Artist Lucy Macleod In Conversation
Inspired by “the human form, strong mark-making and texture”, Lucy’s work lends itself to fashion illustration
This year’s featured artist is illustrator and creative director, Lucy MacLeod. Based in the small town of Langholm, but originally from Edinburgh, Lucy started out as a fine art painter before later developing a commercial art practice. She has produced work for many high profile clients – British Airways, Royal Mail and Disney/Marvel, to name just a few!
Inspired by “the human form, strong mark-making and texture”, Lucy’s work lends itself to fashion illustration, which has been her main focus in recent years. She has also developed a successful career alongside her art practice, in both teaching and creative direction.
“During this progression, I slowly realised that the work COULD be considered ‘illustration’!”
Having gained a thorough grounding in image-making from her time at Edinburgh College of Art, Lucy felt that creatively, she wanted to blur the boundaries between fine art and design.
“As a painter I felt I couldn’t successfully achieve the type of image I had in my mind”, she explains. Following some experiments with Photoshop on an old computer inherited from a friend, Lucy found her style evolving. Drawn to work with “hand-drawn, painted or ‘analogue’ elements and graphic or ‘designed’ aspects”, her emerging work seemed to sit where fine art and design collide. Eventually she discovered that this new visual language leant itself to illustration; “during this progression, I slowly realised that the work COULD be considered ‘illustration’!”
“Social media revolutionised the industry (in good and bad ways!) and it took time to find my place in this new digitally-led world”
After taking some time out to have her second child in 2008, Lucy began to dip a toe into the water creatively again in 2011. However, in that relatively short time, the fast-paced illustration industry had changed quite dramatically.
“Social media revolutionised the industry (in good and bad ways!) and it took time to find my place in this new digitally-led world. I took advantage of this though, reinventing my work to reflect my core strengths much more”
For Lucy, harnessing social media, particularly the highly visual platform of Instagram, has proved to be a powerful tool for creating an audience and establishing a brand.
Crafting a strong online presence has helped Lucy navigate the challenges of living and working in a rural location. Where previously this may have been isolating, Lucy, like many artists, can now tap into a world-wide creative community and present her work to a global audience.
Lucy has found that by “utilising Instagram as a visual diary”, there is a real appetite for behind-the-scenes images and loose sketches, “people like to see things happening”. By giving Instagrammers an insight into her creative process, Lucy has gained thousands of followers from effectively being herself. Something that brings a wonderful authenticity to her practice.
“I’m told that the females often appear to be strong and resilient looking, which I love!”
Lucy’s work often features bold and expressive representations of women, “I try to bring the figures I represent to life by giving them a real sense of presence. I’m told that the females often appear to be strong and resilient looking, which I love!” Smart, assured and extremely talented, it seems there is more than a little bit of Lucy in the figures she depicts.
“It is a tad scary as there is definitely an extra sense of pressure”
As part of the “Artist in Residence” programme, Lucy will be doing live drawing events at the Art Fair. That sounds rather nerve-wracking, but she is excited; “I’ve worked on a few live drawing events and they’re such fun!” albeit acknowledging; “it is a tad scary as there is definitely an extra sense of pressure”
Her teaching demos stand her in good stead though, and she adds; “I always make sure I’ve ‘warmed up’ beforehand, by sketching to loosen my mind, my eyes and my hands.”
The live drawing is a great way to get the audience involved and brings an interactive element to the Art Fair. In Lucy’s experience, people really enjoy taking part and engaging with art in this way. “I find chatting to people as I draw actually helps me be ‘present’ – I also get to meet lots of lovely people.”
Come along and meet Lucy as “Artist in Residence” at the Borders Art Fair from 13 -15 March. Find her on Instagram @lucymacleodillustration
All images courtesy of Lucy MacLeod