the soul needs to see beauty, inspiration and life to truly unleash its power to create.
When I submitted my ideas to Graham and Brown for the New Wave collection, I had been working furiously at my designs. I was panicking, after a week of brainstorming ideas and coming up with nothing, I decided to take a walk. I set out from my little flat in Bermondsey and walked to Highgate. I went through Moorgate and up by Old Street. I strolled through Angel and down Upper Street. I kept looking up. On the tops of the buildings were cornices and spires, dragons and ornamental windows. My hand itched to capture this moment on paper, to document my journey through my favourite city in the world.
As day faded to night, I realised that I had every ounce of inspiration I would ever need in this beautiful city. London has been the subject of my work for years. This ancient hub of life with all its glass skyscrapers leaping into the sky is still full of stories. My latest exhibition is with the Serena Morton gallery in Ladbroke Grove in January 2015. In this exhibition 'Hidden Palaces' I will be exploring London's hidden secrets; those treasured houses, museums and caves which make our capital so great, so mysterious and so inspiring.
I extend a warm welcome for you to join me in London next year - and in the meantime - enjoy my wallpaper, the product of my solitary city adventure last Spring.
Written by Lizzie
Illustrator Lizzie Mary Cullen’s distinctive swirling pen-and-ink drawings have gained her a bit of a cult following. With Cullen’s designs, the more you look, the more you see and that is very much the case with Lizzie’s Doodle. ‘I wanted to create something that is fantastical. London is one of the oldest cities in the world and the most modern. I wanted to capture the urban complexity of the city, drawing out both its magic and normality.’
Go back to Inspiration & Advice