Having grown up in a little town called Hitchin in Hertfordshire, Lily Lambie-Kiernan embraced the city of Norwich a few years back to study the subject she’d always loved: Illustration. She’d grown up poring over rough sketches and thumbnails of children’s books created by her mum, who, it turns out, studied the same subject at the same university. It wasn’t until the year after she graduated, however, that Lily knew illustration was the “perfect career” for her.
It was then that she founded a magazine, Ephemeral Publication, featuring her favourite creatives while exploring a variety of ephemeral topics. In the same year, she started working on commercial projects too. Still based in Norwich, where she has her studio in the city centre, Lily talks us through her signature visual language. “Funnily enough,” she explains, “I have only recently noticed I have one in the past month or so. From the advice of the lovely Lou Bones, I realised I have a portfolio of work that offers something unique.”
Brimming with humour and whimsy, while sustaining a light touch all at the same time, Lily knows her work is going in the right direction when it make her smile. She tries to create a feeling of “this is funny, my friends would like this” through the larger-than-life expressions and the explosion of hues. It’s a distinct aesthetic seen across all of Lily’s work from the commercial to the personal. While she is currently working on a new and third issue of Ephemeral out later this year, the illustrator’s vivid works have also graced the likes of Vice, Norwich Refugee Week 2020 and In To The Fold Magazine.
In a recent commission from Vice, Lily was tasked with creating a series of illustrations focussing on the student mental health crisis. Working with editor Tshepo Mokoena, she delved into a number of pressing topics faced by the student community: the stresses of fresher’s week, as well as the 1,000-per-cent increase in university dropouts and how institutions should confront this issue. “The process was fairly swift and straightforward,” Lily says.
Collaborating closely with Tshepo, together they came up with the art direction. Lily then went on to provide roughs for the editor, which were then refined down into carefully crafted illustrations that were posted the next day. A very quick turnaround.
Lily is currently working on a longer-running personal project delving into the “characters and vibes I find funny in the media and general life,” she says. It started off as a single little drawing made of a shiny, commercialised, unhinged TV chef. Drawing inspiration from the likes of Fanny Craddock, Julia Child, Delia Smith and the Two Fat Ladies (that kind of vibe), Lily has since expanded the illustration into an ongoing series. All in all, she’s thinking along the lines of “competitive eaters and 1970s housewives”, but, she adds, “I have no name for it yet.”
About the Author
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.