Interview: Lizzy Stewart

Ah, the big world of the internet is a curious one. I first commented on a photo here about a mural that Lizzy Stewart did, and thought nothing else about it. A few weeks later, I stumbled on Lizzy’s shop and fell in love straightaway. I didn’t think of the connection until much later, and badabing, here we are!

Wolf Dream, a Gocco print available in her Etsy shop

Name: Lizzy Stewart
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland
Shop: Etsy
Illustration media: Pencil/Watercolour/Ink

Tell us a little more about yourself. How did you get your start in illustration?
I started out on a straightforward Fine Art course at Edinburgh University but quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. I wanted to tell stories and found myself enjoying working on smaller, intense spaces than the giant canvases I’d been doing up until then. I had wanted to be a painter all my life so at first the thought that I wasn’t enjoying it scared me a lot but thankfully I found illustration and since then everything has made a lot more sense.

Could you tell us more about your thought process when you start a piece?
Oh gosh. I’m not sure that I have particular process when I start work. I try not to build up to doing a drawing too much. It seems when I plan to work I find it almost impossible to get going but when I start a little doodle absent-mindedly it tends to grow and I get sucked into drawing for hours. Often I work from texts (like with ‘I Am The Friction’ by Sing Statistics), which initially makes me sad that I’m not a writer but always helps in getting me enthused about work. I keep lists of sentences and song lyrics that I think would make a good drawing and then, when I’m running low on ideas, I fish one out to get me going again. I dream of one day drawing the whole of the Mariner’s Revenge Song by the Decemberists.

Mary Ann, a Gocco print available in her Etsy shop

Do you keep a journal/sketchbook, and would you mind if we had a sneak peek?
I used to be a sketch book master. I have loads going back to when I was thirteen when I used to draw pictures of photos from J-17 magazine. Recently my sketch book skills have waned a little, I draw less and less for my own entertainment (its all college work and jobs) so I dont draw from life very often. Mainly my sketch books are bits and bobs that i piece together to make a whole on photoshop (my younger self would frown on that) or little bits of lettering or pattern but I really hope I can get back into it soon. I love other people’s sketchbooks and always get jealous when I see one done well (I love to see pages from Irina Troitskaya’s online. Sigh.)

What or who inspires you?
Music, Folk Music/Art/Stories, buildings, other illustrators (mainly Carson Ellis {Amy: I love Carson’s work too!} and Maxwell Loren Holyoke-Hirsch but there are a million more that I swoon over), bears, the way that Johnathon Safran Foer writes about everything, Mcweeneys publications, being by the sea, being up a hill, being in Edinburgh. Anything sad. The internet.

What keeps you motivated?
Often just getting a nice job to do is enough, when you know that you have a great brief and you can potentially do something wonderful for it really helps in getting going. Equally the knowledge that I’m skilled for nothing but making pictures so if I don’t do this there’s little else for me to do (alas this is dangerously true, just the thought of a REAL job fills me with fear) . Also the fact that there are so many awesome illustrators about and that there’s been such a surge of interest in it in recent years makes me want to keep up momentum and make sure i’m a part of it without getting left behind.

After Me Comes The Flood

What’s your favourite tool?
A mechanical pencil with a 0.3 led in either B or 2B. FLAWLESS. I love me a mechanical pencil. They’re great for hatching and creating really geeky, intense areas of pattern or texture. After that I love anything (acrylic, watercolour, ink, paper) in paynes grey; easily the best grey around.

Are you a full-time artist?
Not yet. I’m about to enter my fourth and final year at Edinburgh College of Art so after that hopefully I will work as a full time illustrator. Hopefully.

What advice would you like to give people who would like to sell their works online?
To be honest I’m not the greatest online salesperson as I’ve only really started selling prints this year but from my experience it appears Etsy is the best way to start. It seems like everyone has an Etsy store now. Which is amazing. Its such a great way to stumble across exciting work. I think soon I may start selling via a paypal button or something (damn etsy fees) but for now its efficient and easy and seems to be serving me well. And Blogs! Blogs are wonderful! Its so lovely when someone buys a print after seeing your work on a blog. So maybe harassing some bloggers is worth a shot?

At Your Wake 2

Where do you see yourself within the next few years?
I don’t know where I’ll be but I sincerely hope I’ll still be drawing for a long while yet. There’s so much that I want to be doing and so much that illustrators seem to be able to do now that I think it’s going to be pretty non-stop. I want to organise more events (this year I did a kind of craft fair thing filled with Scottish artists and art students and gallery folk and makers and it was a great way of getting people together) and I have ideas in my head about making things a bit more social for illustrators. In my experience some of the nicest people in the world are shut away in studios making work all alone and I dream of the day when it easier for people have access to shared studios and print facilities and so on. But those are pipe dreams. So I’ll hush up before I get carried away. So for now I guess I’ll be drawing. Somewhere. Maybe not in the UK and hopefully with my favourite person not too far away.

What message do you want to send out to people about your work?
I don’t know if I have a message. Maybe that’s the point of what I do. I want it to be kind of ambiguous. Each image is sort of a capture of a single (fictional) moment and whatever came before or comes after is a mystery so you have to wonder how that situation came to be. Gosh, no that sounds silly. It’s about bears. Mainly it’s about bears.

Tell us something random!
I am 6ft tall.

{Thank you Lizzy!}

5 Replies to “Interview: Lizzy Stewart”

  1. Mithi says:

    swoooooooooon …..

  2. kim says:

    i love looking at other artists’ sketchbooks too! thanks for sharing yours, lizzy. you do such fine fine work!

  3. mazsu says:

    Dear Amy!

    I have something for you on my blog – please check it!



  4. Amy says:

    Hi Mazsu, thank you for the surprise! 😉

  5. Dan says:

    Very nice interview. Enjoyed reading about your work and thoughts on shared studio spaces / print facilities. Many of us are shut-ins for a reason, though…
    Look forward to checking your website and Evening Tweed in the future!

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