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Graduates 2009: Lizzy Stewart

Posted by Alex Bec,

Lizzy’s work stood out to us for it’s wonderful composition and charm. Originally having studied Fine Art and transferred to illustration at Edinburgh College of Art, we think she made a good choice. Her works stems from her ‘need to tell stories’ and a strong narrative is there for all to see.

A varied range of inspirations including folk culture (predominantly eastern European), architecture that looks like it shouldn’t exist, Elaborate Russian Orthodox churches, wooden towers and peculiar follies her images are purposefully ambiguous but easily interpreted into whatever narrative you want to give them.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

A love affair with ‘Dinosaurs’ magazine (the one where you built a glow in the dark t-rex skeleton) left me wanting to be an archaeologist for quite a while, followed by a brief stint dreaming of optometry (yes) and then at about ten I settled on being an artist. I didn’t really know what that entailed for a long while but I remember thinking of garretts and easels and being incredibly romantic and tempestuous. I’m so glad that being an illustrator comes with (slightly) fewer cliches.

In reflection, how bad was your work in the first year?

In my first year at Edinburgh I chose to study painting not illustration. Some of it was OK I guess. I wanted to be Robert Rauschenburg I think but never really pulled that off. There are four years of study at ECA so my first year of illustration was my second year at college. My work was a bit all over the place. I knew the work I wanted to make but it never quite happened. I toyed with digital collage, a more cartoon style and folky folk art but failed at all three I think. Thankfully I eventually found the things that I enjoyed drawing and now I’m at last feeling more content with my stuff. Not totally happy but that’s good I think. I don’t want to get complacent!

If you could show a piece of your folio to one person, what piece would you choose, and who would you show it to?

I guess it would be cool to show Chad VanGaalen the zine I made based on his song ‘Molten Light’. He’s also an artist/animator though so it might be a bit intimidating. I would also love to take my book based on ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ to Chronicle Books and have them in raptures and scrambling to publish it. Please.

If you had your own business, who would you employ and why?

I’d like to have someone in my studio (ok first I would like to have a studio) to read stories to me. Like a live-in audiobook. It’s only in recent months that I’ve rediscovered how wonderful it is to hear stories while you work. I am so terrible for overplaying albums while I draw and getting tired of them, so listening but listening to books or shows like This American Life or Radiolab means I get sucked in and I keep my concentration better. So yeah, someone to read to me would be awesome. Someone with an interesting reading voice. Maybe someone different every day? To mix it up. Week one would be the children’s laureate Michael Rosen, Yoni Wolf from Why?, American writer Ryan Boudinot, Woody Allen and if possible the late Richard Burton. Eclectic.

If you’ve got any left, what will you spend the last of your student loan on?

Ha! My student loan is long gone on such glorious items as clear perspex books ends, portfolio sleeves and seemingly limitless printing costs. If I had any left it would be going towards a break I think. I’ve been craving a trip back to Stockholm ever since I visited for the first time last summer.

Where will we find you in 12 months?

I don’t know. I’m staying in Edinburgh for the next year with the plan that after that maybe I’ll go somewhere new. I guess it all depends how my first year freelancing goes. Hopefully I’ll be sat atop a vast independent publishing empire, I’m co releasing (as Sing Statistics) two books over the summer, one of which is the follow up to ‘I Am The Friction’ which was put out last summer. It’s bigger and better this time. So much better. I have a couple of dangerously exciting potential collaborations coming up too so maybe in 12 months you’ll see the fruits of those too.

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Posted by Alex Bec

Alex is one of the directors of It’s Nice That who now oversees our sister creative agency INT Works. For several years he oversaw the Monday Morning Music Video feature until it came to an end in 2014.