illustrator interview – lydia shirreff

:: by Lizzie


Do you use old school or new school tools when creating your work?

I am old school. I work with my hands. Although if someone were to buy me a laser cutter I wouldn’t complain.


Show and tell your piece of work. Describe your submission for Old School.

My submission for Old School was a paper pencil case filled with colourful, patterned school bits. The kind of stationary you would save for best and probably not take to school because it would definitely get stolen by the naughty kid. I made it slightly larger than life-size to make you feel like a child again when you see it.




What is your creative process?

I will usually start by drawing out a very minimal plan, then spend a long time constructing with a lot of trial and error. I change things quite a lot as I go along so it’s a very fluid, experimental process. It can sometimes be incredibly monotonous and tedious but the results are always worth it.


Does your work represent your personality?

I think it does to a certain extent, although I am naturally quite untidy. And impatient. And I don’t wear bright colours very often…



Send in a picture of your desk now and describe your studio space.

My studio space is also my bedroom in a vacant office in East London. I was lucky enough to bag the conference room and table which is now my desk. It’s 9 feet long which is awesome in theory but actually just means I cover it in more mess. I like being surrounded by stuff, not necessarily my own work, but this is kind of unavoidable. Empty space makes me uncomfortable.




What’s your earliest memory of drawing/creating?

I think for me it would be hard to find an early memory that wasn’t drawing or creating. One of my favourites was to make tiny little books. My mum and I found a whole box of them in the attic recently. They would invariably be about a blonde princess and a unicorn.



Did you have an imaginary friend?

I am an only child so I had a whole army of imaginary friends for different situations. We would have adventures in the field behind my parents’ house.



Did you know at school what you wanted to be?

Not really. I guess I knew I’d like to be creative at something. For a while I wanted to write stories I think.


What advice would you give now to your ‘old school self’?

Don’t worry. One day your individuality will be interpreted as cool. Don’t hide it.


Smug’s colour is yellow. What colour best represents you?

I’m a big fan of cobalt blue.


If you had to choose one Smug product what would it be?

I can’t help touching the blankets every time I pop in.



lydia_shirreff_decorations_4b_smuggler_cropped copy


Lydia has also made by hand these stunning Geometric Christmas Decorations for SMUG. Each one is unique and very beautiful. They are for sale upstairs at SMUG in The SMUG Christmas SHOP.