Rekindle your love of travelling with Delilah Cui’s immersive illustrations

The London-based illustrator effortlessly preserves fleeting moments in time. Here, she talks us through her observational practice.

8 April 2020

Most of us like to travel and a great way to pass the time is to think back to those sun-soaked ventures or city escapes. You could see it as a form of escapism, or a means of modern-day exploration. One thing that tends to occur all-too-soon however, is the rapid passing of time. In a blink, the holiday is already over and you’re just not ready to go back. At times like these, it’s the teeniest of details that keep the memory alive, and if you’re lucky enough to be a gifted illustrator, able to record such moments through dynamic drawing, these moments never have to end.

Delilah Cui is all about observation. The moments that tend to flash before our eyes on a crowded train or laughing with friends are instilled on the page through the illustrator’s trusty hand. “I make drawings during journeys when I travel,” she tells It’s Nice That. Wherever she goes – London, Iceland, Nice or The Netherlands – she never fails to carry around a schoolbag filled with her drawing equipment.

In this portable toolkit, you’ll find colour pencils, watercolours, sketchbooks filled with vibrant artworks and of course, a mobile phone for snapping up photos. With her eagle eye, she searches for moments to document, and in turn, to artistically prolong in her mind’s eye. She looks for scenes filled with light and intensity, observing nuanced interactions between passers-by, before translating the moment onto paper.


Delilah Cui

“I hope that my work can express these scenes,” adds the now-London based creative, “and catch the feeling at the time. It might be relaxed and happy, it might be quiet and warm.” When she’s not drawing scenes from her travels, Delilah turns her attention to bookmaking, narrating comics with black and white watercolours, and experimenting with other forms of drawing. Currently studying for a master’s in the subject at the University for the Creative Arts, Delilah is expanding her practice, not only through technique but also through the sensory experiences that drawing can evoke.

“Even though a drawing cannot make a sound,” she continues, “you can hear the conversation from a sketch, even if the paper itself has no temperature, you can still feel a warmth.” With this in mind, Delilah has crafted her own unique way of emanating emotion. Combining the softness of bright watercolours with the sharpness of colouring pencils, she adds definition to her works with decisive strokes, underlining certain shadows and expressions with coloured lines.

“If there is one way to describe my style,” she tells us, “I would describe it as freedom. Just like a travel scenario which can bring the most intuitively free and easy feeling to people.” She ends poetically: “If painting is compared to a heart, then the landscape should be the blood, it gives the heart a constant supply of energy.” At this moment in time, she hopes to spread the power of colour to as many people as possible, and, above all, allow people to fall in love with travelling all over again just by looking at her wonderful works.

GalleryDelilah Cui

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Delilah Cui

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor.

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