We met Lizzie Mary Cullen at the New Designers show last week, tucked away in a gallery hidden from the main floor -- like much of the illustration work on display. Her large-form handdrawn artworks instantly caught the eye, and it's easy to see why she had picked up a One Year On award for extraordinary work completed in her first year since graduating.
Cullen won the award at the previous year's New Designers, where restaurant chain Zizzi snapped her up to help with its rebranding. Since then, she's been travelling around the UK, covering the walls of Zizzi's restaurants with her illustrations -- culminating with its flagship outlet. So of course we wanted to know more.
DA: Was there a brief, or did the client specifically reference any of your previous pieces?
LMC: "What Zizzi are doing, in my opinion very succesfully, is connecting each area to their local Zizzis. They want to get away from this rigorous branding, and add a fresh, cutting-edge style to each location that is completely unique each to each town or city. [Zizzi's] Pia [Fairhurst] had seen my psychogeographies at the show.
"My work is urban mapping, and heavily rooted in situationism. It's like Baudelaire said, to really know your city you have to be a 'botonist of the sidewalk'. I love that!
"It's the idea of not only recording a route, but recording the very essence of a place - the sights, the textures, and weather. In my work it all comes together in these massive textual drawings. That's what Pia saw, and wanted me to try out with Zizzi."
DA: Tell us a bit about the first piece you did.
LMC: "My first one was Marlow [in-progress shot above]. I'd never gone there before, so I to went to do some sketches for the rough I was sending over before the wall went up. It was a really lovely day, and the river and suspension bridge looked stunning.
"I was a little nervous starting on the wall. I never use pencil, I just go straight in with my pens, so that first line was pretty nerve-racking. It took about three days to complete, which apparently is fairly quick. My agent (Phosphor Art) came in on day three and was quite surprised i'd finished so quickly.
"The Marlow wall has the suspension bridge coming out at you, and there are references to the river and boating, and also shows the beautiful architecture."
DA: How many restaurants now have your art? Are they all the same or did you include variations? If so, how did you decide what you use in which place?
LMC: "I've completed about seven so far, with more coming during the year. The wonderful thing about this commission is they're all different. Each town or city has its own unique character, and so the work reflects this.