The medium of illustration has always been a regular feature in London-based Laylah Amirchih’s life. From a young age, Laylah and her older brother would make comics together, and gradually, “the idea of images having meaning and conveying a message began to interest me”, culminating in her realisation that “illustration was what I wanted to do”, while studying a foundation at the University of Arts London’s CCW campuses.
Ever since, and particularly while studying, illustration has grown into a larger part of Laylah’s day-to-day life. Without the regular briefs set by tutors at university, the illustrator now sets her own, keeping in touch with the “wide range of ideas concepts” that the medium gives her on a regular basis. “I also relish a challenge in how to convey an idea in an image or three! But also, the limitations of a brief I feel force me to think critically and interpret concepts in an individualistic way.”
However, Laylah is a lot more productive than most when it comes to setting briefs. For instance, each week she aims to create a zine, uploading the results to her account @azineaweek. Full of reportage drawings as “generating ideas and sketching is a very enjoyable process for me,” Laylah uses this self-set brief “to gain inspiration from real life.” Working mostly on the go also dictates the tools Laylah uses – “mainly traditional tools such as pencil, ink, gouache paint, colour pencil and print (relief and screen), often then working on pieces digitally to enhance the final colouring.”
The result is an eclectic portfolio that’s vibrant, jumping between sketches of areas around London to detailed linocuts. Laylah also completes all of this on top of her part-time job, dividing her day between working until 1pm, dedicating the rest to illustration. “Sometimes it can be very tiring but I feel as though the work always pays off,” she explains.
Noting particularly inspirational women in her life as “Mary Seacole for her bravery and Louise Bourgeois for her amazing art,” the illustrator is also thankful to “my mother, who has always supported me in my artistic endeavours and my female friends who uplift me every day,” she tells us. Considering we spoke to Laylah’s for International Women’s Day this year, we asked her to weigh in on the significance of the day: “It’s such an important day for all women, we still have issues with gender inequality,” she points out. “Having a day to highlight women of all backgrounds is so important. Being half Moroccan, I feel as though representation in illustration is a major issue. Many opportunities pass us by because we are women, but also people of colour. We need more women, but more importantly women of colour, in illustration so we can see the real talent which is there,” she concludes.
We couldn’t agree more with Laylah and feel her attitude towards International Women’s Day as a whole is summed up in this quote: “When we celebrate and uplift women, society will progress and will hopefully change for the better.”
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