Interview: London Transport Museum's cycling illustration exhibition winner

Cycling in London is a new exhibition at the London Transport Museum that showcases some incredible illustration work on a pedal-powered theme. The included works were picked based on a competition run with the Assocation of Illustrators (AoI), with the top prize going to Good for you, green for London by Rachel Lillie -- who's only recently graduated from Kingston University, studying Illustration and Animation.

We sat down with Rachel to find out more.

Rachel Lillie's winning entry.

DA: Why did you decide to enter the competition?

RL: "I had just finished my final major project at university and wanted the challenge of answering a new exciting brief. The competition appealed to me because it was about cycling -- something which I love myself and I had just finished reading the biography of British cyclist Tom Simpson. The prize at the end wasn't in mind at all, I just wanted to produce a new piece of work I could be proud of."

DA: How would you describe the concept of the piece?

RL: "In thinking of the idea of the piece I very much wanted to respond to the brief as well as I could, to promote the environmental, health, or recreational benefits of cycling in London. I wanted to communicate the environmental impact of cycling in making our cities greener.

 "That's where the leaf idea came from, the idea of making the veins of the leaf into the streets of London and showing cycling as a great way to travel around the city, which in turn benefits our health."

DA: How did you develop your concept into the final piece?

RL: "The development is always the tricky part, but always worth while. Drawing out every possible idea, even the bad ones until you get to something good which communicates best what you want to say. When I decided on the final concept, new ideas would come out from experimenting with composition and media. The final illustration was a culmination of all my experiments."

DA: What did you use to create it?

RL: "My design is hand-drawn and painted, using a combination of different paints and ink. I like to mix and match. I scanned elements in and used Photoshop to play with the composition of the cyclists."

Rachel Lillie in her studio.

DA: How did it feel to win?

RL: "Winning was a complete shock! Looking round the exhibition, the standard of all the entries was so high I thought I didn't stand a chance. But it's so nice to know that the judges could see the thought process behind my illustration.

"Exhibiting in the London Transport Museum is a great honour, and a brilliant opportunity to get my work into the public eye. Knowing that my design will be used as an actual poster on the underground is mind-blowing. That alone is the best prize and such a great platform to help start my career."

DA: With two of your fellow graduates picking up the main D&AD Student Award prize last week, there's curretly a real buzz about your school. Why is it producing such great new talent?

RL: "The dedicated tutors and professionals [at Kingston] have always striven to try to achieve excellence. Illustration and Animation is such an amazing course, I think it's a combination of excellent tutors, a great studio work ethic and the students who are all very passionate about illustration and good design. We are all motivated to stand out and do well."

Over 50 works of art are on show, which were drawn from a pool of over 1,000 entries submitted by professional illustrations and students. The brief was to 'interpret the environmental, health and recreational benefits of cycling in London.'

Lillie picked up a prize of £2,000, and will see her artwork used as a poster on Transport for London's services such as the Tube and DLR. Second prize (and £1,000) went to Cycling City by Harry Sankey (below). The third prize (and £750) was awarded to Mia Nilsson.

Cycling City by Harry Sankey.

By Mia Nillson.

Next up: our pick of the work on show.

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