Priya Mistry's wonderful city portraits could finally decide the world's greatest capital

The UK artist tells a tale of two cities through a series of beautiful illustrations.

Illustrator Priya Mistry first caught attention this year with a lovely series of pics paying tribute to the London Underground.

Her latest project though takes inspiration from a recent trip to New York, and could perhaps decide which capital is the better city. But how did Priya capture the essence of both cities, and what differences did she find between the two that sparked her artistic inspiration? We spoke with Priya over email to find out more.

GL: Was this your first time in New York? If so, what impressions did it make and how did you reflect these in your pieces?

PM: "My trip to New York was actually my first visit to the USA. I went with my husband and a couple of our friends. I remember being struck by the enormity of everything - the scale of the city, its towering skyscrapers, roads, cars and even the food portions..!

"It’s an incredible city bustling with life and I couldn’t help notice all the individual stories coinciding at once - a couple saying an emotional farewell in Central Park; friends enjoying conversations over rooftop bars with breathtaking 360° views of the Manhattan skyline; and visitors standing in awe at Times Square (myself included) to name a few. I used these moments as inspiration for the series."

GL: Which of the five pieces are your favourites? 

PM: "My favourites are probably Caught out and Sometime, Someplace (below) - I spent a while planning each of the five illustrations, but I feel that I was successfully able to convey the mood I was going for with these two illustrations. Their overall compositions also feel quite dynamic and the shapes within them work well together."

GL: How similar or different was this to making your London set, based around the city's tube system?

PM: "I used the same process with both series - planning each with numerous thumbnails, sketches and colour palettes before working up the final illustrations. But I did give myself a lot more time with the New York City series and I feel they look a lot more ‘polished’ as a result.

"In comparison, the London Underground series were created as part of #Inktober last year and I therefore wasn’t able to spend anywhere near as much time developing each illustration. I was also using Posca markers for the first time back then, so they’re a lot more 'rough and ready', so to speak."

GL: How do both sets of pieces reflect the character of both cities? 

PM: "I tried to reflect each area primarily through colour and shape. People instantly recognise the London Underground series because the primary colours lend themselves to the infamous branding of the world’s oldest transport system. 

"By contrast, I would have preferred to use a muted palette for New York City with subdued shades of oranges, reds and creams but I was unfortunately restricted to what I had available. I do, however, feel that both palettes work well in reflecting the vibrancy of each place.  

"I also tried to emphasise the geometric forms and characteristics of each location; the underground with its flawless curved tunnels, symmetrical staircases and beautifully patterned corridors; and New York with its bold structural skyscrapers and perfect orthogonal grid system."

But which is the better city according to Priya?

"That really is a tricky question," she replies. "I have a soft spot for London as I called it home for almost five years. But I think I’m leaning towards New York."

There you have it, world - case closed.

Read next: Cities come to life in these sparkling drawings for travel app Kompas

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