Amelia’s Magazine | The Ecologist Guides to Food and Fashion: an interview with illustrator Lucy Kirk

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to fashion cover

The Ecologist has just published two superb new books with Leaping Hare Press that detail the ways in which we can improve the food and fashion systems, both of which are so fraught with unethical and environmentally detrimental practices. The two petit guides are designed in an easy to read format and chapters are accompanied with some wonderful illustrations by Lucy Kirk, a contributor to Amelia’s Magazine and one of my star picks at her University of Brighton graduate show in 2012. Here she explains the process of working with The Ecologist and the creation of engaging illustrations from often difficult subject matter.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to fashion - cottonkiller

How did you get hired to create illustrations for the new Ecologist Guides?
I graduated from the University of Brighton in 2012 and during the final degree show Ivy Press visited the exhibition and later invited me and a few others to visit their Lewes office to show them more of our work. After a rather nerve racking (on my part) portfolio meeting, they kept my details on record. A few months later I received an email from James Lawrence at Leaping Hare Press asking if I’d be up for doing some initial drawings, which later lead to the project.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to fashion - harris tweed

What was the process of creation and collaboration with the Ecologist like?
The art director James Lawrence was great to work with, he sent me the authors’ written text and brief ideas he’d had as starting points for me to work with. This being my first major commission it was hard not to find it a little daunting, so having some key notes was really helpful. It allowed me to interpret the text creatively but not get to lost.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to food - WORKERS

How many images did you have to create altogether and how long did it take to get together all the images for both guides?
I think roughly about eighty. I started working on the project during the summer of 2012 but it continued on and off until november 2013. It was more of a collaboration to be finished as and when the text was complete. I think I preferred this process rather than a block of solid work, as it allowed me to approach each section of drawings with a fresh mind.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to food cover

What materials and techniques do you use when you work on line drawings like this?
As often as possible I like to work with loose cartridge paper rather than a sketchbook, a big pot of black ink (which I normally spill) and a new paintbrush. I like a tiny brush; the ones used for model railways are my personal favourite.

Where did you find inspiration for the images?
Sometimes from reference photography, if there was a particular message to portray or imagery I had no previous knowledge of. Other illustrations were inspired by things around me. My parents live on a farm in Nottinghamshire, which proved helpful when it came to working on some of the food drawings.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to food-packhouse

What was the hardest aspect of creating images to accompany often difficult topics?
I think it was hard not wanting to offend anyone, but James was good at suggesting alternatives and ways to avoid this. I found that trying to marry imagery to sometimes upsetting text can be tricky, but I think that overall everyone who worked on the books has done a great job.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to fashion - roadkill

What was the worst thing that you learnt about the food industry?
There were lots of interesting things I learnt about the food industry that I either knew little or nothing about. It opened my eyes to the conditions of workers that I think is sometimes easy to forget. The exploitation of some women working as tea pluckers in East Africa was particularly upsetting.

What was the most interesting thing you learnt about the fashion industry?
There’s a section on slow fashion which I think is great: it is the process of making clothing that lasts a long time and is often sourced and produced locally or via fair-trade. There’s more of a stress on quality of garments rather than quantity and it’s becoming more and more popular. If you are interested in fashion I think it’s definitely something you should be aware of.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to fashion - sew machine

Has doing this project altered the way that you relate to either fashion or food, and if yes in what sort of way?
Yes, I think it’s easy to turn our heads and forget issues that are happening around us and trick ourselves into believing we are not personally responsible. I’m not saying I’ve become vegan overnight but it has definitely made me become more aware. I think both authors approach both subjects in a way that’s an interesting and informative read and I’d recommend them to a friend. I’ve already leant my copies to my grandma.

Lucy Kirk - Ecologist guide to food - cows

What else are you working on in 2014?
As well as doing illustrations, I also co-direct a stationery business called Pen On Paper with my friend and fellow artist Millie Popovic, who is also a Brighton graduate. So day to day our time is taken up designing new products and printing orders. We have some events and projects later in the year which I can’t yet reveal yet but I am very excited about. But when I’m not screen printing cards, I’m working on a new ceramic series which hopefully will be ready soon. It’s been a while since I’ve been able to work with clay, so it feels good to go back. I’m also a new member of the illustration collective Puck and there’s lots of exciting things happening with them this year, which I’m looking forward too, including some exhibitions and maybe some publications.

The Ecologist Guide to Food and the Ecologist Guide to Fashion are out now, published by Leaping Hare Press and available from all good bookstores.

Categories ,Ecologist Guide to Fashion, ,Ecologist Guide to Food, ,Ecologist Guides, ,fairtrade, ,interview, ,Ivy Press, ,James Lawrence, ,Leaping Hare Press, ,Lucy Kirk, ,Millie Popovic, ,Pen On Paper, ,Puck Collective, ,the ecologist, ,University of Brighton

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Amelia’s Magazine | Pick Me Up London 2014: graphic arts exhibition review

Pick Me Up London graphic arts exhibition 2014 review

This year I went along to the Pick Me Up exhibition at Somerset House on a quiet weekday, giving me plenty of space to walk around the exhibits and chat to people along the way. In the Pick Me Up Selects area I was delighted to find many familiar names, including some recent graduates. Here’s a few of my favourites: there were many more so do check out this page.

Pick Me Up London graphic arts exhibition 2014 review Edward Cheverton

This cheeky airplane is by Edward Cheverton, a recent graduate of the University of Brighton. He specialises in deceptively naive collages and mini sculptures.

Pick Me Up London graphic arts exhibition 2014 review Billy

Billy (otherwise known as Alex Godwin) divides her time between the UK and Germany, creating distinctive iconographic artwork with a playful edge.

Pick Me Up Wibble Wobble by Jack Hudson

Jack Hudson graduated from UWE a few years ago. I love the way he plays with scale in images such as Wibble Wobble, above.

Pick Me UP Colourful abstraction by Linda Linko

Finnish designer Linda Linko mixes fine art with illustration and graphic design in large scale abstract artworks.

Pick Me Up Becky Liddiard horse plate

Pick Me UP Mushroom Botanic by Becky Liddiard

Moving upstairs, there were lots of exciting artworks to be discovered on the stands hosted by collectives and galleries. Works by Becky Liddiard caught my eye on two walls; firstly on this repurposed plate featuring a pair of horses, and then with her Mushroom Botanic risograph.

Pick me Up Margeux Carpentier elephantPick me Up Margeux Carpentier elephant

Pick Me Up Margaux Carpentier monkey

Pick Me Up pink leopard by Margaux Carpentier

Pick Me Up Margaux Carpentier squaw

I first discovered Margaux Carpentier at Pick Me Up in 2011 and more recently I’ve been following her on instagram, where she posts pictures of her highly patterned animals. At the Animaux Circus sign painting stand I admired her work in progress, a war squaw for the Puck Collective shields project.

Pick me up Doing the Dictator Dance, with Alec Doherty

Other works that I loved included Doing the Dictator Dance, by Alec Doherty, who is currently showing in 80s Youth, an exhibition curated by Printer of Dreams.

Pick Me Up Malarky at Beach london

Moving onto the next floor I discovered this gigantic artwork by Malarky at Beach London.

Pick Me Up - Paul Farrell

At the Unlimited stand a super sized gem print by Paul Farrell grabbed my attention.

Pick me up Hvass & Hannibal

Over at Outline Artists I was introduced to new works by Hvass & Hannibal – including this awesome jungle print.

Pick Me Up Andreas Neophytou

Andreas Neophytou produced this intriguing abstract print on lovely paper in conjunction with GF Smith.

Pick Me Up - Jessica Das roller girl


Isn’t this Roller Disco Girl awesome? Owner Camilla was kind enough to offer me a print of my choice, and I chose these Toucans, also by Jessica Das: she must be one of my favourite finds from this year’s Pick Me Up.

pick me up lesley barnes tiger

Over at the Handsome Frank stand I admired this lady riding a tiger, by the wonderful Lesley Barnes.

pick me up helen musselwhite

Skull, rainbows, clouds, stormy seas… papercuts by Helen Musselwhite are so damn clever.

Pick me up paul thurlby

I love to read Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet book with Snarfle. Paul Thurlby has an idiosyncratic ‘retro modern’ style that is brilliantly realised in this ace musical pussycat print.

Malika Favre bag 2014-pick me up

On my way out I was introduced to the delights of bag making with Sally Walton of Carry-a-Bag – a business she set up in response to the vast amount of plastic bags that are only ever used once. Thanks to the involvement of Outline Artists visitors were invited to choose a fabric design from the newly relaunched Heal’s Fabrics collection. Like many others I chose the fabulous Peacock design by Malika Favre. Since it was the end of my visit and I was unable to wait for the bag to be made up they kindly offered to send it to me and it arrived promptly in the post a few days after. What a delightful surprise.

Categories ,2014, ,80s Youth, ,Alec Doherty, ,Alex Godwin, ,Andreas Neophytou, ,Animaux Circus, ,Beach London, ,Becky Liddiard, ,Billy, ,Carry-a-Bag, ,Doing the Dictator Dance, ,Edward Cheverton, ,GF Smith, ,Graphic Art, ,Handsome Frank, ,Heals, ,Helen Musselwhite, ,Hvass & Hannibal, ,illustration, ,Jack Hudson, ,Jessica Das, ,Lesley Barnes, ,Linda Linko, ,Malarky, ,Malika Favre, ,Margaux Carpentier, ,Mushroom Botanic, ,Outline Artists, ,Paul Farrell, ,Paul Thurlby’s Alphabet, ,Peacock, ,Pick Me Up, ,Pick Me Up Selects, ,Printer of Dreams, ,Puck Collective, ,review, ,Roller Disco Girl, ,Sally Walton, ,Somerset House, ,Toucans, ,Unlimited, ,Wibble Wobble

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